Subject: Radiation: Just how bad is it for us?? (neurosurgeon Keith Goh)
This story was printed from TODAYonline
Radiation: Just how bad is it for us??
Doctor links mobile phone use to malignant tumours here, but other experts disagree
Thursday • August 14, 2008
Tan Hui Leng
WELL-KNOWN neurosurgeon Keith Goh has seen an increase in the number of cases of malignant brain tumours and this is worrying him — especially as more and more are young adults, even children.
And his view on why this is happening goes to the heart of a long-raging controversy to which there are still no conclusive answers, and which divides fellow experts in Singapore: The effects of mobile phone radiation.
"It takes a few years for the tumours to develop, but there seems to be a good amount of evidence that the radiation that comes from the mobile phone contributes toward the development of brain tumours.
"I think we are at this stage in time just seeing the tip of the iceberg," said Dr Goh, best known to the public for his role in operations to separate conjoined twins: Nepalese pair Ganga and Jamuna Shrestha in 2001, and in 2003, Iranians Ladan and Laleh Bijani as well as a pair of Korean twins.
Since he began practising neurosurgery in the 1990s, brain tumour cases were mainly in those 50 years and above. Today, he is seeing more adults in their 20s to their mid-40s, among both his local and foreign patients. In the last four months alone, Dr Goh has seen 12 new cases — the youngest aged two and four.
And this is not because detection has improved, he says. If it was, "we would be seeing more patients with small tumours but these are large tumours". He estimates that a decade ago, 30 per cent of brain tumours would be malignant; now, it's 50 per cent.
Dr Goh is not the only expert who is concerned. Last month, the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Dr Ronald Herberman, urged staff to keep phones always from their heads and to let children use them only in emergencies.
In a memo, he said: "We shouldn't wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry."
'No concrete link'
Dr Goh is holding a forum here onAug 23 on worldwide brain cancer incidence, its relation to mobile phone use and treatments. But his opinion — that there is a strong correlation with increased mobile phone usage — hardly represents a consensus, and various research studies worldwide have come to conflicting conclusions.
Neurosurgeon in private practice Ng Puay Yong, for one, thinks we should not worry as there is "no concrete data to show this (link)" between health and electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones.
Dr Ng said he has not seen any significant increase in the number of patients who come to him with brain tumours. The National Neuroscience Institute also has not seen a growth in the 150 or so brain tumour cases it gets each year.
From the physics point of view, Assistant Professor Vitali Zagorodnov, from the Nanyang Technological University's School of Computer Engineering, feels "there's no good reason why mobile phones should cause brain tumours".
After all, the radio waves received and emitted by, say, television sets and microwave ovens are similar to that given out by mobile phones, he said. "There is no interaction between the radio-magnetic field and human tissue."
The World Health Organization (WHO) should soon unveil the results of its own four-year study. But meanwhile, it states on its website that "current scientific evidence" signals that exposure to radiofrequency (RF) fields, emitted by mobile phones and their base stations, "is unlikely to induce or promote cancers".
Solid proof too late?
Even so, 54 engineering and medical scientists worldwide have signed the Venice Resolutionexpressing worry about the effectsof electromagnetic fields on health.
While Dr Goh acknowledges that current research is only "suggestive", he argues: "This is reminiscent of the early days of discussions over whether tobacco was harmful and could it cause cancer, as well as the concerns over asbestos and lead in products ... Solid proof is too late when you have malignant tumour."
The theory is that heat — generated by electromagnetic radiation when a mobile phone is in use — causes cell damage that results in brain tumours.
Increasing exposure to RF waves from base stations could also have an effect.
But other factors have also been cited in relation to brain tumours, such as consuming fried bacon and smoking. Cancer in other parts of the body can also spread to the brain.
Health risk or not, Singaporeans could find it difficult to live without a mobile phone, given that the nation has one of the highest rates of mobile penetration. All mobile phones used here are tagged with Specific Absorption Rate values — a measurement of the amount of RF energy absorbed by the body when using a mobile phone — and comply with the WHO's recommended exposure standard.
If you are still concerned,Dr Goh advises using an earpiece and to avoid keeping a handset near your body.
Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.
Fertility and Cell Phone Radiation
No one can deny that people are having more and more trouble having babies these days. Just look at the explosion in the number of fertility clinics across the United States and Western Europe. What's the cause; environment, diet, pollution? Well, recent research points to electromagnetic radiation as a key factor.
It's known that electromagnetic radiation, in high doses, can serious affect your body. After all, an x-ray can see right through you! So, were always told to avoid exposure to high levels of any kind of radiation. Yet, what about repeated exposure to low levels; what are the long term health risks associated with that? That's where the problem with cellphones comes into play.
Lots of people use them these days, and you can spend hours with one pressed up to her head or strapped to your waist, or even hooked to your ear all the time! As a result, you are getting a constant influx of radiation pumped into your body. You may think that such a minute amount of radiation is nothing, but the next time you're done with a long phone call, run your hand over the side of your head. More than likely, it's going to feel a bit warm.
That is due solely to the radiation emanating from your phone!
Think about that; your skin made warm just from that. And, if your skin is warm, what's going on beneath it? The radiation is heating your blood and bones, and the gray matter of your brain. None of that is good for you and your overall health.
So, what does this mean in terms of fertility? Doctors warn that pregnant women should not wear a cellphone unit at their waist as their developing fetus can be at risk for birth defects. Beyond that, the radiation can affect their ovaries and uterus, thus decreasing their chances of even conceiving. For men, the risks are similar. Keeping a cellphone clipping at the waist can adversely affect the testicles and a man's sperm count.
When you consider that undeveloped nations are not having trouble with fertility as evident by their burgeoning populations the fertility problem is something related to our modern high-tech world. Some people will point to the foods we eat, to the chemicals in our water, and so on.
Yet, not everyone is having trouble having babies. More and more data supports the theory that electromagnetic radiation is the chief culprit.
Check out the information available through various websites, and you'll come to learn about the steps you can take to reduce the health dangers associated with cellphone use.
Your Granite Countertops Could Be Killing You
Demand for granite countertops has increased tenfold over the past decade. As their popularity has grown, so have the types of granite available. And along with increased sales volume and variety, there have been more reports of "hot" or potentially hazardous countertops, particularly among the more exotic varieties from Brazil and Namibia.
Allegations that granite countertops may emit dangerous levels of radon and radiation have been raised periodically over the past decade.
Health physicists and radiation experts agree that most granite countertops emit radiation and radon at extremely low levels.
But with increasing regularity in recent months, the EPA has been receiving calls from radon inspectors and concerned homeowners about granite countertops with radiation measurements several times above background levels.
a.. New York Times July 24, 2008
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Personally I love the look and feel of natural granite countertops. Many people agree with me as they have become one of the most sought-after upgrades in residential housing over the last decade. And while most granite is perfectly harmless, the majority of the problems appear to
be from some of the newer, more exotic varieties of granite.
I have had some major home renovation done in the last year, and have also moved into a brand new office building, so I actually became aware of this issue when I hired some Bau-Biology consultants to make sure we had a healthy office and home.
They pointed out to me that I needed to purchase a Geiger counter to measure the actual granite slab I was going to purchase, before I installed it. So I went through many hundreds of slabs to find ones that were low in radiation, and whose colors I found appealing.
Are Your Granite Countertops Dangerously Radioactive?
I believe it's safe to say that not all granite emit dangerous levels of radiation, and you're more likely to have high radon levels in your home due to radon in your water, than due to your spiffy countertops.
Luminous watches and smoke detectors are other sources of radon emissions that could be greater than that of your average granite countertop.
However, you won't know unless you test them.
As described in this New York Times article, some countertops can measure at levels that are 100 times or more above the ambient radon levels.
Especially troublesome are some of the more exotic granite varieties. Higher radon levels have been detected particularly in red, pink and purple granites.
The purpose of bringing this to your attention is not necessarily to have you rip out your installed granite counters, unless they measure very high and you're near them for a large part of the day.
The major reason for sharing this information is to allow you to measure any new slabs of granite you plan on installing.
How To Use a Geiger Counter to Measure Radiation
The easiest way to measure your countertops for radiation is to use a handheld Geiger counter. The Geiger counter's sensor is a central metal wire anode surrounded by a thin metal tube filled with neon, argon and a halogen gas. It detects radiation by how much the gas inside the tube is
They range in price from $150-400 and can be found easily online. Even Amazon.com carries them.
Here's a simple step-by-step process on how to use your Geiger counter:
1.. Turn on your Geiger counter to apply an electrical charge to the anode wire. The counter will click or flash about 10 to 20 times per minute as it detects background radiation.
2.. Pass the sensor, called a Geiger-Mueller tube, over your granite countertop (or any other material you want to evaluate) with the thin mica window facing the material. Radiation from the material, if any, will pass through the window and ionize the gas inside the tube.
3.. Study the readout, whether a needled meter, flashing LED, or audible clicking. If this is higher than the level of the background radiation, then the material is radioactive.
4.. Count the number of clicks or flashes, or read the attached meter, to determine how radioactive your material is.
Geiger counters cannot accurately measure the presence of radon gas, specifically. To measure radon, you'll need a radon detector. However, using a Geiger counter to check for radioactive radiation is a much easier and convenient way to ensure that your granite slabs are safe.
What is Radon?
Radon is a cancer-causing natural radioactive gas that you can't see, smell or taste. The amount of radon in the air is measured in "picoCuries per liter of air," or pCi/L.
About 0.4 pCi/L of radon is normally found in the outside air, and the average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L.
According to the EPA, you should take action any time the radon level in your home (or office, for that matter) is at or above 4 pCi/L, which carries about the same risk for lung cancer as smoking half a pack of cigarettes per day.
This does not necessarily mean that 4pCi/L is "safe," however, just as "only" smoking half a pack a day cannot be considered "safe."
There really is NO safe level for radiation. Even the EPA admits that lower levels can still pose a health risk, and you may want to take precautions to further reduce the amount of radon in your indoor space, even if it's at or below 4 pCi/L.
Radon Causes Lung Cancer – How to Evaluate Your RiskRadon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking in America, and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, claiming about 20,000 lives annually, according to EPA statistics.
Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on:
a.. The level of radon in your home
b.. The amount of time you spend in your home
c.. Whether you are a smoker or have ever smoked
Logically, smokers are far worse off when it comes to radon raising their lung cancer risk as their lungs are already compromised.
Children and developing fetuses are also especially vulnerable to radiation, as it can cause other forms of cancer as well.
According to the EPA, if 1,000 smokers were exposed to the "action" radon level of 4 pCi/L over a lifetime, about 62 of them would get lung cancer from the radiation, compared to only about 7 out of 1,000 non-smokers.
How to Test For Radon
Testing your home for radon is also a simple process, if you want to check for radon specifically -- although you're likely better off just testing for radioactive radiation with a Geiger counter.
There are many low-cost do-it-yourself test kits available, averaging in price from $20 to $30. You can purchase them online at the EPA's Web site www.epa.gov/radon, from your regional indoor air environment office, or in your local hardware store.
You can also hire a professional to do it for you, which may be a better option if you're buying or selling a home. If you decide to go that route, contact your state radon office first to obtain a list of qualified testers.
Alternatively, you can contact a private radon proficiency program, or the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists, for lists of privately certified radon professionals in your local area.
For more information on how to ensure your home supports rather than harms your health, and how the principles of Bau-Biologie (building biology) can help, please see my Related Articles below.