he world’s largest study into the link between mobile phones and brain tumors is inconclusive according to a Canadian scientist. Over 10,000 people took part in the study led by epidemiologists from more than ten countries but the findings, according to University of Montreal professor Jack Siemiatycki, are “ambiguous, surprising and puzzling.” Siemiatyck, who is also an epidemiologist at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center, collaborated on the Interphone International Study Group along with epidemiologists from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the study looked cellular radio frequencies could be correlated to brain tumors. Participants included cell phone users, non cell phone users, cell phone users who survived brain cancer as well as brain cancer survivors who had never used cell phones. While the findings do indicate an increased risk for heavy phone users, they are compromised by the restricted access to participants according to Siemiatyck. “If we combine all users and compare them with non-users, the Interphone Study found no increase in brain cancer among users. In fact, surprisingly, we found that when we combine users independently of the amount of use, they had lower brain cancer risks than non-users,” he says. “However, the study also found heavy users of cell phones appeared to be at a higher risk of brain tumors than non-users.” The paradoxical results are possibly a result of the methodology, with concerns that participants did not provide an accurate portrait of cell phone usage among cancer cases and among healthy control subjects. “Ethics reviews are now so rigid that scientists from Canada, the United States and Europe are losing the kind of access to medical databases and to study subjects that is needed to conduct studies such as this one,” says Siemiatyck. “Ethics committees increasingly require that researchers work through treating physicians, professionals who are already overworked, to recruit their patients. This may work for clinical research exploring treatment of cancer, in which physicians often have a professional or personal interest, but it does not work for investigations into the causes of cancer. This flawed system can produce biased study results. “If there are risks, they are probably pretty small. Should anyone be concerned about potential dangers of cell phones, they can remedy the issue by using hands-free devices and avoid exposure to radio frequencies around their head.” The study is published this month in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
FIRST CELL PHONE RADIATION LAW
an Francisco has voted to require all retailers to display the amount of radiation cell phones emit. The law is the first of its kind in the U.S. The administration of mayor Gavin Newsom called the vote a major victory for cell phone shoppers’ right to know. According to the New York Times: “Under the law, retailers will be required to post materials — in at least 11-point type — next to phones, listing their specific absorption rate, which is the amount of radio waves absorbed into the cell phone user’s body tissue. These so-called SAR rates can vary from phone to phone, but all phones sold in the United States must have a SAR rate no greater than 1.6 watts per kilogram”. San Francisco has just become the first city in the US to require SAR values to be displayed by retailers of cell phones. The SAR value is a measure of the power of the cell phone and its potential for heating tissues. (A draft of the legislation, which includes warning shoppers about cell phone safety, can be found here.) The SAR rating itself is nothing new. In fact, the SAR values of phones have been available for some time, typically listed in fine print somewhere in your owner’s manual, on the manufacturer’s website, and in the FCC’s databases. Now, however, shoppers in San Francisco will be able to easily compare one phone’s SAR value to another, without extensive digging. And contrary to what the media would like you to believe, if you’re one of these “concerned shoppers,” you’re not alone. When the Environmental Working Group launched its SAR value database last Fall, almost 500,000 people accessed the online database within the first few days, indicating that there’s plenty of consumer interest in cell phone safety. Once the new law takes effect, cell phone retailers must clearly display each phone’s SAR value next to the phone. Values vary from one model to the next, starting around 0.2 watts, but the maximum allowable SAR rate is 1.6 watts per kilogram for phones sold in the US. This guideline is based on the exposure from a six minute phone call. The typical industry jargon parroted by most conventional media is seen again here, both in the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. The New York Times states: “The law — believed to be the first of its kind in the nation — came despite a lack of conclusive scientific evidence showing that the devices are dangerous, and amid opposition from the wireless telephone industry, which views the labelling ordinance as a potential business-killing precedent.” But make no mistake about it. There is PLENTY of scientific evidence showing harm from cell phones and other wireless products. Now, it’s important to realize that although the SAR value is important, it’s by no means a sure-fire way to ensure your phone is “safe.” In fact, when all things are taken into consideration, there may not be such a thing as a completely harmless cell phone. Why? Camilla Rees, founder of ElectromagneticHealth.org explains: “The cell phone SAR value does not accurately reflect the potential for biological harm from the frequencies of the communication, and, very importantly, there are also some biological effects that have been shown to be worse at lower SAR values compared to higher SAR values, such as blood brain barrier permeability. In no way should consumers be relying on the SAR value alone as a measure of safety, but instead realize it is how one uses a cell phone (speaker phone or headset vs. against one’s head) and for how long that matters most. Many people do not realize that cell phone manuals themselves, in the small print, say you should not place the phone against your head, but keep it approximately ½” to 1″ away from your head. This important message is still not getting across to people with all the focus on the SAR value.” Likewise, Dr. Devra Davis of the Environmental Health Trust warns that, although this bill is a first step in the right direction: “It would be dangerous for people to assume that they can hold a lower SAR phone close to the head for hours a day. How and where phones are used determines the overall exposures to radiofrequency radiation.” Serious Biological Changes Observed from Cell Phone Exposure. ElectromagneticHealth.org also quotes Swedish scientist, Olle Johannson: “At the Karolinska Institute, we have for many years observed very serious biological changes from exposure to microwave radiation and extremely low-frequency magnetic fields of the kind emitted by cell phones. The type of radiation emitted by cell phones has been linked to cancer, neurological diseases, impairments to immune function, and neurological function (cognition, behaviour, performance, mood status, disruption of sleep, increased risk for auto collisions, etc.). We also know that this kind of radiation impacts DNA, leading to possible mutations and cancer development, as well as affecting fertility and reproduction, causing a dramatic decline in sperm count.” The New York Times goes on to claim that the long-awaited, 13-country Interphone study published last month “found no increased risk for the two most common types of brain tumours.” And that “in the most extreme cell phone users, there was a small increase in a type of cancer that attacks the cells that surround nerve cells, though researchers found that finding inconclusive.” Again, this is little more than regurgitations of the unscientific and already refuted position of the industry. Serious Design Flaws Uncovered in Largest Cell Phone Study Ever Conducted Some of the most important findings of the Interphone study were left out by the New York Times reporting, such as the fact that “heavy users” at the time — who would be considered very “light users” today—showed a “quadrupled risk of brain cancer and a quintupled risk of meningioma when the total use time was between 1 and 4 years and the number of hours of use was over 1,640.” See The International EMF Collaborative’s “Counter-View of the Interphone Study”, May 17, 2010. The notable findings, outlined in this “Counter-View Report”, were downplayed by the media with the reporting emphasis instead being on the overall results which found “no increased risk”, or exactly what industry would probably like you to think. The reality of the situation is that the Interphone study has already been shown to be seriously flawed.