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Challenging the myths and misconceptions of radiation

Join this seminar to hear experts talk about exposure to radiation and the impacts on health.

  • Wednesday 22nd January 2020 12:00 (2 hours)
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Event details

Professor Paul Elliott, Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine at Imperial College London, will present his work on leading a study on the possible long-term health effects of mobile phone use such as cancer.

It is estimated that more than five billion people have mobile devices, and over half of these are smartphones. Many reviews have concluded that there is no convincing evidence to date that mobile phones are harmful to health in the short term. However, the widespread use of mobile phones is a relatively recent phenomenon and it is possible that adverse health effects could emerge after ten years or more of prolonged use.

The Cohort Study of Mobile phone use and health (COSMOS), launched in 2010, is following the health of 290,000 adult mobile phone users in the UK for 20-30 years to address the knowledge gap in the possible long-term health effects of mobile phone use.

Participants complete an on-line questionnaire about their mobile phone use, health and lifestyle. The researchers are then analysing and monitoring this data to see if participants develop any health problems as a result of their mobile phone use such as cancer and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's.

They will also analyse whether any changes in the frequency of symptoms, such as headaches and sleep disorders, are related to mobile phone usage.

Professor Elliott is also collaborating with Professor Mireille Toledano from Imperial’s Faculty of Medicine on the Study of Cognition, Adolescents and Mobile Phones (SCAMP). SCAMP is a study which is following several thousand secondary school pupils across London. The aim of this study is to investigate whether children’s use of mobile phones and/or other technologies that use radio waves such as portable landline phones and wireless internet, might affect their cognitive or behavioural development such as memory, language understanding. SCAMP will be the largest study in the world to date to address this important research question.

Professor Elliott will talk about the progress of each of these studies and how long-term health monitoring of a large group of mobile phone users could help to identify any possible health effects from these technologies.

Professor Gerry Thomas
OBE, Professor of Molecular Pathology at Imperial College London and Chernobyl Tissue bank, will talk about her work on radiation exposure and its effects on health.

Radiation has a wide variety of uses in medicine, such as cancer treatments and diagnostic x-rays. Radiation is also all around us – from the rocks beneath our feet to the sky above us. Every year, we are exposed to a dose of radiation of 2.4 milli Sieverts (which is a measure that adds our exposure from different types of radiation). However, many scientists believe that there is a public misunderstanding of the real health effects of exposure to low doses of radiation, particularly when that exposure is a result of an accident at a nuclear power plant.

Professor Thomas will present her work on misconceptions related to radiological risk as well as the range of factors that can influence both dose and exposure to radiation.

Professor Thomas will also outline that many of the health effects attributed to radiation are not produced exclusively by radiation. For example, not all types of cancer have been shown to be elevated in populations exposed to radiation. Cancer can be caused by a variety of other factors, including chemicals and exposure to sunlight and lifestyle factors such as obesity.

She will also talk the effects of the Chernobyl accident on health and the impact of psychological stress due to fear of radiation exposure.

N.B. Registration for this seminar is via Eventbrite. Please click the green button at the top of this opportunity listing to be taken to the Eventbrite booking page.

Volunteer Criteria

All are welcome.

When and where?

Wednesday 22 January 2020
12:00-14:00 GMT

Anthony de Rothschild Lecture Theatre, St Mary's Campus,
Medical School Building, 2nd Floor
Imperial College London,
Norfolk Place,
W2 1PG

Will I get anything for taking part?

A free lunch will be provided.


  • Anthony de Rothschild Lecture Theatre, 2nd Floor
  • Medical School Building, Norfolk Place
  • London
  • W2 1PG

On arrival, please inform staff at reception that you are there to attend the AHSC Seminar in the Anthony de Rothschild Lecture Theatre. They will give you entry and direct you to the lecture room.