Are phone masts the curse of 'cancer street'?


Scientists are checking mobile phone masts in a road dubbed 'cancer street'.

Five people in Carnarvon Road, East London, have developed the disease in the last seven years.

All live within 30 yards of a threestorey building with 16 phone masts on its roof.

Now Redbridge Council has called in experts from the National Radiological Protection Board to measure radiation in the street.

The £3,250 study could have important implications for people living near the tens of thousands of masts which have sprung up across the UK.

Growing numbers of people are blaming their microwave radiation for health problems and some scientists believe there could be a link, although there is as yet no direct evidence.

The Carnarvon Street victims live in the group of houses nearest to the masts, which first appeared in 1995.

Number 10: Mrs Alfreda Cousins, believed to be in her fifties, and said by neighbours to be 'very ill indeed'. She suffered from breast cancer and may now have a second type.

Number 12: Retired art teacher and painter Constance Nash, 80, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and has undergone two operations and gruelling radiotherapy.

She said yesterday: 'There is no history of cancer in my family and I think there could be a link between my illness and the masts.

'The first mast sort of crept up and by Christmas there were 16. We are up in arms about them. We need much more control as to where they are erected.'

Number 14: A 52-year-old woman, who does not want to be named, was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago. She has since had an operation to remove a lump and been given radiotherapy.

She said: 'I am trying to be reasonable and not jump to conclusions but none of the people I know had cancer before the masts went up. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information about radiation and it needs to be investigated.

'I think masts should be placed a certain distance away from residential areas - that's a reasonable approach. People's health is more important than money.'

Number 16: A 49-year-old teacher, who also did not wish to be named, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer four years ago. Her treatment was successful but she has to have regular check-ups.

Number 20: James Parish, 73, diagnosed with bowel cancer five years ago. He had one operation which appears to have caught the disease in time. He is hoping soon to receive the all-clear from his doctors.

Mr Parish and his wife Beryl thought they were just unlucky until they started to hear cancer stories from their neighbours.

'When everybody else started getting it, we began to wonder,' said Mrs Parish. 'The masts are just one big eyesore. If you go in the back garden you can see them, if you go in the front garden you can see them, they are in your face all the time.

'There are young children living in the road now and it does make me fearful. I wouldn't like it to happen to my grandchildren.'

A council spokesman said: 'The concerns began about a year ago when people on the street got together and realised that a number of them had contracted cancer.

'The problem is that we cannot refuse planning applications for masts on health grounds. The current law means that companies can put a mast up and only have to inform us. We then have 56 days to refuse the application.'

The man leading the NRPB investigation, Dr Michael Clark, said initial readings had uncovered 'nothing unusual' in the street.

He said: 'We do measurements of this kind all over the country and the levels we find are typically between 1,000 and 10,000 times below international safety guidelines. That is what we are finding in this street.

'Unfortunately one in three people gets cancer in their lives and you can get clusters for no particular reason. There are a lot of houses here and what may seem like a cluster could be down to nothing more than chance.'

Dr Clark said his team's full findings would be handed to Redbridge Council in three weeks' time.

A recent NRPB report gave phone masts the all- clear after studying more than 100 and concluding that levels of microwave radiation were well within safety limits.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now