BY HERB DENENBERG, THE BULLETIN
A new report, endorsed by a prestigious group of international scientists, finds that there is a risk of brain tumors from cell phone use, that industry studies underestimate this risk, and that children have much greater risks than adults. The report, therefore, sends a message to four billion users worldwide and to the $4 billion cell phone industry that they may be facing the same kind of bad news that first burst on the scene for the tobacco industry.
This cancer threat of cell phone use has been recognized by some scientists and critics for decades, but has, essentially, been covered up by the cell phone industry and by much of the mainstream media. I asked the primary author of the new report, Lloyd Morgan, a member of the Bioelectromagnetics Society, whether he would describe what's been going on for so many years as a cover-up. Mr. Morgan told me he would describe it as a spin that amounts to a cover-up.
Cell phones emit electromagnetic radiation - more specifically, radio frequency electromagnetic radiation, which may cause damage to the DNA and may lead to cancer or other medical problems. The study focused on cell phones, but electromagnetic radiation is also produced by many other sources including cordless (or portable) phones, walkie-talkies, ham radio transmitters, and baby monitors. And, there's also the laptop computer, which, according to Mr. Slesin, should not be kept on your lap. In fact, four years ago, he wrote an article entitled "Keep That Laptop off Your Lap." He adds any radio frequency (RF) transmitter away from your body.
The report, entitled "Cell phones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern; Science, Spin and the Truth Behind Interphone," was produced by a group called the International EMF (Electromagnetic Field) Collaborative. The endorsements of the report to date are listed in the report and will be updated on five web sites including that of the Radiation Research Trust, www.radiationresearch.org.
The primary author of the report, Mr. Morgan, put the issue into perspective: "Exposure to cell phone radiation is the largest human health experiment ever undertaken, without informed consent, and has some 4 billion participants enrolled. Science has shown increased risk of brain tumors caused by the use of cell phones, as well as increased risk of eye cancer, salivary gland tumors, testicular cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and leukemia. The public must be informed."
Another noteworthy statement appears in the report from Chris Woolams, editor of Integrated Cancer and Oncology News: "In a world where a drug cannot be launched without proof that it is safe, where the use of herbs and natural compounds available to all since early Egyptian times are now questioned, their safety subjected to the deepest scrutiny…the idea that we can use mobile telephony, including masts, and introduce WiFi and mobile phones without restrictions around our 5 year olds is double-standards gone mad. I speak, not just as an editor and scientist that has looked in depth at all the research, but as a father that lost his beloved daughter to a brain tumor."
How does the cell phone industry respond to this report? I thought it would have a detailed rebuttal of the report on "Cell phones and Brain Tumors." Instead, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), which represents 275 member companies, sent me an e-mail which contained only general statements on cell phone safety from various government agencies and international organizations. I called CTIA back and left a message that I would like to discuss the specifics of the report and the rebuttal, if any. I have not heard from CTIA as of this writing.
I have been following the issue of cell phone safety for about 20 years with the help of Louis Slesin, the editor of Microwave News, which has been publishing since 1981. It now appears on the web atwww.microwavenews.org. I always found Slesin to be a reliable source and he is certainly one of the world's leading authorities on the subject. He has devoted his life to the study of cell phones and has to be considered one of the foremost heroes in the battle for product safety. He maintains his web site as a public service and relies on voluntary donations to support that work.
He convinced me that we should not discount the possibility that cell phones pose a significant risk and a high priority should be given to efforts to eliminate, control, and minimize the risk. In about 20 years of covering the story, I also got the impression that the industry was not forthcoming about the safety issues and their spokesmen and pronouncements always left me with an uneasy feeling that they were not telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. To this day, I am struck by the responsibility of the critics of cell phone safety and by the irresponsibility of the cell phone industry and the regulatory agencies that are supposed to protect us, such as the FDA.
Mr. Slesin has a perfect summary of the cell phone controversy. He told me we couldn't be certain that cell phones pose a brain tumor risk, but there is enough evidence that we should take immediate action. He says no one is trying to take away anyone's cell phone, but it would be easy and virtually cost-free to take precautions. Slesin says the special problem with cell phones is that they are held against the brain. This is magnified by heavy use of cell phones, sometimes hours at a time. And, the risk is greatest for children, who are more vulnerable to damage by cell phones. Slesin recommends they not even be used by children under perhaps 15 years of age. And, this problem is being compounded by the practice of many phone users to drop landline phones, that is, wired phones and rely exclusively on cell phones.
This report being reviewed provides more evidence that the industry is simply not leveling with the public and that many of the industry-financed studies reach suspect results. As to the industry's not leveling with the public, consider the Interphone study that it is sponsoring. It was promised to be completed four years ago, but is still not done. The European Parliament found the delay was "deplorable." The design of the study is fundamentally flawed, as well-documented by "Cell Phones and Brain Tumor." For example, users of cordless phones only were treated as unexposed. But, two independent studies found users of cordless phones had an increased risk of brain tumors. So, excluding such users underestimates the risk of brain tumors. This flaw suggests either ignorance or dishonesty on the part of the researchers running the Interphone Study. Then, there's the suspicious finding from some parts of the Interphone Study which concluded the use of a cell phone for less than ten years lowers your risk of brain tumors. This suggests the bias was so strong it eliminated enough tumor risk to show decreased incidence. The Interphone studies did find more brain tumor risk after more than ten years of cell phone use. The report notes that the risk was so great it could not be camouflaged even by the bias of the study.
The report lists eight simple steps to substantially reduce your or your children's exposure to cell phone radiation. They include:
• "When on a call, use a wired headset - not a wireless headset such as Bluetooth - or use in speaker-phone mode, or send text messages."
• "Keep the cell phone away from your body - particularly pant/trouser or shirt pockets - or use a belt holster designed to shield the body from cell phone radiation, when not in use (stand-by mode)."
• "Avoid use in a moving car, train, bus, or in rural areas at some distance from a cell tower (AKA mast or base station) as any of these uses will increase the power of the cell phone's radiation."
• "Use the cell phone like an answering machine. Keep it off until you want to see who has called. Then, return calls, if necessary, using a wired headset or a corded land-line phone, whenever possible."
• "Avoid use of cell phones inside of buildings, particularly with steel structures."
• "Do not allow your children to sleep with a cell phone beneath their pillow or at the bedside."
• "Do not allow your children under 18 to use a cell phone except in emergencies."
I checked daily newspapers the day after the report came out. I could not find one, according to a Google search, that even mentioned this report and not one that put it on the front-page - other than The Bulletin.
Herb Denenberg has served as the Loman Professor of Insurance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, and a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commissioner. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and co-authored major legislation including the Social Protection Act of Puerto Rico and much of the insurance code of Nevada and Wisconsin.
Cell Phones and Health: Is There a Brain Cancer Connection?
Experts Convene in Washington D.C. Sept 13-15
Washington, D.C. (August 31, 2009) -- Are cell phones safe? Mounting concerns about the cancer risks of cell phone radiation will bring experts to Washington for an international conference on September 13-15.
The latest scientific evidence and the implications for public policy will be presented by many respected experts in the field, such as Dr. Ron Herbermann, Director Emeritus for of the Cancer Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh; Dr. Siegal Sadetzki of Tel Aviv Medical University, who is Israel's key researcher on cancer and cell phones; Dr. Margaret Offermann, national research deputy at the American Cancer Society; and Dr. Frank Barnes, a professor of electrical engineering who chaired a National Academy of Sciences study group that resulted in a 2008 report on therisks of low-level radiation emitted by personal wireless devices.
Along with cancer experts from the U.S. and abroad, health policy experts from the U.S. government as well as key Members of Congress and their staff are expected to attend. Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) is expected to chair a Congressional hearing on cell phones on Monday, September 14 on Capitol Hill, which is independent of the meeting.
Cancer researcher Dr. Devra L. Davis, Professor of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh and a primary organizer of the conference, explains: "Deeply troubling findings have been reported by researchers from countries outside the U.S. where cell phones have been widely used for longer periods of time. These findings show a doubling of the risk of brain cancer." Dr. Davis points out that," Manygovernments, including France, Finland, China and Russia, advise that children simply not use cell phones."
Dr. Dariusz Leszczynski of the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, also a primary organizer of the conference, notes that "People want to believe that cell phones are safe, but at this point we cannot make that judgment. Some of the existing scientific evidence suggests that cell phones might harm human health. Given the current scientific uncertainty, we have to develop precautionary measures to reduce potential cell phone risks, while the new research is planned and carried out."
The goal of the conference is to propose a U.S. research agenda. Representatives of the cell phone industry were invited to the conference and asked to present research that they claim validates cell phone safety. All declined to attend.
The public is invited to attend this groundbreaking conference and can view the agenda and pre-register on the Environmental Health Trust website, www.environmentalhealth.org.The conference fee of $100 covers the two and one-half day event, including two lunches, two receptions, refreshments and handout materials.
Sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, National Research Center for Women & Families, The International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety, The Flow Fund Circle, and The Environmental Health Trust, the conference will be held at the historic Credit Union House, 4th and Maryland Ave. NE, near the U.S. Capitol.
I spend several hours each day on my computer and I must admit I often feel very "weird".
When I explained my symptoms other than family members, which I dismissed as neurotic and mood when I get my bio Guard hanging on the neck to protect from electromagnetic fields.
If I use my cell phone to the left side of my face burning, my tongue and lips Tingle, I feel a tightness in the chest, as if I can not breathe well and gives me a strange pain in my left temple. I also feel sick and disoriented.
I get the same effect if I use my computer for any length of time, especially if I'm in the room where we installed Wi-Fi frame. For those unfamiliar with Wi-Fi stands for Wireless Fidelity and is a means by which people with laptops can move and still be able to access the Internet.
We used to use a cable broadband, but because there are three people who sometimes want to be on a team at the same time, we have found wireless.
But last night on TV there was a Wi-Fi program. that made me sit up and take notice, because we have some others who have experienced the same problems.
It seems likely that I suffer from electro sensitivity. Of course, I suspected for a long time, so I wear protective bio, but I've never done a wireless link established earlier. I always thought it was the computer.
In Sweden, the problem is recognized as an official disability and affects approximately 3% of the population. If a similar figure exists in the UK, I have about 2 million other women. It is therefore strange that the government now insists there are none.
I think not.
Of course, my skepticism might be because I have been personally affected by two procedures that the government also insists that they are "safe". I've written books on these two issues so I can say no - at least not now.
Both mercury from dental amalgams and maternal mortality are controversial issues and, despite the fact that affect millions of people around the world, the government insists that all evidence is "anecdotal".
Who am I to argue?
However, the government based on international guidelines in preparing their statements and the World Health Organization (WHO), which are a major public health organizations around the world have said that, provided that such Wi-FI and the radiation emitted by mobile phone masts, there is "no adverse health effects from exposure to low level long term."
After all, how do they know? I'm certainly no expert, but WiFi and mobile phones is relatively new, so do not think anyone has lived, from the cradle to the grave to be exposed to substances that pose the question - What is the duration of the long exposure long term?
Again the experiments in Sweden have been conducted using the lower levels of radiation emitted by wi-fi and the result was the chromosomal damage, a decrease in short-term memory, electro hypersensitivity and increased cancer.
I met in the program that government guidelines are somewhat influenced by the industry and are based on the effect of "heat" instead of "biological effects" of these radio waves.
This means that in fact their bodies are heated before they can be considered dangerous enough to require restrictions on its use.
In most cities you can find Wi-Fi, where you can use your computer. Most people have no idea when they walk along they are exposed to radiation.
Even when I turn on my home computer, I said I'm in the range of different wireless connections than mine so clearly that I am not sure on the inside either. In fact when I was still connected to broadband internet through my neighbor came round with his laptop and was able to connect via Wi-Fi next door!
At the time I thought it was fantastic. None!
In schools also, it is increasingly common to install wireless networks, and currently about 70% of secondary and 50% of primary schools.
Now, parents express concern about the potential long-term health of their children. After all their skulls are thinner and still forming and until there is conclusive evidence of the contrary, "there are no known health effects" is not very reassuring statement.
Protests are held regularly in the establishment of mobile phone masts near schools, but most people do not WI-FI is equally dangerous. Apparently, the United Kingdom, where this program was produced (2007) had 3,000 points Wi-Fi and 50,000 mobile towers for mobile telephony.
On the agenda of a radiation monitor is placed near a laptop in a classroom in almost exact position on the head of a student. The result was that the student was exposed to 3 to 4 times more radiation than not stood in the main beam of a mobile phone mast.
People have the option of using a mobile phone, but wireless networks in classrooms to delete this personal decision. The programmers did not say what level of exposure would not be any time but especially during downloads. However, as most people use computers for Internet access, which could very likely that a considerable amount of time.
Despite all this evidence "anecdotal," the government still insist on WI-FI is safe. Until the adverse health effects have been created in a laboratory and science can not prove that there is a risk that is likely to remain in place.
I think not. Do you?