Wireless Electrical and Electromagnetic Pollution News
18 May 2010
Heavy use of cell phones may increase tumour risk: study
Globe and Mail Update Published on Monday, May. 17, 2010
The most exhaustive investigation ever undertaken into brain cancer risk from cell phones suggests that heavy users may be at an elevated risk of developing the tumors, a finding that is likely to continue fueling health concerns over the popular electronic gadgets.
The study, dubbed Interphone, found that that people who reported chatting on the phones the equivalent of a half an hour a day over 10 years had an elevated risk of a rare and often deadly brain cancer known as glioma, the type that last year felled U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, although the researchers concluded their evidence is not strong enough to link the devices to the disease.
The frequent users had a 40 per cent higher risk of glioma, compared to people who never used the phones, as well as about twice the risk of developing tumors on the same side of their heads where they normally held their mobiles while talking, or where most of the energy emitted by their phones would be absorbed.
The results were based on a review of cell phone use among more than 5,100 people diagnosed with brain cancers in 13 countries, including Canada, Japan, Germany and Israel from 2000 to 2005, well before the recent explosion in mobile usage, a factor that worries researchers.
"I think these results are of concern because the study subjects were light users compared to today," commented Elisabeth Cardis, the study's lead author and a professor at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona.
While Dr. Cardis said the research on possible harm isn't conclusive, she said taking a precautionary approach of reducing exposure to cell phone radiation "might be a reasonable course of action until stronger conclusions can be drawn around the risks."
The peer reviewed research was coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the UN's respected cancer watchdog, and is being published Tuesday in the International Journal of Epidemiology. Dr. Cardis, a Canadian who headed IARC's radiation group during much of the period of the study, is one of the first prominent epidemiologists to suggest caution when it comes to cell phones.
But IARC concluded that the study didn't confirm a link between cell phones and brain cancer, although the finding of increased risk among heavy users and the rapid growth in the amount of time people spend on their phones since the research began indicates more investigation is warranted.
"An increased risk of brain cancer is not established from the data," said Christopher Wild, IARC's director, in a statement "However, observations at the highest level of cumulative call time and the changing patterns of mobile phone use since the period studied by Interphone, particularly in young people, mean that further investigation of mobile phone use and brain cancer risk is merited."
The study cost about 19.2 million Euros, with about a quarter of the funding from the mobile industry and much of the rest from government sources. Cell phone companies had no role in designing the research or in vetting its results.
Researchers have been investigating the cancer hazard from phones because using them amounts to placing a small radio transmitter next to the head, exposing the brain and ears to a small dose of microwave radiation.
A paradoxical result found in the research is that moderate or infrequent cell phone users had a reduced risk of about 20 per cent in developing brain cancer, compared to people who shun the devices.
Dr. Cardis said the unusual results – some cell phone use seems to protect against cancer while high use seems to be associated with cancer – might be due to the difficulty researchers had in recruiting controls. These are people without cancer who were used in the study as a comparison group to see how they differed in their cell phone usage from those with the tumors.
According to spot checks by the researchers, the people volunteering to be controls appear to have had higher cell phone use than the population at large, suggesting the results could be skewed towards underestimate the risks from the mobile devices.
Because the study began 10 years ago and cell phones have become much more popular since then, many of the people in the high use category wouldn't be considered particularly heavy mobile chatters by today's standards. Most people reported only about 2 and a half hours of phone use a month, or a lifetime total of 100 hours. The heaviest users were classified as those who had a lifetime tally of more than 1,640 hours on the phones.
The average Canadian has usage of 6.7 hours a month, and would end up in the high risk group after about 20 years. There are approximately 23 million wireless subscribers in the country, or 70 per cent of the population, according to figures provided by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, an industry, trade group.
Given that even IARC is calling for more research in the wake of the results, the study hasn't changed the highly polarized views on cell phone safety. The wireless industry maintains that there are no reasons for any concern. But independent analysts aren't convinced because there has also been a hint in some previous studies that long term users face elevated brain cancer risks, although other studies haven't found any harm.
"There is no way" this will end the controversy over cell phones, contends Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News, an independent newsletter that tracks research into the biological effects of radiation. "I don't think that anyone challenges that there is uncertainty here."
But that isn't the view in the mobile industry. With cell phones operating below radiation safety standards set by governments "there is no risk for human health issues," says Marc Choma, spokesman for the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.
Besides glioma, the researchers also tracked the incidence of meningioma, a slow-growing brain tumor that is often benign. Heavy users also had a 15 per cent elevate risk of contracting it, compared to people who don't use cell phones.
Based on the reasoning that other cancers in the head and neck might be caused by exposures to cell phones, the scientists also looked at the incidence of acoustic neurinoma, a cancer of the inner ear, and salivary gland tumours. The studies on them are to be released later.
Critics of cell phone safety have likened the devices to holding a small microwave oven up to the head, but government safety standards limit the amount of energy discharged to such low levels that people can't feel their heads being warmed slightly by the radiation.
Health Canada has played down safety worries and according to its Web posting on the issue says the radiation from cell phones "poses no confirmed health risks."
We have just posted our detailed coverage of the Interphone study:
Be sure to also read about Interphone's provocative analysis that did not make it into the published paper:
And for a roundup of everyone else's coverage:
(NaturalNews) A new report released by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement reveals that Americans' exposure to radiation has increased more than 600 percent over the last three decades. Most of that increase has come from patients' exposure to radiation through medical imaging scans such as CT scans and mammograms.
Most patients have no awareness of the dangers of ionizing radiation due to medical imaging scans. Virtually no patients -- and few doctors -- realize that one CT scan exposes the body to the equivalent of several hundred X-rays
for example. Most women undergoing mammograms have no idea that the radiation emitted by mammography machines actually causes cancer by exposing heart and breast tissue to dangerous ionizing radiation that directly causes DNA damage.
Even low doses of radiation can add up to significant increases in lifelong cancer risk. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2007) found that survivors of the 1945 atomic bombs unleashed on Japan during World War II still faced significant increases in lifetime cancer risk. And the levels of radiation to which these particular study subjects were exposed is equivalent to receiving only two or three CT scans, explains an ABC News story
Yes, it's true: A couple of CT scans can expose your body to as much radiation as standing a few miles from an atomic bomb explosion. This is a simple scientific fact.
Exposure to CT scans and mammograms today can lead to cancer much later in life.
As ABC News reports, Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, says, "Radiation exposure from these scans is not inconsequential and can lead to later cancers."
Thanks to the widespread use of medical imaging scans, hospitals are also becoming a major source of nuclear waste material. See the NaturalNews report on that topic here:
This material can be seized by terrorists and used to make dirty bombs. Thus, hospitals are now a major source for potential tools for terrorists.
The bottom-line question in all this is simple: Are medical imaging devices causing more harm than good? And do mammograms actually create future cancer patients by causing cancer in the breast? In my view, the answers to both these questions are a resounding YES. Medical imaging does more than just detect cancer, it also causes cancer! And that's in the financial interests of the drug companies and cancer clinics that profit from treating cancer.
See the cartoon at -
But the long-term effects of prolonged cellphone use require further study—and will spark fresh controversy
By James Geary Posted 05.17.2010
When I was reporting my March 2010 PopSci feature story on the possible health effects of cell phone radiation, I was particularly interested in learning about the Interphone project, a collection of 13 different national studies coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization.
Interphone is the largest completed analysis to date of brain tumor (glioma and meningioma) risk in relation to mobile phone use. When I was writing my piece, none of the scientists I interviewed could or would say much about the study, since it had yet to be published. So not much about Interphone ended up in my story. But when I asked one source familiar with the study's progress what we would learn once the results appeared, this person said: "We'll learn how to do better studies."
Well, the Interphone study has finally appeared and, unfortunately, my source was right.
The paper, published this week in the International Journal of Epidemiology, concludes: "Overall, no increase in risk of either glioma or meningioma was observed in association with use of mobile phones. There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma, and much less so meningioma, at the highest exposure levels … However, biases and errors limit the strength of the conclusions we can draw from these analyses and prevent a causal interpretation."
This result is in line with the majority of other published studies, which also observed no increased risk of brain tumors in association with cell phone radiation and cite biases and errors in those studies that do show a correlation. But the publication of the Interphone results does not address the two main concerns of those who believe cell phone radiation may have an impact on human health: namely, that the effect of long-term exposure, especially on children, is still unknown and that brain tumor rates alone are not the proper metric by which to measure risk.
Methodological failings—especially recall bias; i.e. people incorrectly remembering past cell phone use—have long plagued research on this topic. The Interphone authors once again cite bias as preventing any firm conclusions about the effects of long-term use: "The possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones on risk of brain tumors require further investigation," the paper states, "given increasing mobile phone use, its extension to children and its penetration world-wide." To that end, the IARC will carry out a comprehensive review of all published epidemiological and experimental evidence and the European Union will fund MobiKids to investigate the risk of brain tumors in childhood and adolescence.
Studies like Interphone and MobiKids take a long time to conduct and, of course, by the time they are finished the technology has already moved on, which raises doubts about the usefulness of the results. Since Interphone was launched, for example, cell phone usage has increased dramatically but radiation levels from cell phones have decreased.
Plus, the scientists who believe there could be a risk from cell phone radiation believe that risk could involve the immune system as a whole rather than a direct cause-and-effect relationship between radiation and brain tumors. So many of these scientists suspect studies like Interphone don't give the full picture.
One thing is clear, though: After Interphone, opinion will be just as polarized and passions will run just as high as before Interphone.
Browse through some of the comments posted to my original story for a taste of the debate. Many people ridiculed the very idea of risk from cell phone radiation, and accused Per Segerbäck, a Swedish former telecoms engineer who suffers from electro-hypersensitivity (EHS) and whom I profiled in the piece, of inventing his condition. Several EHS sufferers wrote back, explaining their condition and citing studies that suggest it's real.
Segerbäck's daughter even responded with a comment of her own: "Maybe you never heard anyone say anything bad about your dad, but … reading you comments made me cry … I'm sorry if you don't understand the illness, but I promise you that a lot of people has it. But please do not think that he is just making this up. That breaks my heart."
I do not believe Segerbäck invented his condition, but I am not able to cite a study that provides a scientific explanation for it either. There is evidence to suggest possible mechanisms for a health effect from cell phone radiation; these are outlined in my story. None of the scientists who did this research and whom I interviewed for my story said their work 'proved' that cell phones have an impact on human health. They all did say, however, that the evidence merited further research—which is exactly what the IARC is saying.
Research into the potential health effects, if any, of cell phone radiation is so hotly contested in part because the technology is relatively young, but also because the research itself is so difficult to carry out.
I don't know if cell phone radiation has an effect on human health, but I do know it's not good science to dismiss the unproven as impossible. In fact, we could do a lot worse than to take Segerbäck's own advice: "Be careful, weigh the evidence, and make your own decision."
Interphone study press release
Industry study shows brain tumour link to heavy mobile phone usage
- UPDATED: Adam Cresswell
- From: The Australian
- May 17, 2010 12:13PM
A study has found excessive users of mobile phones may face an increased risk of developing brain...
A LONG-awaited international study of the health risks of mobile phones has linked extended mobile phone use to an increased risk of developing brain tumours.
The 10-year Interphone study, the world's biggest study of the health effects of mobile phones, found while there was no increased risk of cancer overall, those in the top 10 per cent of phone use are up to 40 per cent more likely to develop glioma, a common type of brain cancer.
Just 30 minutes of mobile talk time daily was enough to put participants into the top 10 per cent category in the study, carried out in 13 countries, including Australia, and involving more than 5000 brain cancer patients worldwide.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which conducted the study and has repeatedly delayed its publication, summarised the findings by saying there were "suggestions of an increased risk of glioma, and much less so meningioma, in the highest decile (10 per cent) of cumulative call time, in subjects who reported phone use on the same side of the head as their tumour".
It added "biases and errors limit the strength of the conclusions that can be drawn . . . and prevent a causal interpretation".
But the finding - reported by British newspapers yesterday ahead of its official scheduled release this week - has nevertheless ignited controversy among cancer experts, neurologists and other scientists.
Australian neurosurgeons Charlie Teo and Vini Khurana said last night the findings were a concern. "Despite the study's methodological limitations that biased it towards finding nothing, the heaviest users were found to be at significantly higher risk of glioma, which is consistent with our message," Drs Teo and Khurana told The Australian.
"This (finding) does concern us, but it's also an impetus to do two things: the mobile phone industry has to supply the actual hours logged, and we need to track brain tumour incidence in Australia."
Other experts sought to reassure the public over the findings. IARC director Christopher Wild said an increased risk of brain cancer was "not established from the data from Interphone".
"However, observations at the highest level of cumulative call time and the changing patterns of mobile phone use since the period studied by Interphone, particularly in young people, mean that further investigation of mobile phone use and brain cancer risk is merited," Dr Wild said.
Although modern mobile phones have greatly reduced emissions the authors said phone use now was "much more prevalent and it is not unusual for young people to use mobile phones for an hour or more a day".
Industry group the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association also emphasised the study found no increased risk overall, and its conclusion was "in line with the weight of scientific opinion, which has found no substantiated scientific evidence of any adverse health effects".
The study's authors said there was "reasonable doubt" about the credibility of some patients' estimates of their phone use, which in 38 cases amounted to over five hours per day, and 12 hours or more per day in 10 cases. People with cancer were much more likely to report these very high usage rates than other study participants without cancer who were included as controls.
Comments on Interphone
Comments on Interphone
Today's release of the final results of the ten-year long World Health Organization INTERPHONE Study confirms previous reports showing what many experts have warned ? that regular use of a cell phone by adults can significantly increase the risk of glioma by 40% with 1640 hours or more of use (this is about one-half hour per day over ten years). Tumors were more likely to occur on the side of the head most used for calling. David Carpenter MD MPH, BioInitiative Report co-editor and Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at University at Albany, Rensselaer, NY says that While this study is not perfect, the risks documented in it must be taken seriously as a warning to limit cell phone use, to restrict the use of cell phones, especially by children, and to call on manufacturers for redesign of cell phones and PDAs. It should also serve as a warning to governments that the deployment of new wireless technologies may bring risks to the public that are widespread, involuntary and increase long-term health care costs.
Michael Kundi, head of the Institute of Environmental Health, Medical University of Vienna says of the study
Authors emphasize that no increased risk was detected overall. But this is not unexpected. No exposures to carcinogens that cause solid tumors like brain cancer or lung cancers, for example from tobacco and asbestos have ever been shown to significantly increase cancer risk in people with such short duration of exposure. The latency period for brain cancer is 15-30 years.
The INTERPHONE findings lend support to previous studies from Sweden?s Orebro University Hospital, University of Utah and UC Berkeley where meta-analyses have all reported increased risk of glioma when combining results of brain tumor studies.
Lennart Hardell, Orebro University, Sweden concludes The final INTERPHONE results support findings of several research groups, including our own, that continuing use of a mobile phone increases risk of brain cancer. We would not expect to see substantially increased brain tumor risk for most cancer-causing agents except in the longer term (10 year and longer) as is the case here in the population of regular cell phone users.
The patients included in this study were 30-59 years old, excluding younger and older users. Use of cordless phones was neglected in the analysis. Radiofrequency radiation from some cordless phones can be as high as mobile phones in some countries, so excluding such use would underestimate the risk.
With more than four billion cell phone users around the world, the potential for a brain cancer epidemic leads experts to call for changes in cell phone design, warnings, and a ban on use by children. Children are more at risk than adults from the effects of most toxic exposures in life, including both chemicals and radiofrequency radiation from cell phones. Experts are worried about the effects of radiofrequency radiation on the developing brain and nervous system of children.
Public health warnings were raised in the BioInitiative Report on possible risks from cell phones and other exposures to electromagnetic fields (EMF) in 2007. It advised against the continuing deployment of sources of EMF and radiofrequency radiation from wireless technologies in advance of health studies, and argued for new biologically-based public safety limits to deal with emerging risks from new technologies. Results of the INTERPHONE study provide strong confirmation of the importance of these warnings.
Note - The Interphone Study and the various ways that it has been reported, have muddied the waters of EMF safety once again. If anyone has doubts about the danger of cell phones, they should look at the huge number of studies which detail the health effects of microwave radiation. Those studies have been ongoing for over sixty five years and the adverse health effects are well established.
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