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LONDON (Reuters) - British scientists who conducted the largest study yet into cell phone masts and childhood cancers say that living close to a mast does not increase the risk of a pregnant woman's baby developing cancer.
In a study looking at almost 7,000 children and patterns of early childhood cancers across Britain, the researchers found that those who developed cancer before the age of five were no more likely to have been born close to a mast than their peers.
"These results are reassuring," said Paul Elliot, director of the center for environment and health at Imperial College London, who worked on the study.
"We found no pattern to suggest that the children of mums living near a base station during pregnancy had a greater risk of developing cancer than those who lived elsewhere."
Use of cell phones has increased dramatically in recent years and questions have been raised about possible health effects, including whether they may be linked to brain tumors or other cancers.
Opinion polls have also shown high levels of public concern about the potential risks of living near mobile phone mast.
But Elliot, whose study was published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday, said his work would add to a body of scientific research which has found no links between cell phones and cancer.
Experts who studied almost 13,000 cell phone users over 10 year hoping to find out whether the mobile devices cause brain tumors published the results of their research last month and found no clear answer.
But many previous studies have failed to find any links.
For this study, researchers had data from Britain's four national mobile phone operators -- Vodafone, O2, France Telecom's's Orange, and Deutsche Telekom's's T-Mobile -- on all of the 81,781 mobile phone masts in use from January 1996 to December 2001.
Commenting on Elliot's study, Eileen Rubery, former head of British government's public health prevention department, said its methods and findings were robust.
"This is a carefully done study by a highly reputable group of environmental scientists," she said. "It is reassuring that no adverse affects have been found and this fits with the anticipated and known biological effects from such sites."
Editing by Peter Graff