Cell Phone Radiation & Cancer: Just How Much More Proof Do You Need?
Cell Phone’s emit a dangerous non-ionizing form of electromagnetic radiation; radiation which can be absorbed by the tissues and cells which come into close contact with the phone, e.g., the head and neck. Scientific studies in the past have produced conflicting results; however, more recent studies working with long term exposure, (ten years or more), have clearly established that a link between cell phone use and certain forms of cancer exists.
Drs. Lai and Singh (University of Washington) were the first to use the comet assay in rats to show DNA damage, double strand breaks, after being exposed to cell phone radiation. The comet assay is one of the most conclusive tests available to measure the fragmentation of DNA.
Their work coincides with the findings of Dr. Andrew Goldsworthy, MSc PhD, in The Biological Effects of Weak Electromagnetic Fields, from March 2012. Dr. Goldsworthy concludes that, “If similar DNA fragmentation were to occur in the whole organism, we would expect an increased risk of cancer, since essential genes that control cell division may be either damaged or lost.”
Current studies looking at the incidence of brain cancer are backing this up. Using the cell phone on a regular basis almost doubles the chance of adult brain cancers on the side of the head used for talking on the phone. Cancers are not just confined to the brain. Cancers of the parotid salivary gland and the thyroid gland, located in the neck, are on the rise too.
In 2009 on Capitol Hill, several well respected experts testified on the potential health effects for cell phone users (270 million), in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee.
- Dr. John Bucher, Associate Director of the National Institutes of Health, National toxicology program, testified, “As of now, with only 10-12 years exposure, and use increasing dramatically, there is a concern of increase in brain cancer, related to use. Children have a configuration of the skull which allows deeper penetration of cell phone radiation with a potentially greater risk.”
- Dr. Siegal Sadetzki, Cancer and radiation epidemiology director of the Chaim Sheba Medical Center, (Israel) conducted 10 years of research in this area and published findings in 2008 on the findings of salivary gland tumors with heavy usage. Dr. Sadetski saw consistent positive results and observed the tumors always appeared on the same side of the head where the phone was held.
- Dr. Devra Lee Davis, University of Pittsburgh, epidemiology professor, cited Dr. Leonard Hardell’s work in Sweden on heavy cell phone use before age 20. “As adults these subjects had 4-6 times more brain tumors by the time they reached their 30s. For younger people, the risk increases to five times more.” Dr. Davis goes on to testify, “If we tie in Dr. Lai and Dr. Singh’s work with the human studies of Dr. Sadetski and others that have looked at people who have ten years of exposure or more, we have strong evidence.”
- Dr. Davis also recommends holding a cell phone no closer than one inch to your body. Her suggestion comes straight out of the manual for the Blackberry and iPhone. “I am calling for warning labels. I am simply calling to codify what the industry is currently telling us about cell phones.”
A final consideration: Dr. Lai came to the conclusion that certain findings coincided with who was backing the study financially. Almost seventy percent of the studies sponsored outside the industry showed a connection between cell phone use and health complications while less than 30% of the studies sponsored by the cell phone industry reported similar findings.
What the telecommunication companies don’t want you to know
In 2010, Devra Davis, PhD, MPH, president of the Environmental Health Trust, and former White House adviser, wrote the book titled, “Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What The Industry Has Done To Hide It, and How To Protect Your Family.” Dr. Davis shares her concerns, “If the industry doesn’t make a positive move soon, we may have a global epidemic on our hands within the next two decades.
This global epidemic is not a scare tactic. There is study after study, over 500, on the ill effects of exposure to cell phone radiation.
Dr. Davis just wants the industry to be responsible. “We are asking the industry to give people the facts about known health risks from cell phone radiation exposure to children’s brains and ensure people know how to best use these devices.
In 2011 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), released the statement that cell phone radiation is a “possible human carcinogen.” Other “possible human carcinogens” include the exhaust from diesel engines and the banned (in this country) pesticide DDT.
Has this made a difference? Well, yes and no. Many other countries, including Canada, France, Turkey, and Israel have come out with safety guidelines, age appropriate advertising, and introduced an institute to conduct research on the subject, respectively.
In this country, a federal office has put out a public acknowledgment three times in the past almost 20 years in regards to the necessity of studying the health implications created by cell phones. Unfortunately, the funds for such research are neither there nor have the potential to be there anytime soon.
The CTIA and the Right-to -Know
Numerous local governments spread out across the country are sitting on drafts for cell phone Right-To-Know ordinances which would eventually become laws if passed.
Cell phone Right-to-Know laws are simple and succinct. It’s the consumers right to know about any risks associated with using a cell phone and how to use the phone safely before the phone is actually purchased.
So, what is going on? Here’s some insight. In the summer of 2010 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance giving residents of the community who purchased and used cell phones the right to know about the health risks and safety user guidelines associated with using the phone. The ordinance was signed into law by then mayor Gavin Newsom, the first of its kind.
The CTIA then sued San Francisco, both the city and the county, under the premise of violating cell phone company’s first amendment rights. Some amendments were made to the law; however, the CTIA was not satisfied and has taken the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. CTIA is waiting to see if the decision will stand or be appealed.
According to their website, “CTIA is the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry, Dedicated to Expanding the Wireless frontier. The association advocates on behalf of its members at all levels of government.” CTIA has represented its members, the wireless communications industry, since 1984.
The industry seems to be hiding behind two things:
- They contend they have never said cell phones were safe.
- The manual which accompanies the cell phone states in tiny wording that a cell phone should never be held next to the body in order to avoid exceeding the exposure limits set by the FCC.
This is akin to lying by omission and supplying the public with information the industry knows the consumer will never get. Clearly, telecommunication companies don’t want cell phone users to be fully informed or question the safety of cell phones.