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President’s Cancer Panel Recommends Precaution with Cell Phones and Wireless Technologies

By Camilla Rees via

The President’s Cancer Panel reported on Thursday, May 6, 2010 that “the true burden of environmentally induced cancers has been grossly underestimated” and named cell phones and other wireless technologies as potential causes of cancer that demand further research and precaution.

In its recommendations to the President, the panel stated “Methods for long-term monitoring and quantification of electromagnetic energy exposures related to cell phones and wireless technologies are urgently needed given the escalating use of these devices by larger and younger segments of the population and the higher radiofrequencies newer devices produce.”

In this article about the panel’s report from Environmental Health News Dr. Ted Schettler, Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network explains “Another sensitive issue raised in the report was the risk of brain cancer from cell phones. Scientists are divided on whether there is a link. Until more research is conducted, the panel recommended that people reduce their usage by making fewer and shorter calls, using hands-free devices so that the phone is not against the head and refraining from keeping a phone on a belt or in a pocket. Even if cell phones raise the risk of cancer slightly, so many people are exposed that it could be a large public health burden.”

New Report About EMF Near Schools

By Jim Turner, Chair of Citizens For Health

Today I participated in a teleconference unveiling a new report on the dangerous proximity of cell phone towers to schools. The BRAG™ Ranking report is the result of a multi-year study of school children’s potential exposure to cell phone antennas and base stations in U.S. state capitols. It assesses exposure metrics for approximately 6,000 public and private schools, and ranks them according to proximity to the nearest cell phone antenna. The report recommends that schools, school districts, municipalities and states call upon the FCC to require a 1,500 feet setback for any/all wireless infrastructure near schools. The searchable 173-page report can be viewed at

The substance of my talk was that if one Googles “cell phone dangers” you will find significant assertions of harm caused by cell phones. The harm alleged ranges from damage to nerves in the scalp, to brain tumors both “benign” and cancerous and include impairing the blood brain barrier, interfering with the effectiveness of pharmaceutical drugs, memory loss and mental confusion, extreme fatigue and joint pain, muscle spasms and tremors, asthma, stress on the pancreas, thyroid, ovaries, testes.

There is scientific data connecting each and all of these serious harms to cell phone use. The cell phone industry argues that none of the data is “conclusive” and most if not all of it is based on flawed science that is on poor studies or improperly analyzed studies. In 1993 faced with its first law suite alleging brain cancer from cell phone use (dismissed two years later) the cell industry trade association launched a $25 million research program. To this date data generated by this effort remains inaccessible to the public and the scientist hired to manage the project has assailed it as a sham.

FDA approved cell phones as safe, critics of the agency and cell phones allege, because they do not emit heat the way microwave ovens do. For this reason, critics allege, the agency said cell phones could not be harmful. However the low radiofrequency (RF) energy radio of cell phones has caught the attention of a number or researchers leading to studies identifying the laundry list of potential hazards created by cell phone use—especially after ten years of use and especially in children.

This record of the scientific debate is following the same trajectory as the debate about cancer and smoking. Finally, after more than one hundred years and more than 50, thousand studies connecting smoking and cancer the heath community and the nation have concluded that smoking does cause or contribute to cancer many other diseases. This is not a story that we wish to see repeated.

Citizens for Health places cell phone dangers high on its list of health concerns for three reasons:

First, claims that evidence is not “conclusive” raise a red flag. If individuals, the pubic at large and regulators wait for evidence of harm to be conclusion before taking defensive action the amount of death and disability when the connection is finally accepted as conclusive will be astronomical. It is a fact that the evidence establishing that cell phone safety is also not conclusive.

Second, when powerful economic interests such as the cell pone industry are ranged on one side of a health debate it is virtually impossible to find out what the actual health consequences of the money generating product are. Standing by mute as both industry and government under industry sway are dong launches us onto another hundred year scramble where money trumps health.

Third, the public has the right to be informed about the risks and benefits of products they buy so that they can make effective choices of safer products. The public also has the right to expect that the products they buy are safe—or at least that they are fully informed about the risk they take when buying the product and the public has the right to have its concerns treated properly, not swept aside, by industry and government.

Cell phone markers and their supposed regulators violate each of these three principles. The pubic is in the dark about the nature and degree of danger created by cell phones. The cell phone industry is powerful and has virtual control—including veto power—over research on cell phones. And the fact that data is piling up raising issues that must be dealt with seriously underscores the magnitude of the problem being swept under the rug by the cell phone industry and government.

One researcher critical of cell phone as unsafe—and dismissed by the industry as scientifically unsound–Dr. Vini Khurana, an Australian neurosurgeon says he anticipates “that this (cell phone) danger has far broader public health ramifications than asbestos and smoking”.

Brain Tumor Hazard For Children From Cell Phones

Washington, DC, September 4, 2009

On August 25, 2009 the International EMF [Electro Magnetic Field] Collaborative released Cellphones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern. This report underscores the risk of tumors from cellphone use, especially for children. Endorsed by a wide range of scientists from around the world, the report makes three findings based on a review of existing scientific data: 1) There is a risk of brain tumors from cellphone use; 2) Telecom funded studies underestimate the risk of brain tumors; and, 3) Children have larger risks than adults for brain tumors.

The Collaborative’s report, by well-known health advocacy groups, and with over forty additional scientific endorsers, specifically underscores the shortcomings of a $25 million, multi-country study conducted for the cellphone industry, the so called “Interphone” study. The industry effort was begun over ten years ago in response to significant evidence that cellphones posed a risk of brain tumors. Interphone researchers finished collecting data for the study in 2004, but amid reports of conflicts among researchers within the study group (some saw serious risk, some saw no risk and some counseled silence), final results remain hidden from the public.

Partial Interphone results released thus far by some of the participating countries raise doubts about the validity of any of the Interphone study’s conclusions, and raise the spectre that some design flaws may have been intended to underestimate risk.

The Collaborative’s report cites a recent Swedish study which reported a 420% increase in tumor risk for teenage cellphone users. France has banned cell phones in primary schools and is calling on manufacturers to produce texting-only cellphones for children, thereby reducing radiation to the head. University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Director Emeritus, Ronald B. Herberman, MD, citing substantial evidence that long term exposure to radiofrequency radiation may lead to increased risk for brain tumors, issued a precautionary advisory to the Institute’s faculty and staff last year. Lloyd Morgan, lead author of the Collaborative’s new report, told Computerworld magazine, “I fear we will see a tsunami of brain tumors, although it is too early to see that now, since the tumors have a 30-year latency.” He added, ” I pray I’m wrong, but brace yourself.”

The Collaborative’s report, subtitled “Science, Spin and the Truth Behind Interphone” cited Interphone study design flaws that included categorizing subjects who used portable phones (which emit the same microwave radiation as cellphones) as “unexposed;” excluding many types of brain tumors; excluding people who had died, or were too ill to be interviewed, as a consequence of their brain tumors; and excluding children and young adults, who are more vulnerable.

Industry Spin

John Walls, vice president of public affairs for the CTIA, which represents cellphone makers in the U.S., said in a statement in response to the Collaborative’s report that “peer-reviewed scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that wireless devices do not pose a public health risk.” He claimed that the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have all concurred that wireless devices are not a public health risk.

In fact, however, the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is on record as saying, “The available science does not allow us to conclude that mobile phones are absolutely safe, or that they are unsafe. However, the available scientific evidence does not demonstrate any adverse health effects associated with the use of mobile phones.”

The FDA and FCC jointly state that “The available scientific evidence does not show that any health problems are associated with using wireless phones. There is no proof, however, that wireless phones are absolutely safe.”

Video About Cell Phones & Cigarettes

Maine To Consider Cancer Warnings on Cell Phones

cell phone cancer

By GLENN ADAMS (AP Writer) via

AUGUSTA, Maine – A Maine legislator wants to make the state the first to require cell phones to carry warnings that they can cause brain cancer, although there is no consensus among scientists that they do and industry leaders dispute the claim.

The now-ubiquitous devices carry such warnings in some countries, though no U.S. states require them, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. A similar effort is afoot in San Francisco, where Mayor Gavin Newsom wants his city to be the nation’s first to require the warnings.

Maine Rep. Andrea Boland, D-Sanford, said numerous studies point to the cancer risk, and she has persuaded legislative leaders to allow her proposal to come up for discussion during the 2010 session that begins in January, a session usually reserved for emergency and governors’ bills.

Boland herself uses a cell phone, but with a speaker to keep the phone away from her head. She also leaves the phone off unless she’s expecting a call. At issue is radiation emitted by all cell phones.

Under Boland’s bill, manufacturers would have to put labels on phones and packaging warning of the potential for brain cancer associated with electromagnetic radiation. The warnings would recommend that users, especially children and pregnant women, keep the devices away from their head and body.

The Federal Communications Commission, which maintains that all cell phones sold in the U.S. are safe, has set a standard for the “specific absorption rate” of radiofrequency energy, but it doesn’t require handset makers to divulge radiation levels.

The San Francisco proposal would require the display of the absorption rate level next to each phone in print at least as big as the price. Boland’s bill is not specific about absorption rate levels, but would require a permanent, nonremovable advisory of risk in black type, except for the word “warning,” which would be large and in red letters. It would also include a color graphic of a child’s brain next to the warning.

While there’s little agreement about the health hazards, Boland said Maine’s roughly 950,000 cell phone users among its 1.3 million residents “do not know what the risks are.”

All told, more than 270 million people subscribed to cellular telephone service last year in the United States, an increase from 110 million in 2000, according to CTIA-The Wireless Association. The industry group contends the devices are safe.

Evidence Still Fuzzy On Cell Phones, Cancer

By Elizabeth Landau

cell phone tumor

(CNN) — In the year since a U.S. cancer researcher’s warning drew wide attention, more evidence is emerging that long-term cell phone use is associated with cancer, but there’s still not a definitive explanation or proof of cause and effect.

Last summer, Dr. Ronald Herberman, then director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, issued a warning to about 3,000 faculty and staff, listing steps to avoid harmful electromagnetic radiation from cell phones. This included keeping the phone away from the body as much as possible and not allowing children to use cell phones except in emergencies.

“Since I put out that precautionary advisory in July of last year, I believe there is more indication for concern, particularly among children,” he recently said.

A much-anticipated but unreleased report from the World Health Organization on a decade-long investigation called Interphone will show a “significantly increased risk” of some brain tumors “related to use of mobile phones for a period of 10 years or more,” the London Daily Telegraph reported in late October. The study will be published before the end of the year, the newspaper said.

Supporting that conclusion, a recent study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology that looked at 23 case-control studies found that the research with the more scientifically rigorous methodologies suggested cell phones and tumors are linked. The eight strongest studies made sure the investigators did not know which participants had tumors when they conducted the interviews about cell phone use, and they did not receive funding from industry groups.

Studies that looked at people who had used cell phones 10 years or longer tended to find the strongest risk of tumors. Researchers found that cell phone users had a 10 percent to 30 percent higher risk than people who barely, if ever, used this technology.

A telling feature of the findings in the stronger studies was that the side of the head against which people held their cell phones was highly correlated with the location of tumors, said Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley.

Skeptics criticize this as “recall bias.” People may be more likely to think about using a cell phone on the same side of the head as the tumor because they’re asked about it in that context.

Moskowitz said he was surprised to see that a subgroup of studies found this increased risk of tumors.

The poorer-quality studies actually found that cell phones had a protective quality — that the phones helped stave off tumors — but could not offer an explanation for why, he said. Many of these weaker studies were also funded by telecommunications industry groups, he said.

Top ‘Safe’ Cell Phones That Aren’t Safe

By Camilla Rees, via

cell phone

Just prior to the recent Senate hearings on cell phone safety, Chaired by Senator Tom Harkin, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a new database for consumers ranking over 1,000 cell phones by the Specific Absorption Rate, known as the SAR value.

The SAR value is a measure of the power of the cell phone and its potential for heating tissues.

The SAR value has been available for some time through the FCC’s own databases but has never before been made available in one central, easily accessible source in the United States. Nor is the SAR value listed on box packaging of cell phones at the point of sale for comparison purposes.

All that has changed.

Within days of the EWG launching the new SAR value database, and issuing its 42-page report entitled “Cell Phone Radiation Science: Review of Cancer Risks and Children’s Health”, almost 500,000 people had accessed the database, indicating very encouraging new interest by consumers in cell phone safety.

Consumers’ new awareness of the SAR value will be certain to influence phone selections going forward (though sales reps at T-Mobile and Verizon I quizzed a week later still knew nothing about it.)

It is important consumers realize that the SAR value, while providing information for comparison purposes between phones, is very limited in its usefulness as a measure of ‘safety’. We are greatly concern that people may be turning to the EWG database in droves not understanding just how limited a measure the SAR value is.

What You Need to Know About Your Phone’s SAR Value.

1. The SAR value is only comparing the heating effect of different phones and does not give an indication that a cell phone is ‘safe’, or for that matter anything about the biological effect of cell phone use in a given person.