Sunday, August 10, 2008

The cost to society of 'crying wolf' at every turn

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, August 10, 2008 2:35 PM
Subject: The cost to society of 'crying wolf' at every turn

Sunday August 10th, 2008
Opinion at -
The Vancouver Sun

Dear Vancouver Sun

I was very disappointed at the editorial by Dan Gardner on Saturday August 09, 2008 and his very negative comments about Dr. Ronald Herberman and Toronto Public Health, on the subject of cell phone safety. He is very misinformed, if he really thinks that there is little serious science that links cell phones to serious adverse health effects.

Here are some effects, caused by cell phones, that were documented by (the late) Dr. Neil Cherry in 2001 -

Cell Phone Radiation Research:

For years the cell phone companies and government authorities have assured us that cell phone are perfectly safe. For example, they claim that the particular set of radiation parameter associated with cell phones are not the same as any other radio signal and therefore earlier research does not apply. They also mount biased review teams who falsely dismiss any results that indicate adverse biological and health effects and the flawed pre-assumption that the only possible effect is tissue heating. There is a very large body of scientific research that challenges this view. Now we have published research, primarily funded by governments and industry that shows that cell phone radiation causes the following effects:

Neurological Activity:

  • Alters brain activity including EEG, Von Klitzing (1995), Mann and Roschkle (1996), Krause et al. (2000).

  • Disturbs sleep, Mann and Roschkle (1996), Bordely et al. (1999).

  • Alters sleep EEG after awake exposure, Huber et al. (2000).

  • Alters human reaction times, Preece et al. (1999), Induced potentials, Eulitz et al. (1998), slow brain potentials, Freude et al. (1998), Response and speed of switching attention (need for car driving) significantly worse, Hladky et al. (1999). Altered reaction times and working memory function (positive), Koivisto et al. (2000), Krause et al. (2000).

  • Brain cortex interaction as shown by significantly altered human EEG by cellphone radiation, during a 15 minute exposure, Lebedeva et al. (2000).

  • Weakens the blood brain barrier (p<0.0001): st="on">Salford, L.G. and Brun, A., 1997.

  • A Fifteen minute exposure, increased auditory brainstem response and hearing deficiency in 2 kHz to 10 kHz range, Kellenyi et al. (1999).

  • While driving, with 50 minutes per month with a cell phone, a highly significant 5.6-fold increase in accident risk, Violanti et al. (1996); a 2-fold increase in fatal accidents with cell phone in car, Violanti et al. (1998); impairs cognitive load and detection thresholds, Lamble et al. (1999). In a large Canadian study Redelmeier and Tibshirani (1997) the risk of collision when using a cellphone was 4 time higher, RR = 4.3, 95%CI 3.0-6.5. Calls close to the time of collision has RR =4.8 for 5 minutes and RR = 5.9, p<0.001,>

  • Significant changes in local temperature, and in physiologic parameters of the CNS and cardiovascular system, Khdnisskii, Moshkarev and Fomenko (1999).

  • Causes memory loss, concentration difficulties, fatigue, and headache, in a dose response manner, (Mild et al. (1998)). Headache, discomfort, nausea, Hocking (1998).

Figure 7: Prevalence of symptoms for Norwegian mobile phone users, mainly analogue, with various categories of length of calling time per day, Mild et al. (1998).

Figure 8: Prevalence of symptoms for Swedish mobile phone users, mainly digital, with various categories of length of calling time per day, Mild et al. (1998).

These are the same symptoms that have frequently been reported as "Microwave Sickness Syndrome" or "Radiofrequency Sickness Syndrome", Baranski and Czerski (1976) and Johnson-Liakouris (1998).

Cardiac Activity:

  • Cardiac pacemaker interference: skipped three beats, Barbaro et al. (1996); showed interference, Hofgartner et al. (1996); significant interference, p<0.05 p="0.0003,">

  • Significantly increases blood pressure, Braune et al. (1998).

Hormone Activity:

  • Reduces the pituitary production of Thyrotropin (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, TSH):

  • Reduces melatonin significantly, Burch et al. (1997, 1998). A GSM cellphone reduces melatonin, but not significantly in a very small sample (N=18) of subjects, de Seze et al. (1999).

  • A reported but yet to be published Australian Study, EMRAA News, June 2000, used a Clot Retention Test on blood samples to detect hormonal changes. A group of 30 volunteers used a Nokia 6150 cellphone for 10 minutes on each of two consecutive days. The CRT test showed significant changes in the thyroid, pancreas, ovaries, testes and hormonal balance.

Reproductive Activity:

  • Decreases in sperm counts and smaller tube development in rat testes, Dasdag et al. (1999).

  • Increases embryonic mortality of chickens, Youbicier-Simo, Lebecq and Bastide (1998).

Genotoxic Activity:

  • Breaks DNA strands, Verschaeve at al. (1994), Maes et al. (1997), which is still extremely significant p<0.0001,>m W/cm2), Phillips et al. (1998).

  • Produces an up to three-fold increase in chromosome aberrations in a dose response manner from all cell phones tested, Tice, Hook and McRee, reported in Microwave News, March/April 1999. The findings were the same when the experiment was repeated and Dr Tice is quoted as stating: "There's no way you're going to get positive results twice over four different technologies as a chance result."

  • Doubles c-fos gene activity (a proto oncogene) for analogue phones and increases it by 41 % for digital phones, Goswami et al. (1999), altered c-jun gene, Ivaschuk et al. (1997), Increased hsp70 messenger RNA, Fritz et al. (1997).

  • Increases Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNK), Fesenko et al. (1999).

  • Increases ODC activity, Penafiel et al. (1997).

  • DNA synthesis and cell proliferation increased after 4 days of 20 min for 3 times/day exposure. Calcium ions were significantly altered, French, Donnellan and McKenzie (1997). Decreased cell proliferation, Kwee and Raskmark (1997), Velizarov, Raskmark and Kwee (1999)

  • Doubles the cancer in mice, Repacholi et al. (1997).

  • Increases the mortality of mobile phone users compared with portable phone users, RR = 1.38, 95%CI: 1.07-1.79, p=0.013, Rothman et al. (1996).

  • Increases human brain tumor rate by 2.5 times (Hardell et al. (1999)). Associated with an angiosarcoma (case study), Hardell (1999)

  • Hardell et al. (2000), for analogue phones OR = 2.62, 95%CI: 1.02-6.71, with higher tumour rates at points of highest exposure.

  • Significantly increases the incidence of eye cancer (Uveal Melanoma), by between OR = 4.2, 95%CI: 1.2-14.5, and OR = 10.1, 95%CI: 1.1-484.4, Stang et al. (2001).

  • United States, Motorola Study Morgan et al. (2000)

High Exposure RR = 1.07 (0.32-2.66) n = 3

Moderate Exposure RR = 1.18 (0.36-2.92) n = 3

High/Mod vs Low RR = 1.13 (0.49-2.31) n = 6

This project underestimated cancer rates by using a high cancer reference group.

  • Carlo and Schram (2001) report that in the industry funded WTR (Wireless Technology Research) programme Dr Joseph Roti Roti confirmed the Tice, Hook and McRee research showing that cellphone radiation significantly damaged DNA through observed micronuclei formation.

  • Muscat et al. (2000) report elevated brain cancer in cellphone users in the United States, with cerebral tumors occurring more frequently on the side of the head where the mobile phone had been used, (26 vs 15 cases, p=0.06) and for a rare brain cancer, neuroepitheliomatous, OR = 2.1, 95%CI: 0.9-4.7. Mean use of cell phones was 2.5 years for cases and 2.2 years for controls, showing that a small increase in cellphone use (0.3 years) produces a large increase in brain cancer risk.

  • Cell phone users in Denmark Johansen et al. (2001)

Duration of digital subscription <1>³ 3 yrs

Relative to reference group SIR 0.7 0.9 1.2

Relative to <1>

Other cancers are set out in "Table 2" below. Over 67 % of phone users had used their phones for 2 years or less. The reference group had a higher than average cancer rate than the age range of cell phone users, underestimating the cancer rates. This is shown by Standard Incidence Ratios (SIR) of some groups being as little as 0.6. For example SIR for users for <1>

Table two shows that even with little cellphone use, and even with the use of a high cancer reference group, there are several elevated cancers approaching significance: Testicular cancer SIR = 1.12, 95%CI: 0.97-1.30, Cervical cancer, SIR = 1.34, 95%CI: 0.95-1.85, Female Pharynx cancer, SIR 2.43, 95%CI: 0.65-6.22, Esophagus cancer, SIR = 1.53, 95%CI: 0.31-4.46 and female breast cancer, SIR = 1.08, 95%CI: 0.91-1.26.


To date over 50 studies have shown adverse biological or human health effects specifically from cell phone radiation. These research results to date clearly show that cell phones and cell phone radiation are a strong risk factor for all of the adverse health effects identified for EMR because they share the same biological mechanisms. The greatest risk is to cell phone users because of the high exposure to their heads and the great sensitivity of brain tissue and brain processes. DNA damage accelerates cell death in the brain, advancing neurodegenerative diseases and brain cancer. Brain tumour is already an identified risk factor. Cell phones are carried on people's belts and in breast pockets. Hence liver cancer, breast cancer and testicular cancer became probable risk factors.

Altered attention and cognition, as well as the diversion of talking on a phone while driving is a significant risk factor for accidents and fatal accidents.

Some cardiac pacemakers are susceptible to active cell phone signals, recommending keeping cell phones away from hearts and pacemakers.

Because the biological mechanisms are shown and EMR has been observed to significantly increase the following effects, there is extremely strong evidence to conclude that cell phones are a risk factor for breast, liver, testicular and brain cancer. It is also probable that we will observe a very wide range of other effects including cardiac, neurological and reproductive illness and death. Since cell phone radiation cause many cell damages including DNA and chromosome damage, all of these effects will also be caused by cell sites.

Dose-response studies of neurological, cardiac, reproductive and cancer effects in human populations all point to a near zero exposure level of no effect, Cherry (2000). Since cellphone radiation mimics RF/MW radiation effects which mimics ELF biological and health, the adverse effects occur across the spectrum and includes cellphone radiation, with a safe exposure level of zero.

Hence a risk reduction and public health protection based on keeping exposure below a level that doubles the risk, identifies 0.1 m W/cm2 as the maximum acceptable exposure. This should allow a mean life-time exposure to be less than 0.01m W/cm2 which is necessary to reduce the risk of neurological effects. The lower level is necessary because of the exquisite sensitivity of the brain.

Clearly, these are not insignificant scientific studies, but there are many more. If you read the Bio-Initiative report, which can be accessed at , you will understand that the scientific evidence of cell phones, causing adverse health effects, is very clear.

Its about time that reporters put away their cell phones for a few days and conduct investigative reports about the real facts of cell phones and the known damage being caused by microwave radiation.

In the case of cell phones and the adverse health effects that they cause, it is already too late to cry wolf. The wolf pack (cell phones, cordless phones, WiFi wireless games etc.) is already inside the house and they are starting to devour the occupants.

I will be glad to provide further information.

Yours sincerely

Martin Weatherall


The cost to society of 'crying wolf' at every turn
Precautionary moves are seldom as cost-free as they are assumed to be

Dan Gardner
Canwest News Service
Cellphones are the latest target of activists, who have little science to back up their claims.
CREDIT: Marcos Brindicci, Reuters
Cellphones are the latest target of activists, who have little science to back up their claims.

The tobacco industry stared into the abyss. Scientific evidence that smoking kills was accumulating. Prominent health officials declared themselves convinced that tobacco was a menace. If politicians and the public accepted this message, the empire of the cigarette could collapse.

And so the industry embarked on a public relations campaign unlike anything seen before. The point wasn't to burnish a brand or peddle a product. It was to attack the source of the industry's troubles -- the science -- the only way it could.

"Doubt is our product," declared an infamous internal memo written in 1966. The industry couldn't prove cigarettes were safe. But it could question the evidence that smoking kills. As long as there was a sliver of uncertainty about the science -- and it is in the nature of science that there is always some uncertainty -- the tobacco companies could say the science wasn't conclusive. And until it was conclusive, people could keep puffing away.

We've come a long way, baby. Long gone are the days when nothing less than perfect certainty was needed to convince people and governments a product is unsafe.

But increasingly, it seems we've swung round to the opposite extreme.

Last month, Toronto public health authorities issued a statement urging parents to minimize the use of cellphones by children and teenagers. A few weeks ago, Dr. Ronald Herberman, the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, issued a memo to staff suggesting that both children and adults should reduce their use of cellphones as much as possible. Similar warnings have been issued in Europe.

This is serious stuff. Is there serious science to go with it?

Not really. "Overall," reports the U.S. National Cancer Institute, "research has not consistently demonstrated a link between cellular telephone use and cancer or any other adverse health effect." A spokesman told the National Post that: "Health Canada sees no scientific reason to consider the use of cellphones as unsafe."

And because the types of cancer allegedly caused by cellphones are very rare, any risk -- if there is one -- "is probably very small," adds the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

These conclusions aren't actually disputed by the authorities warning against cellphone use. What they argue instead is -- however much nobler the intentions -- almost the mirror image of the tobacco industry's doubt campaign.

There is some evidence that cellphones might cause harm, they say. And there are large gaps in the research. And that's enough to act.

"At the heart of my concern," Dr. Herberman told Associated Press, "is that we shouldn't wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later."

Yes, it's the "precautionary principle" again.

On one level, precaution makes perfect sense. Of course, we shouldn't demand scientific certainty before we accept that a product is unsafe. That was the tobacco industry's standard and it resulted in millions of unnecessary deaths.

But how much evidence is needed before we take precautionary action?

Informed speculation surely isn't enough.

One researcher at Duke University is concerned about folate. Pregnant women take it as a supplement and it's added to breakfast cereals because it reduces the risk of spinal tube defects. But this researcher speculates that "it could also be inducing as-yet-unknown, damaging epigenetic effects," reports the New Scientist.

There are countless hypotheses like this. Start reacting on this basis and most of the stuff on store shelves will have to go.

So we should demand more than speculation. But how much more?

The answer to that should vary depending on what "precaution" entails. If the cost of precaution is zero -- or at most, trivial inconvenience -- the evidentiary standard can be pretty low. But as the cost rises, so should the evidentiary standard.

I think most advocates of the precautionary principle wouldn't object to this. Where we part company is in how we calculate costs.

People urging "precaution" almost always present it as a no-cost option. Trade-offs -- such as safe drinking water in exchange for the carcinogenic byproducts of chlorine treatment -- are rarely mentioned. Neither is the possibility of unintended consequences. Or the subtle costs so often imposed when we "err on the side of caution."

One of these subtle costs is slowing the adoption of a technology.

In the mid-19th century, electricity was just beginning to be put to industrial and domestic use and it provoked deep fears. People didn't understand it. And what they heard from scientists and others about the risks posed by electricity -- much of it fanciful nonsense -- was not reassuring. Worse, every electrocution or house fire caused by faulty wiring was treated as headline news.

This was a rough-and-ready world with little of the modern aversion to risk, and yet concerns about electricity were so profound it took more than half a century for electrification to spread throughout U.S. life. If the precautionary principle had been entrenched in that era, how much longer would electrification have taken? Considerably, I suspect. And how much would that delay have cost in terms of economic and social progress? A great deal, I am sure.

Advocates of precaution also fail to acknowledge that unnecessary worry is a serious cost.

In 1992, the USFDA banned silicone breast implants. The FDA emphasized the ban wasn't being imposed because there was substantial evidence that implants caused connective-tissue diseases such as lupus. In fact, the evidence was quite thin. Instead, the FDA said it was banning the implants until such time as proper research proved they were safe. It was a classic precautionary move.

The science advanced. And one study after another showed the implants were safe. In 2006, the FDA lifted the ban.

Better safe than sorry, right? Well, the FDA's ban bankrupted implant manufacturer Dow Corning. Worse, it inflicted years of hellish fear on women with implants -- which is surely a terrible cost.

A similar dynamic can be seen in the Canadian government's ban on bisphenol A in baby bottles and other children's products. It was presented as a no-cost move. But there is a cost: Millions of parents now worry they have poisoned their children.

Last Thursday, the European Union's food safety agency declared bisphenol A safe for baby bottles and other children's products (not that the Canadian media bothered to report it). If the science continues to go in that direction, the Canadian government will have inflicted fears to no good end.

And there's yet another subtle cost: Attention. People only have so much time and cognitive capacity to spare. Proliferating warnings about possible risks clutter up the information environment. Inevitably, people will start tuning them out. Worse, they may devote their limited attention to risks that, even if proven, are relatively minor -- cellphones, pesticides -- while ignoring warnings about proven major risks like obesity, smoking, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise.

These are all real costs. If the advocates of precaution wish to truly be cautious, they must take them into account.

And they must be more cautious about urging caution.

© The Vancouver Sun 2008