Refuted: What to do with the epidemiology, cell phones and brain cancer?

January 20th, 2012
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Recently came across an especially irritating editorial in the Washington Times and decided I really could not let the contentions stand.

Here it is, by Dariusz Leszczynski:

Helsinki/Finland, January 11, 2012-Epidemiological studies are given the most weight in evaluation of human health effects. Therefore, when researchers started their effort to find out whether cell phone radiation causes brain cancer, epidemiology was given the most of attention – and the most funding.

Well… yes, since Epidemology is the study of health events, disease patterns, health statistics and disease rates and their relation to factors like environment, lifestyle and other causes, it would seem to be the field of study that would apply to such a question.

It’s as straight forward as determining that geology is the appropriate field of science to look to when trying to determine the characteristics of a rock.

However, and please let me play “devils advocate”,

Only if I can play with science advocate.

is the epidemiology overrated?

No.

There, are we done?

Will epidemiology ever give us reliable answers concerning cell phone radiation and brain cancer?

Yes, and they have. Or is it simply that you don’t like the answer and want it to be something else, therefore you consider it flawed?

In 2010 and in 2011, two of the largest epidemiological studies on brain cancer were published. It appears that the time and money were used generously,

There’s a lot of interest in the topic, so a lot went into it. I’m not certain which studies you mean, but there have been some enormous ones recently.

but the studies failed to provide reliable answers concerning cell phones radiation and brain cancer. Flaws in the design of both studies prevented delivering conclusive answers.

Really? Well, if you say so. But thankfully, we don’t have to rely on any two studies. Two studies don’t mean much in the world of epidemiology anyway. To actually get a conclusive answer, you need to have confirming data coming from many studies. In this case we’re lucky enough to have literally thousands. So, you could actually discard two of them if you so choose and it won’t change the balance of the evidence much, because there’s such a huge amount from other sources.

It was 1999 when the largest case-control epidemiological study, INTERPHONE, was planned. At that time, optimists hoped that by the end of this project in 2004 we would know whether cell phone radiation causes brain cancer.

Actually, I think we had a pretty good idea even back in 1999, so it doesn’t seem very optimistic to think we would by 2004. That would be like me predicting that in the year 2017 we’ll know that the earth revolves around the sun. Unless there’s some kind of complete collapse of civilization that leaves behind only a handful of completely uneducated people, I am pretty sure we will know that in 2017, since we do already know it now.

I think I see where this is going though. The Interphone study was supposed to be one of the largest studies of this type and would dispel the doubt forever. It pretty much did.

After several delays, INTERPHONE published the results of the glioma brain cancer study in 2010.

The results were confusing, to say the least. Use of the cell phone for less than 10 years seemed to have a “protective” effect, whereas the use of the cell phone for more than 10 years showed a small increase in glioma occurrence.

Well I agree on one thing: The study abstract didn’t do a very good job of putting this all in context. It might simply be that research scientists are very apprehensive about using absolutes and tend to talk in degree of confidence. The tiny increase in giloma, but only in certain subsets was almost certainly statistical noise. It was miniscule. The “protective” effect can be attributed to a combination of statistical noise and possibly some slight confounding factors.

The balance of the data provides pretty good confirmation of no overall risk increase. Again, this should have been made more clear. The problem largely stems from having non scientifically literate persons get involved in the reporting. Reports and public officials have a tendency to focus on very narrow portions of a study like this and take them out of context. They will generally then demand to know whether the researchers can be 100% confident that this is not in fact a risk effect. The answer to that question is always no, statistical analysis never regards anything as being 100% certain. Then the study gets reported as if it raised doubts, when it actually does not.

Several problems with the design of INTERPHONE were debated. By design, the INTERPHONE study was unable to detect brain cancer induced by cell phone radiation because of its long (over 10 years) latency period.

Okay, that might be the case, but plenty of other studies did look at longer latency periods. A few went so far as to track down some of the early adopters of cell phones who started using them frequently in the early 1980′s and they also found no increase in brain cancer.

That said, even if the AVERAGE latency period were something like twenty or thirty years, it’s hard for me to imagine that there could be a bell curve so narrow as to have zero detectable risk increase after a much shorter period of time.

At the time of execution of INTERPHONE (2000-2004), cell phones were in common use for only a few years. There would be not enough time for the development and diagnosis of brain cancer if it was caused by cell phone radiation.

It does not matter how common they were by the early 2000′s. The fact of the matter is that they have existed since the late 1970′s and they have been used by many people since then. Sure, the actual proportion of the population that began using cell phones a lot in the early 1980′s is small, but it’s still more than large enough to produce good study results.

It’s not even really a cell phone issue. Wireless phones are just UHF/Microwave transmitters and those have been around for ages. There are studies that have been done on others exposed much longer. Police officers started using radar guns in the late 1950′s to measure the speed of motorists and some cops spent thirty years working highway patrol with a radar gun in their car. Others spent their careers as microwave technicians for AT&T or television networks. Military personnel worked on the deck of ships with radar antennas energized nearby.

Studies have been done on these individuals. Many of them, in fact. The results are consistent and compelling: The only health effects ever detected are acute thermal injuries and no chronic effect of exposure to RF fields has ever been documented.

However, there was an even more important design flaw. The information about the extent of exposures to cell phone radiation was based on individual recollection of the subjects in the study. The study subjects were asked about their history of using cell phone, including how long and how many phone calls they made in the past.

Perhaps in this study, but not in all. While it may introduce a potential source of error, I’m hard pressed to see how this could possibly skew the studies that badly. Even if you rely on spotty recollection, the fact that people who reported being heavy phone users show no greater cancer risks than those who never owned a cell phone at all would seem to be pretty hard to mess up.

By the way: Studies on cigarette smoking and cancer have largely been based on the subject’s recollection of how many packs they usually smoked a day. Despite this, they had no problem picking up on the fact that tobacco causes lung cancer.

It is a very unreliable method. Who of us remembers how many and how long calls made a few days ago? The study subjects were asked to recall cell phone use up to ten years before the study.

Okay, lets see if I can do this…

Got my first cell phone in the summer of 2001. Before that I had used cell phones a bit, but only occasionally when on that belonged to someone else. I worked for a company that sold cell phones so I had a good plan with a discount. Consequently, I used it a good few minutes a day or more. I would say my use has generally been on the increase since then, although not always. I’ve generally made or received three or four calls per day, usually each one only being a few minutes. Occasionally I have longer calls. In 2004 and 2005 I had a job that had me on the road a lot and my usage went up to about a dozen calls a day, but mostly short. As it stands now I use about 180 minutes of talk time in a month, but occasionally one or two long calls can push that way up. That’s how it’s been for the past few years.

Good enough?

Therefore, by design, INTERPHONE compared reliable information concerning diagnosed cancers with entirely unreliable information about exposures. Such kind of comparison can not produce reliable result, as was seen in the confusing results of the study published by INTERPHONE in 2010.

Again, you’re presuming that this error is so great that it would make someone who has never owned a cell phone indistinguishable in risk from someone who says they’ve been a heavy cell phone user for the past ten years. That just does not make sense. Even if recollection skewed the data, it shouldn’t so enough to cause that kind of discrepancy.

In 2011, the Danish Cohort published another largest study, evaluated in this column in December 2011.

Similarly to INTERPHONE, the Danish Cohort compared reliable information on diagnosed brain cancers with the absolutely unreliable information about exposures based not on the use of cell phone but on the length of subscription with the network operator.

No. That’s actually perfectly reasonable. It stands to reason that a person who has a cell phone contract and owns a cell phone will be more prone to using a cell phone than one who does not. This is even more true in the early years. In 1983, a handheld cell phone cost about four thousand US dollars. Anyone who pays that much for something obviously has reason to do so. For example, real estate agents were some of the first to embrace the technology, because even given the high cost, they needed to make appointments while traveling between properties.

It might be imperfect in that some cell phone owners will use it more than others, but a cell phone owner will always use it more than one who does not own a cell phone.

The study also contaminated the control group with the cell phone users.

The study looked at the habits of long term user as compared to the general population and to groups of similar demographic profiles. Some of those included those who had used a cell phone as well, but didn’t you just assert that it would not matter since the latency period is very long? In any case, it’s all but impossible to find a large group these days which has never owned a cell phone. So the study compared long term cell phone users to those who either had recently acquired a cell phone, never owned a cell phone or had been very light user. The study actually looked at the groups using more than one method. It examined it based on the length of the phone ownership, the average usage of the phone, the reported habits etc.

In all cases, no coloration to increases in brain cancer was ever detected.

Again, as with the INTERPHONE, the Danish Cohort made comparison of reliable data on cancer with the unreliable information about exposures cannot produce reliable final result.

And what the hell would you consider to be reliable data?

Brain cancer is a rare disease, somewhat in the range of around 10 cases per 100,000 people. It means that in order to reliably detect the change, which seems to be less than 50% according to flawed INTERPHONE, tens of thousands of the study subjects should be analyzed. This is very expensive but not necessarily productive.

It’s actually not quite that rare. In fact, it’s about twice as common as cited.

But regardless, the fact is that if the probability of brain cancer were increased by using a cell phone, it would be easy to detect if that probability increase were large. In other words, if it increased the risk from, 22 per 100,000 people to 23 per 100,000 people, that would be very hard to find and a massive sample would be needed. On the other hand, if it increased it from 22 per 100,000 people to 100 per 100,000 people, that would be easy to detect and would stand out from the statistical noise in even a modest study.

Therefore, what we can say from these studies, without doubt, is that while it is impossible to rule out the possibility that there is an increased risk, it must be vanishingly small, if it does exist, because otherwise it would have been easily detected.

As shown by the experiences with INTERPHONE and Danish Cohort, large amounts of money (tens of millions of Euros) and ample amounts of time (over 10 years) were used and no reliable answers received.

No, we have reliable answers. They’re just not the ones you want.

In the current situation, with the above presented experience, should the epidemiology be the first kind of studies to use our scarce research resources? Epidemiology is very expensive and takes a very long time to get results. Any flaw in the study design sets us back by ten or more years.

Well I agree in so much as there’s no point in throwing more money at this. We have plenty of data. The jury is not out. The questions have been answered. It’s time to consider spending money on things we don’t know.

Would we be we better off using the available funding for the human studies examining acute effects of cell phone radiation on physiology? This would, of course, include studies of the known molecular events leading to initiation and development of cancer. We still do not know if cell phone radiation triggers any such events in living humans.

We’ve actually done that too.

And as far as molecular events that lead to initiation and development of cancer, those are not observed with microwaves. No mechanism by which that could happen has ever been discovered, despite more than a century of study of RF fields and electromagnetic radiation.

Performing physiological studies on volunteer will provide information whether any known carcinogenic events are triggered by cell phone radiation. Depending on the result, we could act immediately by imposing preventive measures based on scientific evidence.

Yes, we have done that. We’ve done it on humans. We’ve done it on animals. We’ve done it on live tissue cultures. We’ve done it on chemical systems that mimic what goes on in cells.

To provide such information, epidemiology will still need tens of years before it is able to perform effective studies, assuming that studies will be designed without any major flaws. Volunteer studies examining physiology and pro-carcinogenetic events would provide information much faster.

It’s been done. At some point it becomes time to give up on the existence of something which has been studied for so long and has not been determined to exist.

In this time of scarce resources, we need to make choices how to obtain, most reliably and expeditiously, information about the possible effect of cell phone radiation on brain cancer.

Based on the experience of the last 10-15 years, epidemiology does not seem to be the method of choice.

Well, compared to an assclown with an ax to grind and a desire to be in the newspaper, it actually does pretty well.


This entry was posted on Friday, January 20th, 2012 at 9:15 pm and is filed under Bad Science, History, media, Misc, Quackery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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39 Responses to “Refuted: What to do with the epidemiology, cell phones and brain cancer?”

  1. 1
    P Delaney Says:

    Nice. Articles like will always persist. Funny they never consider the BENEFITS of cell phone use. Nor does anyone seem to be worried about cell-phone induced skin cancers (where the radiation is stronger than in the brain). If someone is that worried about getting a brain tumor using cell phone, then answer is simple: don’t use one!


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  2. 2
    Dariusz Says:

    The title of this blog quite accurately describes it author – Depleted Cranium. Read Interphone study and Danish cohort study before you make ridiculous comments. Apparently the Depleted Cranium has no faintest idea what research has been done on cell phones. I do not say that the radiation is harmful, but that the studies used to prove it are of insufficient quality to prove anything.


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  3. 3
    nomuse Says:

    Nice use of inline cites, Dariusz. Sure you read the Times style manual?


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  4. 4
    L.Long Says:

    Like Delaney says..
    Men mostly carry the fone in the right pocket, or right belt clip and it is there and on for 99% of the time so cancers of those areas should be very high. It aint. Concerned about this superstition? Dont use them.


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  5. 5
    Matte Says:

    Here you go:
    Isabelle Deltour, Anssi Auvinen, Maria Feychting, Christoffer Johansen, Lars Klaeboe, Risto Sankila & Joachim Schüz

    Mobile Phone Use and Incidence of Glioma in the Nordic Countries 1979-2008
    Epidemiology, online 16 January 2012, doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3182448295, paper issue Vol. 23, Nr 2, March 2012.

    Population Sample size ~25 million.

    I have a very nice picture of the Gliom incidence for Sweden since the beginning of the 1980:s to 2004 no trend can be discerned (can’t find the sodding picture on the web at the moment though). Swedes adopted mobiles early and pretty much everyone had one by 1995.


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  6. 6
    Dariusz Says:

    L.Long,
    Remember that when phone is in pocket or in belt clip it emits very little of radiation, just enough to keep in touch with the nearest cell tower. However, when you talk on the phone it emits much more radiation.
    As to “superstition” – would you like to have your next medicine tested so poorly as cell phones were?
    You do not need to take my word. Just read the original studies and wonder how some of them got even published.


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  7. 7
    Dariusz Says:

    Matte, read my coming column in The WashingtonTimes.com about this study…


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  8. 8
    Dariusz Says:

            nomuse said:

    Nice use of inline cites, Dariusz. Sure you read the Times style manual?

    I am not sure what do you mean…


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  9. 9
    Anon Says:

            Dariusz said:

    Remember that when phone is in pocket or in belt clip it emits very little of radiation, just enough to keep in touch with the nearest cell tower.

    Which is exactly how much it emits when you are talking as well.

    For you see, digital mobile phones (which are about the only type that you’ll still be able to connect to a base station these days) communicate with the base station to reduce or increase power based on how far the phone is from the base station so they always run at the lowest usable transmit power level (it’s more about reducing interference and increasing battery life than emissions reduction though, even at full power there’d be no safety issue).

            Dariusz said:

    However, when you talk on the phone it emits much more radiation.

    It emits the (harmless) radiation pretty much continuously (well old TDMA systems would pulse, but compared to standby it may as well be continuous) rather than turning on and off the transmitter every few seconds (another battery saving feature) to reconnect with the base station (and they’ll often transmit at higher power when they do that) but a person who has the phone in their pocket is still going to get more exposure from the standby time than the talk time unless they are a really heavy user of the phone.

    Of course if the phone can’t get a connection to a base station it’ll often just keep trying to connect anyway (this is why the batteries tend to run down quickly in a place with no signal).

            Dariusz said:

    As to “superstition” – would you like to have your next medicine tested so poorly as cell phones were?

    Most medicines haven’t been tested that extensively (and with medicines there are actually reasons to suspect there might be dangers, not so with mobile phones where only the scientifically illiterate are scared (and most of them probably talk on their phone while driving)).

            Dariusz said:

    You do not need to take my word. Just read the original studies and wonder how some of them got even published.

    Many of the studies which claimed to find an effect were flawed I’ll admit that much.


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  10. 10
    Anon2 Says:

            Dariusz said:

    The title of this blog quite accurately describes it author – Depleted Cranium. Read Interphone study and Danish cohort study before you make ridiculous comments. Apparently the Depleted Cranium has no faintest idea what research has been done on cell phones. I do not say that the radiation is harmful, but that the studies used to prove it are of insufficient quality to prove anything.

    Well, you certainly convinced me. You made very specific points and were actually able to support them with evidence, effectively tearing those studies (and the hundreds of others) to pieces. Perhaps it would behoove you to actually have an argument before jumping to ad-homs and expecting us to just take your word on things or come to the same general conclusions (which you don’t even bother to articulate) from reading the study. In light of your idiotic comments, I dub thee Ass Clown the Troll.


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  11. 11
    Dariusz Says:

            Anon2 said:

    Well, you certainly convinced me. You made very specific points and were actually able to support them with evidence, effectively tearing those studies (and the hundreds of others) to pieces. Perhaps it would behoove you to actually have an argument before jumping to ad-homs and expecting us to just take your word on things or come to the same general conclusions (which you don’t even bother to articulate) from reading the study. In light of your idiotic comments, I dub thee Ass Clown the Troll.

    It seems that it is a waste of time to discuss. You know yours and I know mine. I red studies for the last 12 years. A lot of them. I testified in US Senate and was invited by IARC as one of 30 experts that evaluated carcinogenicity of cell phone radiation. I am not sure if you read as much as I. So, my part in this useless and impolite discussion is over.


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  12. 12
    Bob Applebaum Says:

    It seems to me that there are 3 avenues of insight into cell phone carcinogenesis. One is human epidemiology, which can be too coarse because it involves observational data versus experimental data. Be that as it may, human epidemiological provides no evidence supporting the notion that cell phones cause cancer.

    A second avenue is non-human epidemiological data. This has the advantage of being experimentally based. According to a September, 2009 Health Physics Journal statement by the ICNIRP:

    “In addition, the recent in vitro and animal genotoxicity and carcinogenicity studies are rather consistent overall and indicate that such effects (non-thermal – BA) are unlikely at low levels of exposure.”

    A final avenue is to work from the other direction, and try to find a biological mechanism, which is what Dariusz is suggesting. But he also writes:

    “In this time of scarce resources, we need to make choices how to obtain, most reliably and expeditiously, information about the possible effect of cell phone radiation on brain cancer.”

    If this is a time of scarce resources, it seems to me we can get more public health value from our dollars, by focusing on those pathologies which are currently supported by at least one, if not more, of the avenues. Much money has already been spent in trying to identify a biological mechanism and none has been found. But if someone wants to spend their money on finding a biological mechanism, I wish him/her the best of luck.


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  13. 13
    Matte Says:

            Dariusz said:

    Matte, read my coming column in The WashingtonTimes.com about this study…

    TWT is not peer reviewed…sorry but I could not care less about your opinion. Strike that, I am not sorry in the slightest. Your opinion is also baseless.

    Thank you, come again.


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  14. 14
    Alan(UK) Says:

    Dariusz Leszczynski asks a valid question and the answer is simply that since:

    1) there has been no overall increase in the number of brain tumours since mobile phones came into common use

    2) on current knowledge there can be no physically possible mechanism for mobile phones to cause brain tumours

    3) the only known physically possible mechanism to do harm is due to heating and the standards used set a level well below any known harmful level

    we are unlikely to be able, in the laboratory, to use mobile phone signals to induce brain tumours. We actually do not have a clue how to go about it and thus, even if it were possible, we would still probably fail to find it.

    Thus, if we are going to do anything at all, we are stuck with an epidemiological study. After all, it worked for cigarettes. However, the facts of the situation are subtly different since:

    1) lung cancer cases had been increasing during the time that cigarette smoking became common

    2) there was anecdotal evidence that there was a connection between smoking and lung cancer

    3) on existing knowledge it could not be shown that there was no physically possible mechanism for smoking to cause lung cancer

    4) people generally had a very good idea how many cigarettes they smoked or that a deceased relative smoked.

    In the case of cigarettes, the epidemiological study had a definite outcome: there is a correlation between smoking and lung cancer. In the case of epidemiological studies involving mobile phones we come up against two problems:

    1) there was no paper published in a respected, peer-reviewed, journal expressing even anecdotal evidence that there was any connection between mobile phone use and brain tumours (even Andrew Wakefield’s fans can point to this) and indeed there was strong evidence that any connection was physically impossible, further, there was strong evidence that the incidence of brain tumours had not increased during the time in question.

    2) there is a lack of accurate information about people’s actual mobile phone use.

    The epidemiologist is not even told what correlation he is trying to find. Hours of use? Output power? Modulation method? Age? Sex? Ethnicity? Length of calls? Frequency of calls? Waveband used? Is it an electromagnetic effect or some other cause? If we want to include all possibilities, we can start by adding: height of mast? proximity to a school (especially playing fields), or proximity to a busy main road (really)? Then we could look for other health effects. Cancer of the hand? Skin cancer? Something non-cancerous.

    There is no data available on the precise exposure levels and exposure times of any very large group of individuals. Mobile phones cut their output power drastically when conditions are suitable, thus you could accumulate a large amount of data on phone use and have it all made worthless because the power levels were negligible.

    If you divide the subjects into enough categories and consider enough separate (or even combined) parameters, there is bound to be false correlations.

    All we can conclude is:

    1) We do not think that mobile phones are dangerous

    2) There is no evidence that mobile phones are dangerous

    3) If there was any significant danger, we think that we would have detected it.


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  15. 15
    Anon2 Says:

            Dariusz said:

    So, my part in this useless and impolite discussion is over.

    Thank God for small favors. Look, I’d be happy to discuss this with you if you had anything to contribute besides calling someone stupid when they actually address your argumentative failings. Instead you act like a teenager whose argument gets shattered by pouting and throwing insults. Here is a BIG hint for you if you’d like to be involved in adult conversations: When someone attacks your argument, support your argument, don’t attack them and insist people accept your word or conclusions without merit or reason. I would think being a writer you’d know better but alas, I was sorely mistaken.


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  16. 16
    Anon Says:

            Anon2 said:

    I would think being a writer you’d know better but alas, I was sorely mistaken.

    He looks to me like he’s really just an activist for a worthless cause who every so often gets to write a media article (not a regular journalist), or at least that’s how it looks from his statements here.


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  17. 17
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Dariusz said:

    The title of this blog quite accurately describes it author – Depleted Cranium. Read Interphone study and Danish cohort study before you make ridiculous comments. Apparently the Depleted Cranium has no faintest idea what research has been done on cell phones. I do not say that the radiation is harmful, but that the studies used to prove it are of insufficient quality to prove anything.

    First, as to whether cell phone cause or do not cause brain cancer, the problem with starting off with that line of logic is that there’s no reason to presume they world, or rather, you can contend that they are no more or less likely to cause allergies or fecal incontinence. There’s no known mechanism by which they could, and while that does not preclude a as yet undscovered mechanism, given how well we understand RF radiation, it’s hard to think one might be hiding.

    Now as for the studies, I’ll grant you that if we take the interphone and Danish studies at their face and only those studies, we can’t say much conclusively. Those two studies are not enough. They are reassuring, sure, but on their own, a methodology flaw could mean they’re not 100% reliable.

    They don’t stand on their own, of course. Their data is consistant with many thousands of studies that existed before.

    The thing is this really is not about cell phones. It’s about non-ionizing radiation. This a topic that goes back a long long way. The first modern wide scale studies on UHF and microwave radiation health effects started in the early days of World War II. Before the late 1930′s, most RF radiation was diffused enough to rarely cause injury. When the British started deploying cavity magnitrons in radar, a few servicemen were unaware of the intense microwave beam they produced and were burned. These injuries lead to the military investigating whether the exposure to radar might cause other health effects and possibly effect battle readiness.

    Direct study never stopped. Men who were exposed to high power microwave equipment on the DEW line and in World War II and Korea provided an excellent study group, because it was not until the 1970′s or so that people encountered UHF transmitters frequently in their homes. (although they existed before this for a few applications). Studies hav been done on veterans who were commonly exposed to RF fields for years.

    They have also been done on police. There was concern about the fact that many cops spent years at arms length from a radar gun. They are a great group because many did it for decades and we have a good idea what they were exposed to because we know how many hours a day they sat there with a speed gun.

    We have plenty of other examples of studies. Cell phone studies, RF field studies, humans, animals, tissue cultures etc etc etc. There’s no shortage.


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  18. 18
    DV82XL Says:

            Bob Applebaum said:

    If this is a time of scarce resources, it seems to me we can get more public health value from our dollars, by focusing on those pathologies which are currently supported by at least one, if not more, of the avenues. Much money has already been spent in trying to identify a biological mechanism and none has been found. But if someone wants to spend their money on finding a biological mechanism, I wish him/her the best of luck.

    Wonders will never cease. Applebaum has posted something I can wholeheartedly agree with.


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  19. 19
    I'mnotreallyhere Says:

    I still own every single phone bill that I have ever had. All of them. What’s more I expect that my mobile phone networks still have, archived somewhere, a billing paper trail of every call I’ve ever made – probably including the pay-as-you-go phone I had for my first 18 months as a mobile phone user.

    My point, very obviously, is to ask: why are we forced to rely on observational data? Surely it would be possible (with considerable effort I admit) to obtain the kind of absolute numerical data which is needed to answer the question properly?

    It would also allow testing of a wide range of hypotheses – is there correlation based on :
    - duration of mobile/cell phone ownership?
    - overall cumulative usage?
    - short term high usage?
    - the effect (if any) of a single long call?

    Most mobile phone users can also work out which phones they have had, which could, if required, be used to get a vague idea of signal power (though given most phones will vary this as required by distance-to-mast it’s not necessarily relevant unless you can get THAT data).


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  20. 20
    Anon Says:

            I’mnotreallyhere said:

    Most mobile phone users can also work out which phones they have had, which could, if required, be used to get a vague idea of signal power (though given most phones will vary this as required by distance-to-mast it’s not necessarily relevant unless you can get THAT data).

    Unless you go back all the way to analogue phones which always operated at full power I doubt you’d be able to get it (I’m not sure if the phones companies can even figure out what power level a phone is using given that from what I’ve heard the tower just tells the phone to increase or decrease power).

    But even when we do go back in time that far we still don’t find any evidence (and given that typical transmit power of analogue phones is about the maximum of even modern ones…we shouldn’t expect modern phones to be any worse).


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  21. 21
    Matte Says:

    Found it!
    http://www.nyteknik.se/multimedia/bilder/article182544.ece/BINARY/original/gliomtabell700

    This plot probably does not need translation. From what I have heard the incidence of glioma and Meningioma is on a slight downward trend. It is decreasing in males 20-45 but sligtly increasing in males 60-75.
    Please note that this plot only represents Sweden, but Sweden adopted mobile technology early. Even though I am from a humble familly my father got his first “mobile” (I hesitate to call it a mobile, more like “with considerable effort moveable”) in 1987. The marker in the plot shows when they became affordable for most people and started to be adopted.

    Oh, Lennart Hardell (Swedens own cancer alarmist champion!) claims that the incidence of Glioma is increasing rampantly in Sweden, not that anyone of note listens to him any more.


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  22. 22
    Matte Says:

    Hmmm, I would have thought that prof. Dariusz Leszczynski (if that was really him commenting) was another Busby/Hardell type but he actually works for STUK. Though he seems to believe in EHS, cancer from long wave EMF and god knows what else…

    I am guessing he is “the other perspective” at the radiation safety authority.

    The fact that he started his posting here in a rather rude way I would assume some form of personal problem…


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  23. 23
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Bob Applebaum said:

    If this is a time of scarce resources, it seems to me we can get more public health value from our dollars, by focusing on those pathologies which are currently supported by at least one, if not more, of the avenues. Much money has already been spent in trying to identify a biological mechanism and none has been found. But if someone wants to spend their money on finding a biological mechanism, I wish him/her the best of luck.

    Science has many open cases where research money would make a difference. IMHO, the cell phone cancer thing is as close to closed as it can ever be.

    Why not spend funds on something useful? How about tin whiskers. It’s a weird thing that happens with solder and soft metal alloys. It’s a big problem in the electronics industry. We’re still not entirely why some materials produce them and some don’t. We’ve learned some, but gettng a better understanding of tin whiskers would help in a lot of areas.

    How about lithium pharmacology? Despite being used as a mood stabalizer for decades with great success, the mechanism of action is not fully understood. Figuring it out could provide a way to create better psycoactive drugs and better tailor treatment.

    There is still much we don’t know about digestive enzymes.

    We’re not entirely sure why some people are prone to kidney stones. We do know some factors involvd, but for some reason, some people seem to have phases where their kidney chemistry changes in a way that creates the stones. It may be partially genetic.

    There is a rare phenemona where atmosphric conditons cause aircraft to produce more wake turbulance than normal and we’re not entirely sure why that happens. It would be nice to better understand those conditons, since they could impact runway safety.

    We have an only partial understanding of the enviornmental factors that can contribute to algea bloom events.

    There are many areas where studies could yeild valuable and useful data.


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  24. 24
    Bob Hamilton Says:

    OK Buzzo, you keep saying that there are “thousands of studies” that say cell phones do not cause cancer. How about citing say two, discussing their methodology, and the significance level their conclusions. You seem to be doing a lot of huffing and puffing with nothing to back up your statements. The same for all your asinine acolytes who post on this board.


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  25. 25
    Iamthep Says:

    Many people say it is physically impossible for emf from cellphones to cause cancer. However, I think this is with regard to damaging the DNA of a cell. I do wonder if EMF waves could cause the ratio of folded to unfolded states of certain proteins to be changed. Or perhaps change the optimal folded state of a protein. Mostly I am wondering if this could affect the interactions of certain polarized amino acids. I have looked for papers on this, but have not found anything.

    Anyone know if these studies have been done? I imagine it wouldn’t be too hard to perform.


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  26. 26
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Bob Hamilton said:

    OK Buzzo, you keep saying that there are “thousands of studies” that say cell phones do not cause cancer. How about citing say two, discussing their methodology, and the significance level their conclusions. You seem to be doing a lot of huffing and puffing with nothing to back up your statements. The same for all your asinine acolytes who post on this board.

    40 Year Follow Up of Korean War Radar Technicians: http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/2002/radarkorea

    Occupational Exposure of Police Officers to Microwave Radiation From Traffic Radar Devices: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/radiofrequencyradiation/fnradpub.html

    Epidemiological Studies of Radio Frequency Exposures: grouper.ieee.org/groups/scc28/sc4/EPI.pdf


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  27. 27
    Anon Says:

            Iamthep said:

    Many people say it is physically impossible for emf from cellphones to cause cancer. However, I think this is with regard to damaging the DNA of a cell. I do wonder if EMF waves could cause the ratio of folded to unfolded states of certain proteins to be changed.

    How could it do that? Thermal effects probably do it but mobile phone radiation isn’t enough for that and there’s no other mechanism we know of (or can even think of).


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  28. 28
    I'mnotreallyhere Says:

    Further to what I said above, if billing information for mobile phone users is still archived by their network operator (I’d imagine that business accreditations like ISO 9001 require a sizeable duration of archiving these days) then UK users at least can demand, under freedom of information laws, every scrap of data the company holds for the not-unreasonable fee of £10.

    Assuming a couple of networks per person in their mobile phone using life, the research budget would need to stretch to around £30 per person? £3million for a 100,000 subject study. As academic research goes, that’s really not very much cash. Hell, a small research team working on it for a couple of years would cost you as much.

    And of course, the networks might be inclined to waive the costs, given the potential advantages of having such concrete data to kill the debate.


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  29. 29
    Matte Says:

            Anon said:

    How could it do that? Thermal effects probably do it but mobile phone radiation isn’t enough for that and there’s no other mechanism we know of (or can even think of).

    Dielectrophretic forces, I have done some work in this field. However in order for the force to actually be measurable you need some pretty special circumstances and intense fields (kV/m or more). Protiens are a big lump of rather poor conductors so the field needs to be even stronger. DNA behaves in a similar manner to proteins so that would be tenous at best.

    There are plenty of studies who claim effects on DNA, proteins, cytomitosis (?) and poor swimming sailors after exposure to EMF, they are all in vitro however. There are some interesting mouse experiments but I do question the method, zapping mice with microwaves are bound to cook them as they like it warm.

    I have heard that EM-fields change the conductivity of double lipid layers (cellular membranes) which causes an increas in free radical production. Meh, still lacks the important physics there.

    There are lots of fantastic claims out there, but fantastic claims need fantastic proof, which is considerable lacking at the moment. Oh, and I am not holding my breath either.


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  30. 30
    Anon Says:

            I’mnotreallyhere said:

    And of course, the networks might be inclined to waive the costs, given the potential advantages of having such concrete data to kill the debate.

    Why bother, at this point we’ve studied the issue enough for any reasonable person to be satisfied that there is no reason for concern, those who still think the issue is open will never be convinced because they simply don’t care what the evidence says and will always come up with some excuse for why it doesn’t matter.

    Though I’d expect that the phone networks might be willing to waive the cost anyway but there isn’t any reason to expect it to go away if we just do one more study (there may be a few people left who have some small legitimate issue which they’ve blown out of proportion who could be convinced by a study which addresses that but not many).

            Matte said:

    Dielectrophretic forces, I have done some work in this field. However in order for the force to actually be measurable you need some pretty special circumstances and intense fields (kV/m or more). Protiens are a big lump of rather poor conductors so the field needs to be even stronger. DNA behaves in a similar manner to proteins so that would be tenous at best.

    So no then?


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  31. 31
    Matte Says:

            Anon said:

    So no then?

    Well here is the mice study I remember;
    Nittby, H., Grafstrom, G., Tian, D. P., Malmgren, L., Brun, A., Persson, B. R., et al. (2008). Cognitive impairment in rats after long-term exposure to GSM-900 mobile phone radiation. Bioelectromagnetics, 29(3), 219-232.

    The study is pretty good and do find that the visual memmory of the mice are severely hampered. However I wonder what they used as a control group of mice as the rodents being cooked with EMF had a genetic predisposition for developing visual imparedness or outright blindness at the age of 8-12 months. It would be quite stupid to subject mice at the age of 16-18 months to visual memory tests WHEN THEY ARE FREAKING BLIND!? Never the less they showed that mice had developed memory problems after being zapped with EMF for 2 hours per day…

    Another travesty when it comes to Swedish research, I thought Lund University could do better than that!?


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  32. 32
    Matte Says:

    Corrections;
    It was a PhD thesis from Linköping University not Lund University (my apologies to my old alma mater)

    And the rats had a known age related degeneration of their retinas (Fischer 344), and they where used at the age of 18-21 months, none where younger than this range.

    Sorry about that.


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  33. 33
    I'mnotreallyhere Says:

            Anon said:

    Why bother, at this point we’ve studied the issue enough for any reasonable person to be satisfied that there is no reason for concern, those who still think the issue is open will never be convinced because they simply don’t care what the evidence says and will always come up with some excuse for why it doesn’t matter.

    The more data there is the harder and harder people like Dariusz would find it to make plausible arguments against it.

    It’s not about proving that vanilla is the best ice-cream, their trade is in pointing out that chocolate isn’t.


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  34. 34
    Anon2 Says:

            Bob Hamilton said:

    You seem to be doing a lot of huffing and puffing with nothing to back up your statements. The same for all your asinine acolytes who post on this board.

    I especially love these kinds of people. Dr. Buzzo was kind enough to actually put his thoughts into individual arguments addressing the points and even refer to the type of studies and when they occured. Then poor little Dariusz and his sycophants whine about it with accusations like there hasn’t been any counter argument made or evidence provided and when they are indeed provided with the evidence they call for, they disappear leaving no argument of substance but mere insults and exasperated comments. Too bad for you people don’t take your foolishness at your word.


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  35. 35
    Biron Says:

    Check out the latest blog on Washington Times from Dariusz Leszczynski:

    http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/between-rock-and-hard-place/2012/jan/31/mice-men-cell-phones-toxicology-health-risk/

    He went the other way here, giving a blistering rebuke to an Athens team that claimed there was a hazardous effect. He stated (via a link to his own blog) that the paper should be withdrawn. He is taking some heat from the anti-wireless hordes for that.


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  36. 36
    Matte Says:

    That is wierd…I thought he was going to rebuke the study I cited further up in this thread;
    “Mobile Phone Use and Incidence of Glioma in the Nordic Countries 1979-2008″

    Oh, well. Perhaps the good Dr. Buzzo provided the cold feet.

    All he is saying is that “we can’t rely on animal studies to confirm that MW radiation is harmful to humans”.

    So, epidemiological studies are not good enough, animal trials are not good enough so what is left according to our friendly Finnish-Pole? Direct human trials? Anecdotal evidence? I know what I would go for…


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  37. 37
    Biron Says:

    Did you read the review from his blog? He is quite harsh on the study and the alarmists are none too pleased.

    http://betweenrockandhardplace.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/%E2%80%A2greek-proteomics-study-on-effect-of-cell-phone-radiation-on-mice-brain/

    He chose that story because a well-known blogger “Deever” suggested it.

    This study is all over the alarmist websites, so they must be pretty p1$$3d off that he criticized.

    Are you aware that he was one of the 30 scientists voting at the IARC May 31, 2011 where the infamous Group 2B classification was made?

    http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Meetings/vol102-participants.pdf

    Whether or not you agree with his research he is a person of serious substance in this debate.


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  38. 38
    Anon Says:

    The fact that IARC has only placed one substance in their lowest hazard category doesn’t speak well to their credibility.


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  39. 39
    Dariusz Says:

            Biron said:

    Check out the latest blog on Washington Times from Dariusz Leszczynski:

    http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/between-rock-and-hard-place/2012/jan/31/mice-men-cell-phones-toxicology-health-risk/

    He went the other way here, giving a blistering rebuke to an Athens team that claimed there was a hazardous effect. He stated (via a link to his own blog) that the paper should be withdrawn. He is taking some heat from the anti-wireless hordes for that.

    Biron,
    I did not go the other way. The way is the same. I am reviewing study and showing it shortcomings, flaws and overstatements. The same I have done for Interphone or Danish Cohort.
    I am reviewing science independently of whether the study sees effect or not.
    I just look at science and let other to put spin on it.
    Of course not every one agrees with me but I would not expect anything eles. And thiat is the reason why my blog and my column are called Between a Rock and a Hard Place.
    Thanks Biron for your good and civil commenting.


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