Tumor Threat of Mobile

Phones Is Discounted

Ten years of using a mobile phone does not increase the risk of a tumor in the nerve connecting the ear to the brain, British researchers said yesterday.

"The results of our study suggest there is no substantial risk in the first decade after starting use," said Anthony Swerdlow of the Institute of Cancer Research. "Whether there are longer-term risks remains unknown."

The study, in the British Journal of Cancer, focused on the risk of acoustic neuroma, benign tumors that grow in the nerve connecting the ear and inner ear to the brain, close to where handsets are held.

Research has also investigated the possible association of other kinds of brain tumors with mobile phones, but no study that could be independently repeated has shown that mobile phones have permanent harmful effects. Scientists say acoustic neuroma would be a prime candidate.

Ozone Layer's Recovery

Will Take Decades

The ozone layer has stopped thinning but will take decades to start recovering, scientists reported yesterday.

They said an international agreement to limit production of ozone-depleting chemicals has apparently worked, but the damage to ozone has not been halted.

An analysis of satellite records and surface monitoring instruments shows the ozone layer has grown a bit thicker in some parts of the world but is still well below normal levels, said the report in today's issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Elsewhere, the decline in ozone levels has stabilized, said Betsy Weatherhead, a researcher at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The experts credited, at least in part, the 1987 Montreal Protocol that was ratified by more than 180 nations and set legally binding controls for the production and consumption of ozone-depleting gases containing chlorine and bromine.

Firm Issues Warning

On Breast Cancer Drug

Genentech Inc. sent a letter to doctors yesterday alerting them to research linking its Herceptin breast cancer drug to heart failure and cardiac death.

The letter is based on research presented at the May meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Four percent of Herceptin patients had severe heart failure and cardiac death, compared with almost 1 percent of a similar group that did not take the drug, the letter said.

The Herceptin prescribing label, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, already warned before the May report that heart failure is a risk.

Genentech's letter said almost one in five patients in the new study stopped taking Herceptin within a year because of heart complications.

Herceptin is used to treat a form of the disease that has spread and that produces excess amounts of a protein called HER2.

-- From News Services