Sunday, July 27, 2008

EMR cancer and other illnesses

Hi All
These are not news items, but they contain a great deal of information which links electro magnetic radiation and microwave radiation with cancer and ill health. The first item by Alasdair Philips of 'Powerwatch', appears to be about ten years old, yet the information is still of great importance and relevance today.
Please visit the web sites that are linked below, they contain strong scientific information about EMR from USA, Poland and Israel.

This is based on a talk I gave a few months ago. A few of you saw an early copy of it, but I thought it was now worth making it available to the wider EMF community. Please make use of it and freely copy it. IF you leave my name on it please COPY IT ALL. Thanks.

Adverse Health Concerns of Mobile Phones
by Alasdair Philips

EMC Consultant & Director of the Powerwatch Network


When new technology is introduced, with all its advertising hype, a fair number of the public usually get carried along with considerable enthusiasm. Mobile phones were no exception. When they first appeared, many people saw a mobile phone as a sign of success and status.

When I was a child, back in the early 1950s, I was bought a new pair of shoes. The manufacturer had just introduced a wonderful new pedascope machine to check how well your shoes fitted your feet. You inserted your feet into a hole and looked down at a display screen. Even today, I clearly remember the wonder at being able to wiggle my toes and see them move inside my shoes.

The machine used X-rays at quite a high level to give real-time images on a simple screen. It was ten years before Dr Alice Stewart produced research which showed that there was no safe level of X-rays, and even then few listened. In fact she was almost outcast from the medical establishment, and it was about another twenty years before the real danger from medical X-rays was acknowledged.

Now, in the 1990s the U.K. National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) is fighting a rearguard action, trying to persuade hospitals to minimise patient X-ray exposure.

Asbestos has been strictly controlled since 1970, and the use of most dangerous types banned. Despite this, deaths from mesothelioma (an asbestos induced cancer of the pleura/lungs) are rising consistently and the U.K. death rate is not expected to peak until about 2020. The time between the first exposure and death is now accepted as often being between 20 and 50 years. Most environmental cancers in adults take longer than ten years from initiation to detection.

Mobile phones

The mobile phone growth explosion is only just happening now. If EMFs do turn out to be carcinogenic, even if we backdate it five we backdate it five years, we should not be expecting to see much in the way of carcinogenic effects for another ten years. In the meantime we discover that major phone manufacturers are quietly (and prudently) patenting EMF reducing cases and aerials.

We also find interesting, and not very re-assuring, advice in a Motorola User Manual: [1] DO NOT hold the cellular telephone such that the antenna is in contact with exposed parts of the body, especially the face or eyes, while the unit is turned on. (OK, that is reasonable).

When used with an externally mounted vehicular antenna DO NOT operate the cellular telephone when a bystander is within one foot (0.3m) of the externally mounted antenna. (Hmm. Is it all right to fry your own head, but not someone else's? It is difficult to believe that vehicle antennas are that much more efficient radiators).

Despite the impression that mobile-phone companies give in their literature, little work has been done on the long term human health implications of mobile-phone use. This means that current mobile-phone users are acting as involuntary, and often unsuspecting, test subjects. Past research into microwave radiation effects on health certainly gives rise to concern.

Public awareness

Public awareness of possible dangers was probably triggered originally by the Reynard brain tumour case in 1992. About eight lawsuits alleging that cellular phones caused brain tumours have been filed in the USA. Although these cases haven't succeeded, they have set the stage, and raised safety questions in many people minds. It has raised old spectres such as the thalidomide tragedy - the result of a product being used widely before adequate long term research had been carried out. That resulted in much misery for the families involved, and long drawn out and expensive lawsuits.

Cancer implications

In fact, there is little recent evidence that brain tumours are a likely outcome. If there are long term cancer implications, then they will most likely be myeloid leukaemias and multiple melanomas. Back in the early 1980s Sam Milham reported excess leukaemias among amateur radio operators, with deaths from acute and chronic myeloid leukaemias nearly three times higher than expected.

In 1980, Dr John Holt had a letter published [2]. This showed that between 1951-59, 50% of patients with CML in Queensland survived 55 months. In 1960 and 1961 three large TV broadcast stations were commissioned in the area. In the period 1963-67, 50% of patients with CML only survived 21 months. This dramatic change could not be explained by any medical personnel or therapy changes.

In the mid-1980s Stanislaw Szmigielski reported that Polish military personnel exposed to RF energy showed elevated leukaemia levels. He has just published a 1996 update. [3] This is a study of all Polish military personnel for 15 years (1971-85), approximately 128,000 people each year. Of these about 3700 (3%) were considered to be occupationally exposed to radio-frequency and / or microwave radiation.

The largest increasing were found for chronic myelocytic leukaemia (CML), with an astounding odds ratio (OR) of 13.9 (95%CI 6.72-22.12, p<0.001), acute myeloblastic leukaemia (AML) with an OR of 8.62 (95%CI 3.54-13.67, p<0.001), and non-Hodgkin lymphomas with an OR of 5.82 (95%CI 3.54-13.67, p<0.001).

The 1996 paper by Lai & Singh, showing single and double DNA strand breaks in brain cells of rats exposed to 2.45GHz SARs of 1.2 W/Kg (comparable with levels in the heads of mobile phone users), also gives rise to concern. [4]

If someone is completely healthy, and has a strong immune system, then mobile-phone use may well not give them long-term health problems. Some people can smoke twenty cigarettes per day for fifty years and not develop lung cancer, and yet the dangers of smoking are now generally accepted. It has been repeatedly shown that a few minutes exposure to cell phone type radiation can transform a 5% active cancer into a 95% active cancer for the duration of the exposure and for a short time afterwards. [5]

I postulate that if there is a cancer connection with the use of mobile phones, it is likely to be seen in these leukaemias. Adult leukaemias take many years to appear and be diagnosed, taking maybe between 10 and 30 years after the initial cell transformation. It is therefore unlikely that the trend will start to be seen for at least another five, probably ten, years. I hope the industry has good insurance cover!

Short term exposure of rats is no answer. Cancer is being increasingly recognised as an organisational systems problem, and no short term speeded up animal experiments are likely to give the same results as extended period chronic exposure to the human bio-system.

Are there problems that occur in the short term?

I would answer "Yes, there are". Following the BBC TV Watchdog programme and various media articles, Powerwatch has been receiving calls from mobile phone users who believe that they are experiencing problems.

Following a magazine article, we recently received calls from British Telecom engineers who had been issued with GSM phones. These are people who are generally very sceptical of EMF adverse health effects. They are reporting: Headaches, poor short term memory and concentration, tingling / burning/ or twitching skin on the side of their face nearest the phone, eye problems including 'dry eye' causing irritation with blinking of the eyelid, and buzzing in their ears not only while actually using the phone, but also on waking up during the night.

These symptoms bear a close resemblance to those in a study of a Latvian pulsed radio location station at Skrunda. This emits short 0.8 milliseconds pulses of 154 - 162MHz every 41ms, giving a rate of 24 pulses per second. In a study of 966 children aged 9-18 years old, motor function, memory and attention were significantly worse in the exposed group. Children living in front of the station had less developed memory and attention, their reaction time was slower and their neuromuscular endurance was decreased. The RMS field levels at their houses were typically only 1V/m, and a maximum level of 6 V/m or 10(W/cm2. [6]

Reports linking RF energy with asthenias had been reported by Charlotte Silverman back in 1973, and again in 1980, as what she called "radio wave sickness". [7]

In another study near the Latvian radio station, differences in micronuclei levels in peripheral erythrocytes were found to be statistically significant in the exposed and control groups. This is evidence of genetic changes caused by athermal (non-thermal) levels of pulsed radio-frquency radiation.[8]

Maximum exposure levels

When maximum exposure levels were set in the 1950s, they were based on the field levels the human body could withstand without causing a significant rise (1°C) in body temperature. The possibility of non-thermal effects was discounted. Despite considerable evidence in published scientific literature, this still continues to be the case. However, the conclusions section of the NRPB "Doll Report", on non-ionising radiation effects, states: "Animal studies conducted at frequencies above about 100kHz have provided some evidence for effects on tumour incidence...". [9] At cellular telephone frequency bands of 900MHz and 1.8GHz, the current U.K. NRPB investigation levels had the effect of raising the U.K. permitted levels to 10 Watts per Kg in the head. The 1991 USA ANSI/IEEE C95.1 guidelines set the SAR at 1.6 W/Kg, and the CENELEC pre-standard states 2 W/Kg for the public. It has been shown that cellular-phones can deliver well over 2 W/Kg into head tissue during their output pulses, but they are said to comply because over each second the average power is only one-eighth of the pulse power (GSM and PCN digital phones).

Unlike the earlier analogue-phones, the new digital GSM ones emit a series of 546(s radio-frequency (RF) pulses at a repetition rate of 217Hz. Pulsed microwaves have been shown to be more biologically active than continuous radiation of the same frequency and power level. Take an operating digital GSM mobile-phone near an ordinary medium wave radio and you will hear a "rattle-clatter " buzzing noise. These pulses are also picked up and detected by the cells inside the user's and other nearby people's heads. In fact, up to 50% of the transmitted power can be absorbed by the user's head, which means that their brain cells are being "hit" by these radiation pulses two hundred and seventeen times every second.

The NRPB, and others, average the power from a digital phone over 1 second, and so divide the pulse power by eight. They correctly argue that the tissue has time to cool down between pulses, and then go on to deduce that no damage will therefore take place. This is similar to saying that placing a hammer on a "cell" (an egg, for example) exerting a small steady force, will produce the same effect as hitting the egg, using eight times the force briefly once a second. As well as being an electronics engineer, I am a qualified Agricultural Engineer - and I know that, when trying to loosen a stuck nut and bolt, the effect of constant pressure on the spanner is FAR less than when tapping the spanner with a hammer. At the same time (1993) as the NRPB raised its permitted microwave levels, two military research bases in the USA reduced their permitted levels of radio frequency exposure (30MHz to 100GHz) from 100W/m2 down to 1W/m2, (0.1mW/cm2 or 100µW/cm2 ). This is because they acknowledge that there is now an overwhelming body of published evidence of the positive existence of non-thermal biological effects of high-frequency radiation. [10]

Some non-thermal effects

Important non-thermal biological effects have been demonstrated which could account for the development of cancer, asthma and the lowering of male fertility. Dr John A.G. Holt was the first Medical Director of the Institute of Radiotherapy and Oncology of Western Australia.

Cancerous tissue has increased conductivity compared with normal tissue. In 1974, Dr. Holt and Dr. Nelson were able to show that the specific effect of RF energy on cancer was to radio-sensitise a malignancy. Some cancers could have their radio-sensitivity increased by a factor exceeding 100 times. Since non electrical heating of cancer to 41.8°C increased radio-sensitivity by a factor of 2 to 3 and 434 MHz increased sensitivity by 100 to 150 times at less than 38°C, this is a non thermal effect. Every cancer demonstrated an increase in sensitivity but in those that were normally treated with radiotherapy this was at its maximum, whereas in those not usually treatable by X-ray Therapy it was minimal. [11]

Dr Peter French, Principal Scientific Officer in the Centre for Immunology, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, Australia, has been carrying out experiments on a range of human and animal cell lines using 835MHz exposure at 4.9mW/cm2, 3 times per day for 7 days. He has shown effects on cell growth (some cells show an increased growth rate and some, including gliomas, show a decreased growth rate), cell shape, secretion of histamine and on gene transcription. These studies were funded by Dr John Holt, and now Dr French is seeking Australian government funding to continue these early, preliminary experiments. The work is currently submitted for publication to peer-reviewed scientific journals, and more details will be available after it has been accepted for publication. Dr French is the Immediate Past President of the Australia and New Zealand Society for Cell Biology. [12]

These key new areas of work are not being funded or supported by industry.

Microshield Industries launched a new EMF shielding mobile phone case range earlier this year. It received quite a lot of media publicity, and claims of "worthless" from the cellular phone industry. However, it does reduce the power absorbed by the user's head by some 10 to 20dBm (i.e. by a factor of between 10 and 100). Many purchasers of these Microshield cases are now expressing delight at having found a way of using their phones without experiencing the adverse side effects.

Base station masts

There is currently growing public concern about the number of base station masts that are being errected, and the effect these may have on both health and on property values. The field strengths from masts is low and it is unlikely to be more of a problem than any other form of RF data communications, however increasing worries are surfacing about all levels of RF energy, especially when digital signal bursts are transmitted.

In the Australian Government's media release, announcing the $4.5 million project, the Minister for Health and Family Services, Dr. Michael Woolridge states: "While there is no substantiated evidence available to date of adverse health effects associated with RF EME (radio frequency electromagnetic energy) exposure within the standards that apply in Australia and overseas..."

Where is Dr. Woolridge getting the information from?... According to the press release, it must be from the EME (electromagnetic energy) Advisory Committee.

When one looks at what few epidemiological studies that have been done to date on RF/MW human exposure, there is ample evidence of adverse health effects to warrant concern.

The catch word in Dr. Woolridge's statement is "substantiated" evidence. This essentially means proven evidence. To use the term "proven" or "substantiated" is somewhat misleading. Epidemiological studies on human populations do not look for "proof" or "substantiation" but increases in incidence of a disease, or relative risk ratios.

Epidemiological studies on tobacco and asbestos did not "substantiate" that these carcinogens cause cancer, they do show, however, a significant increased risk of developing cancer from exposure. This is not "substantiation", but that did not prevent the health authorities from taking corrective action. It is unfortunate that with electromagnetic radiation however industry and its supporters insist an absolute connection must be found before correction action be taken.

The following recent studies do not "substantiate" anything in relation to exposure to RF/MW; they are dealing with the increase in incidence of adverse health effects such as cancer. These relevant which should be of interest to anyone involved in EME health issues and who is concerned with a possible association with the human population:

a) The recent Bruce Hocking preliminary study compared cancer rates in three municipalities within a 4km radius of Sydney TV towers with rates in adjacent areas further away. The study found children living within the 4km. radius had a relative risk of 1.61 for leukaemia, compared with the control group. The relative risk for mortality was higher at 2.25, and highest at 2.84 for fatal lymphoblastic leukaemia. [13]

The calculated power density levels within the 4 km. area were calculated to be in the order of 0.02 to 8 microwatts/, up to 1000 times less than the Australian RF/MW safety standard of 200 microwatts/

b) In 1987, a similar study identified higher rates of cancer among those living near the TV and radio broadcast towers in Honolulu, Hawaii. Drs. Bruce Anderson and Alden Henderson of the Hawaii Department of Health found in a study of several thousand people in residential areas with about 12 communication towers in the midst, a relative risk for cancer, including leukaemia, of 1.375 (37.5% increase). This study was never followed up. [14]

c) An earlier study in 1982, conducted by Dr. William Morton of the University of Oregon's Health Science Centre in Portland, Oregon found parallel trends in his study of cancer and broadcast radiation in Portland. [15]

d) Dr. Stanislaw Szmigieski, a leading epidemiologist with the Centre for Radiobiology and Radiation Safety at the Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Warsaw, Poland has been the team leader for an on-going study of the health effects of RF/MW exposure of military personnel in Poland for the whole military population. His research found that young military personnel exposed to RF/MW radiation had more than eight times the expected rate of leukaemia and lymphoma. Careful surveys of exposure revealed that 80 - 85% of the personnel were exposed to an average of less that 42 microwatts/sq. cm., with a median point near 7 microwatts/sq. cm. [3]

e) Ouellet-Hellstrom and Stewart (1993) found a statistically significant 3.3 fold increase of miscarriage amongst U.S. physiotherapists using microwave diathermy compared to a non-exposed control group. The incidence increased with the number of monthly treatments, which could suggest a cumulative effect. At an average of about 10 treatments per month the estimated exposure was about 0.04 to 0.56 microwatts/sq. cm. [16]

f) Shandala et. al. (1979) found that calcium ion efflux varies in living animal cells at 10 micro watts/ and this level also produces brain activity changes. [17]

g) von Klitzing (1995) found changes to human brain EEG with a signal of 217 Hz modulation on a 150 megahertz (MHz) carrier with an external exposure of about 2.5 microwatts/ [18]

h) Dr. John Goldsmith, Professor of Epidemiology at Burn Gurion University of the Negev, Israel has collected evidence of several occupational and military exposures to microwaves which produced elevated risks of a wide range of cancers, including childhood leukaemia in children of staff, and cancers in the staff and partners at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and other eastern European U.S. embassies. These cancers were associated with a reported maximum exposure of between 5 and 15 microwatts. and mean exposures between 1 and 2.4. microwatts/, recorded near the outside walls of the embassy. Exposures inside the building should be somewhat smaller than these readings. [19]

i) To quote from Dr. Neil Cherry's (New Zealand) recent paper of March 1996 Potential and Actual Adverse Effects of Cellsite Microwave Radiation: [20]

"With these and dozens of other epidemiological studies of large populations and large numbers of workers occupationally exposed to RF/MW radiation, showing statistically significant increases of a wide spectrum of cancers, there can be little or no doubt that chronic low level exposure to RF/MW radiation produces increased cancer risk."

j) The Latvian pulsed radar station study mentioned earlier in this talk. [6]

Considering these studies and the evidence of an increased cancer risk, at levels well below the current Australian RF/MW standard of 200 microwatts/, for Dr. Wooldridge to state that "there is no substantiated evidence available to date of adverse health effects..." indicates that he is not getting proper advice.

Who can the public turn to for advice? Part of my remit was to answer the question whether the public should be suspicious of soothing statements from people responsible for advice on these matters.

Dr. Alastair McKinlay, of the UK NRPB, is the vice-Chair of an "Expert Group" set up by the European Commission. He is recently quoted as stating: What is now required is a lot more research in the microwave frequency part of the electromagnetic spectrum, where mobile phones operate. This is not because there is concern about health effects, but that such research makes sense to quell any public concern. [21]

One has to question whether this is the right attitude to adopt when trying to discover scientific truths.

This E.C. Committee is, however, just recommending (due this week) a 24 million ECU (about £20m) funding programme for research in mobile phone safety.

Michael Repacholi, who heads up the W.H.O. programme, has been severely criticised in Australia about the way he has chaired their RF Standards Committee. He is on record as saying that there are no athermal adverse health effects, and saying that the main reason to up the Australian limits by a factor of five is "to provide GATT economic benefits". It has been publicly stated that it is not correct for a single person, who has a long standing financial relationship with the telecommunications industry and who defends their position on the safety of EMR by testifying in court on their behalf, should have so much influence in the setting of RF public health standards. [22]


Powerwatch believes that, although much more research needs doing, regular mobile-phone use is likely to have adverse health consequences in the people who use them.

The newer, digital, ones are likely to have more biological effects than the older, analogue, ones. While we accept that the existing evidence does not yet prove that there are any long-term adverse health implications, on our understanding of published research we need to advise people to use them as little as possible.

Refs: [ 1 ] General Safety Information, User's Manual for Micro T.A.C Ultra Lite, Motorola [ 2 ] The Medical Journal of Australia, Vol.1, No.12 14th June 1980 [ 3 ] The Science of the Total Environment 180, Elsevier, 1996, pp9-17 [ 4 ] Lai & Singh, Int.J.Rad.Biol.,V.69,pp513-521, April 1996 [ 5 ] John Holt, BBC1 TV Watchdog Programme, 3rd June 1996 [ 6 ] The Science of the Total Environment 180, Elsevier, 1996, pp 87-93 [ 7 ] Charlotte Silverman (Am.J.Epi, 1973, & Proc IEEE V79, pp78-84 1980) [ 8 ] The Science of the Total Environment 180, Elsevier, 1996, pp 81-86 [ 9 ] NRPB "Doll Report" (Doc.NRPB V3, No1, 1992) and follow up statements. [10] Microwave News, September/October 1993, pp 1,10,12 [11] John Holt, Powerwatch Network Technical Supplement, May 1996 [12] Peter French, personal communication, October 1996 [13] Microwave News, Vol. XV, No.6, Nov/Dec 1995, p1 & p16 [14] Mobile Phones and their Transmitter Base Stations - EM Facts Info. Service,*p.7 [15] Microwave News, Vol. XV, No. 6, Nov./Dec 1995, p16 [16] Quellet-Hellstrom, R., and Stewart W.F., Am. J. Epi., 138, No. 10, Nov. 1993, pp 775 - 784 [17] Shandala, M.G. & Vinogradov, Imunological effects of microwave action, JPRS 72956, p16, (1979). Also see same authors: Microwave Radiation as Autoimune Inductor. Abstracts BEMS 12th Ann. Meeting, San Antonio, 1990. [18] Von Klitzing,, L. LF pulsed EMF influence EEG of man, submitted to Physica Medica, 1995 [19] Goldsmith, J.R., 'Epi. Evidence of RF Effects...' Int. J. Environmental Health, 1, 1995, pp 47-57 [20] 17 April 1995 paper. Contact Dr. Neil Cherry, Lincoln Univ., N.Z., email Copy is in 'Mobile Phones and their Base Station Masts.....' * [21] Electronics and Wireless World, November 1996, p821 [22] Exposure to RF Radiation - a Growing Concern. ACATT, Australia, 1996. *EMFacts Information Service, PO Box 96, North Hobart, Tasmania, 7002, AUSTRALIA The Powerwatch Network is contactable at:

2, Tower Road, Sutton, Ely, Cambs., CB6 2QA Fax:01353 777646; email:

Alasdair Philips (


Cancer morbidity in subjects occupationally exposed to high frequency (radiofrequency and microwave) electromagnetic radiation

Stanislaw Szmigielski

Department of Biological Effect of Non-Ionizing Radiations, Center for Radiobiology and Radiation Safety at the Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, 128 Szaserow, 00-909, Warsaw, Poland

Available online 25 February 1999.


Cancer morbidity was registered in the whole population of military career personnel in Poland during a period of 15 years (1971–1985). Subjects exposed occupationally to radiofrequencies (RF) and microwaves (MW) were selected from the population on the basis of their service records and documented exposures at service posts. The population size varied slightly from year to year with a mean count of about 128 000 persons each year; each year about 3700 of them (2.98%) were considered as occupationally exposed to RF/MW. All subjects (exposed and non-exposed to RF/MW) were divided into age groups (20–29, 30–39, 40–49 and 50–59). All newly registered cases of cancer were divided into 12 types based on localisation of the malignancy; for neoplasms of the haemopoietic system and lymphatic organs an additional analysis based on diagnosis was performed. Morbidity rates (per 100 000 subjects annually) were calculated for all of the above localisations and types of malignancies both for the whole population and for the age groups. The mean value of 15 annual rates during 1971–1985 represented the respective morbidity rate for the whole period. Morbidity rates in the non-exposed groups of personnel were used as 'expected' (E) rates for the exposed subjects, while the real morbidity rates counted in the RF/MW-exposed personnel served as 'observed' (O) rates. This allowed the calculation of the observed/expected ratio (OER) representing the odds ratio for the exposed groups. The cancer morbidity rate for RF/MW-exposed personnel for all age groups (20–59 years) reached 119.1 per 100 000 annually (57.6 in non-exposed) with an OER of 2.07, significant at P < 0.05. The difference between observed and expected values results from higher morbidity rates due to neoplasms of the alimentary tract (OER = 3.19–3.24), brain tumours (OER = 1.91) and malignancies of the haemopoietic system and lymphatic organs (OER = 6.31). Among malignancies of the haemopoietic/lymphatic systems, the largest differences in morbidity rates between exposed and non-exposed personnel were found for chronic myelocytic leukaemia (OER = 13.9), acute myeloblastic leukaemia (OER = 8.62) and non-Hodgkin lymphomas (OER = 5.82).

Author Keywords: Radiofrequency radiation, cancer morbidity; Microwave radiation, cancer morbidity; Military personnel; Poland



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