Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More young people at risk of getting brain cancer / Should your kid have a cell phone?

Health @ AsiaOne


More young people at risk of getting brain cancer

The cells of younger people are more vulnerable to toxins - and it could be due to increased usage of handphones. -myp

Tue, Aug 19, 2008
my paper


OUT of 13 brain-cancer patients seen by Dr Keith Goh in the last four months, seven were below 45.

The trend, according to the consultant neurosurgeon, is increasing at an alarming rate. He is also seeing younger Singaporeans with brain tumours, including a six-month-old child.

Better known for his part in the separation of Nepalese conjoined twins Ganga and Jamuna Shrestha, Dr Goh told my paper: "The trend is unmistakable. It was not like this 10 years ago."

In the past, the median age for patients diagnosed with brain cancer was between 50 and 60 years old. However, signs are showing that it has shifted to the early 40s.

Dr Goh, who is also a paediatric neurosurgeon, added: "It seems that there is something in the environment that may be causing cell transformation, which leads to the development of cancer. The cells of younger people are more vulnerable to toxins and they can transform to become cancerous."

One of the likely reasons mentioned by Dr Goh, 47, is the increased cellphone usage here.

According to a study by the Swedish National Institute for Working Life, heavy cellphone users face an increased risk, especially on the side of the head where the phone is held, Dr Goh added.

Noting that Singapore has at least six million mobile phone subscribers, one of the highest in the world, Dr Goh said: "It has to be the electromagnetic radiation or the thermal heat that's causing the tumour."

Speaking to reporters last week, he also introduced a new drug, Nimotuzumab. It is undergoing clinical trials for head and neck cancer. Compared to conventional treatment - surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy - which provides patients with a 40 per cent survival rate, the new treatment offers a 75 per cent chance. Dr Goh is the first doctor here to administer the new drug.


Should your kid have a cell phone?

Posted by jeyer August 11, 2008 12:36PM

Here's a good article summarizing the questions parents should ask themselves before getting a cell phone for their child: What to know before buying your kid a cell phone

For me, the biggest factor is the health concern. I wouldn't want to get Belle a cell phone unless I could be sure that she would use a headset every time.

Health risks

In July, the University of Pittsburgh made headlines with a warning to faculty and staff: Limit your cell-phone use because of possible cancer risks. The message from the Cancer Institute director recommended that children use cell phones only for emergencies because their brains are still developing. See how electromagnetic waves affect a child's brain »

The university center's director for environmental oncology, Dr. Devra Davis, repeated the warning on CNN the next night.

Since cell phones have only been in widespread use for 10 years or so, the long-term effects of their radiation waves on the brain has yet to be determined, she said.

"Young children particularly need to be careful," she said. "We do not have enough information nor do we have enough time to be sure that cell phones are safe, and there's reason for concern that they may be harmful."

Davis's statement sums up the "jury's still out" aspect of this issue. Since cell phones have only been in widespread use for 10 years or so, the long-term effects of their radiation waves on the brain has yet to be determined.

COMMENTS (3)Post a comment
Posted by billcouzens on 08/12/08 at 11:17PM

While a layman myself, It makes sense to me as a parent that a lack of data does not translate to safe, especially in the case of children.

This what really matters the choices we as parents make for our children to reduce the unnecessary and preventable exposures that could have harmful outcomes to human health.

How many times in the last 50 years have we assumed products/practices to be safe for our children because of lack of information only to say to ourselves ..maybe we should have done something else?

I know as child I used to play with mercury, I would get radiation for acne, and the lawn would get sprayed while I was playing in the sandbox. It all seemed fine then- but we know today it is not. We know that as opposed to heredity scientist tell us most cancers comes from outside of our bodies.

Today we have higher incidences of non smoking related cancers than ever before.

Every school day we have 46 children diagnosed with cancer.

Approximately 1.4 million people will be diagnosed with some from of cancer in the United States this year.

Those numbers for a "non-scientist" like me are too much, and if someone like a Ronald Herberman,MD Director of University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute who is an expert- says we don't know what cell phones do to human health-specifically children - lets use precautions.

I say why not?

Since Richard Nixon first declared the war on cancer in 1971 Americans have poured roughly $200 billion, in inflation-adjusted dollars, into cancer research and cancer drug development between 1971 and 2004.

Clearly we can be doing things differently.

Bill Couzens, Founder Lesscancer.org