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Cell phones cause cancer? Think-tank fellow pooh-poohs that

Partial findings from a study on rats are reopening the debate on whether cell phones cause cancer. But Jeff Stier, senior fellow at the conservative think tank National Center for Public Policy Research, says it's too way early to sound the alarm.

"Nobody's exposed to that much cell phone, for that long, at the human equivalent," Stier told CNBC's "Power Lunch" Friday. "I'm going to keep my male rats away from cell phones, but it's not relevant to us."

The findings by the National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, suggest that male rats exposed to heavy doses of certain phone radiation develop brain and heart tumors. The results are still being analyzed but the associate director of the program, John Bucher, told NBC News the findings were "so significant" that the agency decided to release them.

"We felt it was important to get that word out," Bucher told NBC.

The high-dose, long-term exposure may have indeed caused cancer in male rats, but the science doesn't translate for humans, Stier said.

"You can expose a rat to quinoa and kale salad, and you expose them to enough of it and they will get cancer," Stier said.

The tests were done over a period of about 18 hours, using cycles of 10-minute exposure on and off. The daily exposure time was about nine hours a day, seven days a week.

What is definitive, Stier said, is that American research centers are spending their dollars the wrong way.

"The National Institute of Health, which spent $25 million on this study, needs to rethink its priorities," Stier said. Meanwhile, he said, other agencies such as the CDC struggle for enough funding for Zika, and the FDA cannot definitively say if e-cigarettes are safe because of a lack of research.

"We need to do a better job of prioritizing our research in this country because we are continuing to fund garbage like this," he said.