EMFs, mobile phones and cancer risk; it’s your call

EMFs, mobile phones and cancer risk; it’s your call

A Comprehensive review of the dangers of EMFs, Wifi, masts and mobile phones and the increased risk of cancer

This article on the links between EMFs and increased cancer risk has been prepared by Chris Woollams with contributions from Eileen OConnor of RRT and SCRAM, h.e.s.e-uk, Powerwatch and George Carlo amongst others. Clearly, the last few years have been notable for several ’game changing’ events concerning mobile phones, WIFI and EMFs and cancer risk in general. 

There is clearly an increased risk of cancer associated with certain EMFs. The WHO and IARC have now warned on EMF’s and cited a 40 per cent increased risk of glioma (brain cancer) with mobile phone usage; while the European Assembly have asked member Governments in the EU to switch schools from WiFi to fixed line and regulate the use of mobile phones in schools. They have even passed a resolution instructing Governments to provide information to parents, teachers and schoolchildren warning of the dangers of EMF’s, mobile phones and WiFi. It is a major step-change. In the report from IARC, researchers cited the links with brain tumours.

At CANCERactive we have been warning the world of the dangers to health, and particularly the possibility of increased risks of cancer for well over a decade when other cancer charities have not merely ignored the problem but even issued bizarre statements such as ’There is no evidence against mobile phones in relation to increased risks of cancer’ when there blatantly was! It gives us absolutely no pleasure to be proven right. 

Independent studies invariably show links between cell phone usage and health issues, even cancer. 

Go to: Two independent studies link cell tower radiation to cancer

And cancer clusters have been found linking masts to brain cancer (Click Here).

However, reports on the dangers to public health from mobile phones are most usually funded by cell phone providers. By pure coincidence, these have invariably found no risks. Yet in 2010 and 2011 we have finally seen warnings in leaflets provided with new mobile phones such as iPhones, Blackberry and others saying extra-ordinary things like ’Do not put to your head’ and ’Do not carry on your body when switched on’, plus other warnings to do with children and pregnancy.

Governments and Health Authorities are finally listening to the warnings

IARC, (the foremost cancer research body on the causes of cancer in the world), the World Health Organisation and the European Parliamentary Assembly are finally acting. First, in May of 2011, IARC, in Lyon, issued a Press Release stating that Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields have been classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans (group 2B) based on an increased risk of glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use. 

Campaigners including myself, see this as a major breakthrough. (For the full Press Release CLICK HERE). We have long noted that if you rule out the research paid for by the mobile phone companies themselves, the independent studies leave open-minded scientists in little doubt about potential risks.

In 2012 The Italian Supreme Court ruled that mobile phones could cause brain tumours (CLICK HERE). This followed a case brought by a man who had had to use a mobile phone in his work, and developed a brain tumour.

For my own part, I have not stopped there. Regular readers will know that I regard all electromagnetic radiation as a potentially hazardous threat. And that includes masts opposite your home and the poorly researched but ubiquitous WIFI. Any one who has seen the excellent 2012 TV UK series on the human body will now know that it takes 20 years for the brain and the nervous system to form fully. Meanwhile our children sit in a soup of electrosmog at their schools.

A second ’Breakthrough’ came in 2011 and I quote directly from the official press release:

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), meeting in Kyiv at Standing Committee level, May 27, 2011 called on European governments to take all reasonable measures to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields, especially to radio frequencies from mobile phones, and particularly the exposure to children and young people who seem to be most at risk from head tumours.

 

According to parliamentarians, governments should "for children in general, and particularly in schools and classrooms, give preference to wired Internet connections, and strictly regulate the use of mobile phones by schoolchildren on school premises, and put in place information and awareness-raising campaigns on the risks of potentially harmful long-term biological effects on the environment and on human health, especially targeting children, teenagers and young people of reproductive age. (For full details - CLICK HERE)

Phone1

A few years ago I was one of the scientists endorsing the report ’Cellphones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern. Science, Spin and the Truth Behind Interphone’ - that left readers in no doubt about the dangers of mobile phones. The report (click here) on the dangers of brain tumours from mobile phones was endorsed by US and Russian experts alike and was prepared by independent bodies such as Powerwatch and the Radiation Research Trust in the U.K and in the U.S., EMR Policy Institute, ElectromagneticHealth.org and The Peoples Initiative Foundation.

It states unequivocally that:


  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.

Interestingly, 2010 saw the surprise introduction of warnings (albeit buried deep in the small print of leaflets inside new mobile phone boxes). These warnings made quite extraordinary reading with statements such as ’Keep the phone away from your head when making calls’ and ’Do not carry the mobile phone on your body when switched on’, plus others about usage for pregnant women and children. The mobile phone makers have now warned you about possible dangers! Are you heeding the warnings?

Of course, the risks are not simply confined to the machine you hold next to your head or carry on your body. Readers of icon magazine (Winter 2007/8) may have seen a piece in Cancer Watch: Taiwan to dismantle 1,500 phone masts. Taiwanese legislators have ordered the removal of 1,500 mobile phone masts stating that residential neighbourhoods and schools must not be exposed to the risk of radiation emitted by the Mobile Phone Base Stations that could cause cancer, miscarriages, and could even drive people to suicide’.

The Debate has been hotting up

On May 28th 2008 even Larry King became involved, interviewing the widow of the late high profile lawyer Johnny Cochran (he defended O J Simpson and Michael Jackson amongst others) and asking the question, Do mobile phones cause cancer? (Click here for show transcript)

The debate was extended to a second show and even a Senate hearing. (Click here)

Events have become even more high profile in the USA now that the much admired Senator Edward Kennedy has died from a brain tumour.

The TV show seemed to answer the question about cancer dangers and mobile phones when it interviewed (all the way from Australia - on the
telephone)  Dr. Vini Khurana, associate professor of neurosurgery at the Canberra Hospital, who commenting on his assertion that ’the danger of cell phones could have far broader health ramifications than asbestos and smoking said I base it on the fact, Larry, that at this point in time, there’s just over three billion users of cell phones worldwide. So that’s half of our world population, or almost half.

We’ve reached saturation point. For example, in Australia, there are 22 million cell phones and 21 million people. And the concern is not just brain tumours, but other health effects associated or reported to be associated with cell phones, including behavioural disturbances, salivary gland tumours, male infertility and microwave sickness syndrome.

The Interphone Study

The World Health Organisation set up the 13 country Interphone study in 1999 to answer the question about mobile or cell phones and the risks of brain tumours once and for all. In particular they were to look at long-term (10 years and over) use.

Except the report was delayed and delayed, prompting many an independent expert to cry ’foul play’.

Indeed a number of scientists broke ranks with their section of the findings:

Australian scientists reported that there definitely did seem to be concerns with mobile phone usage for more than 10 years.

The UK Times newspaper (20th January 2007) asked ’Could these be the cigarettes of the 21st century? (It’s a thought we have used ourselves in icon previously.) BBC Breakfast news also picked up on it. The man who heads the UK Governments mobile safety research was worried. While several studies in the past 12 months have seemed to provide an all clear for mobile phones when used in the short to medium term, there is no such evidence for their safety with longer-term usage. Professor Lawrie Challis was clear, You can look at almost any cancer where you know what caused it and you find absolutely nothing for ten years. Challis alluded to hints of concerns. And well he might.

In the prestigious International Journal of Cancer, epidemiologists from 5 European countries reported that there was a 40 per cent increase in gliomas amongst those people who have used a mobile for over ten years! 521 cases of glioma had been followed.

The Swedish team has found in their part of the Interphone study that there is a doubling of acoustic neuroma, and this is in line with their previous findings in 2000. Anssi Anvinen, the Professor in charge of the Finnish study is also finding much the same.

Now the Australians seem to be in agreement too.

The Independent experts who produced ’Cellphones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern. Science, Spin and the Truth Behind Interphone’
said there was little point in waiting for Interphone anyway:  ’The Interphone study, begun in 1999, was intended to determine the risks of brain tumors, but its full publication had been held up for years. Furthermore, they claimed components of this study published in advance revealed a ’systemic-skew’, greatly underestimating brain tumor risk.

The design flaws include categorizing subjects who used portable phones (which emit the same microwave radiation as cellphones,) as ’unexposed’; exclusion of many types of brain tumors; exclusion of people who had died, or were too ill to be interviewed, as a consequence of their brain tumor; and exclusion of children and young adults, who are more vulnerable.’

And when this tardy report eventually emerged, it vindicated mobile phones, and this conclusion was promptly reported in every medium available.

But truth will out.

WIFI and health risk

I have written separate articles on WIFI, which you can see titled on the left. If you are concerned about the lack of rigour in treating safety with mobile phones and masts, you should be very concerned bout WIFI which has been allowed to flourish with virtually no research to support its safety. I cannot believe that our children are allowed to sit in classrooms swimming in a soup of electro-smog. Those class rooms cannot, by law in the UK, sit in the main beam of a mast. But when Alastair Philips of Powerwatch, took his measuring equipment into primary schools for the BBC programme Panorama, he showed that the WiFi EMF’s were three times stronger than such a banned main beam.  

Double Standards

At this point, I’d like to introduce yet another thought into the mix. And that can be summarised by a quote I gave for the report:

In a world where a drug cannot be launched without proof that it is safe, where the use of herbs and natural compounds available to all since early Egyptian times are now questioned, their safety subjected to the deepest scrutiny, where a new food cannot be launched without prior approval, the idea that we can use mobile telephony, including masts, and introduce WiFi and mobile phones without restrictions around our 5 year olds is double-standards gone mad.

I speak, not just as an editor and scientist that has looked in depth at all the research, but as a father that lost his beloved daughter to a brain tumour.

As American Health guru Dr. Mercola says, ’That seems to sum up the problem really well’.

The Background

I must own up, right up front.  I helped launch Mercury 1-2-1 mobile phones in the UK.  I was chairman of the advertising and direct marketing agencies and I sat on the company’s launch business committee.

We asked then, back in the early nineties, about the lawsuits filed in the USA over mobile phones and brain tumours to receive a curt, ’Don’t ask’ reply.

Also, my daughter died of a brain tumour in 2004, aged 26.  It could well have been a complete coincidence that she seemed to live on her mobile phone.  Certainly when I asked her surgeon what he thought might have caused her brain tumour, the first words he uttered were, Well a lot of people think they are caused by mobile phones but thats a load of rubbish.  He rather spoilt this emphatic answer when about five minutes later he said, And anyway, when you get a tumour from a mobile phone it tends to be over one ear - Catherines tumour is not it is in the left frontal lobe.

I think I need to start off by saying a little about brain tumours: there are tumours, and there are tumours.  Some people have benign brain tumours, like acoustic neuromas.  These are not cancers, although they are indicative that extra-ordinary growth is taking place. Other people do have cancers, from grade 1 to 4. For example grade 3 astrocytomas, or highly aggressive grade 4 gliomas; like the one that took Catherine’s life.

In icon we have previously reported on a number of research studies, for example three by Hardell  using a digital mobile phone for over one hour a day increased the risks of a brain tumour by about 30 per cent and one by Mild in Sweden comparing over a thousand people and looking at cordless, analogue and digital phones. In 2005 one of their studies concluded that using a digital mobile phone for over one hour a day increased the risks of a brain tumour by about 30 per cent. As Roger Coghill puts it so wonderfully, Anyone who uses a mobile phone for more than 20 minutes, needs their head examined!

Using a digital mobile phone for over one hour a day increased the risks of a brain tumour by about 30 per cent

Dr Mercola goes further basically saying that if you rule out all the industry-funded research studies, and only look at the totally independent ones, you are left with a very simple conclusion: Mobile Phones are dangerous. And he is especially concerned over their use amongst the young. But then countries like Russia have banned mobile phone use by under 18’s in the same way cigarettes might be banned.

What’s safe?

The ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection), an NGO, is the dominant standard-setting body in the Western World, admirably working towards global harmonisation of standards.

However, many countries such as Russia, Poland, Switzerland, Italy and Austria plus most in the East openly say that ICNIRP guidelines are way too high and quite simply are not safe.  China, for example, refuses point blank to allow mobile phones as powerful as those in the UK, having expressed serious health reservations and backed them with research. Toronto has guidelines a mere 500 times less!

A major issue is that the UK guidelines are based on the heating, or thermal, effects of microwaves where penetration is inversely proportional to frequency and ratings are based on absorption. The fallacy, of course is that bioeffects may well not relate to mere absorption dose at all. There might be other minor effects at play such as free-radical production, immune system degradation and lowered melatonin levels but more of that later. With UK guidelines at least you know your ear wont catch fire.

All clear?

The history of mobile phone research has been one where the majority of the research has been funded by the (hardly independent or objective) mobile phone companies themselves.

In August 2005 the BBC, amongst many other UK media operators, covered the wonderful news that, Mobile phone use does not raise the risk of cancer, at least in the first ten years of usage.  The largest investigation to date shows this.  The research they were referring to came from the Institute of Cancer Research, which studied 4000 people in 5 countries (British Journal of Cancer).  A senior investigator added, Whether there are longer-term risks remains unknown.  Slightly puzzling was that the study, in my opinion, did not fully review brain cancer like gliomas and astrocytomas, rather it reviewed 678 people with acoustic neuroma, and 3553 without.  As we said above, acoustic neuromas are not cancer, although they can indicate possible developments.

In January 2006 came another major study (their words not mine) covered by all the British media proclaiming that, The use of a mobile phone, either in the short or medium term, is not associated with an increased risk of glioma.

However further analysis of the detail of the research by Powerwatch  6 (http://www.powerwatch.org.uk/), and the H.e.s.e-uk (Human, Ecological, Social, Economic project in the UK) - both completely independent bodies comprising world-renowned scientists, professors and experts - highlighted that several of the most important research conclusions were dubious.  Powerwatch stated that, most importantly, although drawing its conclusion about high-grade (fast growing) gliomas, the study sample excluded a large majority of them because, to quote the researchers, We only interviewed 51% of those patients with glioma who were eligible, mainly because rapid death prevented us from approaching all of them.

So the fact was that the research didnt include the 49 per cent of people who had gliomas so badly they were dying from them! Even so the researchers managed to conclude that mobile phones were not associated with increased risk of malignancy.

It is very disappointing that these well-respected scientists can draw such badly justified conclusions from their research, reports Powerwatch.

Poor Conclusions?

Unfortunately, the history of research studies giving mobile phones the all clear seems littered with similar accidental slip-ups and poor conclusions.

A  The Abstract


Part of the problem stems from the publication of an Abstract a summary of conclusions taken from the full report for PR and media use. Independent bodies are increasingly concerned by a tendency to spin the Abstract and leave concerning data to the research report detail. Unfortunately the media (and the Government) rarely look beyond the Abstract the Abstract may even be released several days before the full report, by which time the media have covered the story, solely from the information in the Abstract; and rarely do they correct it if some other fact emerges at a later stage from the full report.

1.8 times more acoustic neuroma were found after 10 years mobile phone usage 

For example, in October 2005 the International Interphone Mobile Phone Use and Health Study researchers failed to highlight in the research Abstract the finding that 1.8 times more acoustic neuroma were found after 10 years mobile phone usage, than during the 0-10 year period, even though this fact was present in the detail of the research. Rather in the Abstract it said that there was no heightened risk.

Eileen OConnor of RRT and founder of SCRAM (another body that constantly watches the accuracy or should I say inaccuracy of the conclusions and PR releases sponsored by the mobile phone industry) is concerned with all matters connected with the possible dangers of Electromagnetic Frequencies. In fact I am indebted to her because she had this article reviewed for me by some of the top experts in the world.

They add that this major 2006 study also failed to point out in its Abstract that significantly more gliomas were found in the brain at the side of the mobile phone use, than on the non-use side, although this was clearly the case in the research detail.  Instead the Abstract said that the people researched did not remember the side they used!

The researchers also wrote that radio frequency fields emitted by mobile phones are thought to be unable to cause malignancies by damage to DNA.  Well that was actually in direct disagreement with the findings of a number of already published studies where indeed DNA had been shown to be damaged by electromagnetic fields.  For example:
Lai & Singh (Washington State University, USA), Adlkofer (Reflex, EU), Zhengping Xu (China), Xu Xi Shan (Korea) amongst several others.

Now a new 2006 report published since the Interphone study from the department of Human Genetics, Guru Nanak Dev University in India has found a large increase in DNA damage and micro-nucleated cells in long term users of mobile phones.


B The Numbers


Another significant factor is the numbers involved in these studies.
Lets get it straight: Brain Tumours are rare. Brain tumours, both benign and malignant, have an incidence of 141 cases per million people per year in the US, of which malignant brain tumours total 73 cases per million people per year.

Think about it. If an epidemiology study reviews a million people across Europe and they rarely review even half that number using the above figures we are likely to only find 73 cases of malignant brain tumours. If you then try to assign subgroups (for example, by age) you could be looking at a group of just 10 per cent of this. 100,000 people, yes, but only 7.3 expected cases of a malignant brain tumour. Yet people jump up and down because the figure discovered in that subgroup rose to 8.4 or fell to only 6.2. The research may have covered 1 million people but we are expected to give credence to conclusions based on 1.1 people???

One Danish study using a cohort (all this means is a large population which is then studied) drew its conclusion from a massive total cohort of 420,095 people..within, which there was 11 malignant tumours recorded when statistically 12.8 would have been expected. So are we supposed to conclude from this that mobile phones actually reduce the risk of brain tumours? Now, what was that about lies, damn lies and statistics???

Better is a Case Control study where a person, say, with a brain tumour is matched perfectly (by age, lifestyle etc) to a person without. The person then completes a questionnaire to study for example their current, correct mobile phone usage patterns. However, rarely do these large Epidemiology studies use a questionnaire, rendering them virtually useless technically as pieces of research. Moreover, such studies simply did not take place ten years ago, the volumes of mobile users was not that great and it is almost impossible to draw accurate long-term conclusions about phones not increasing risks of brain tumours.

The length of phone usage is a factor much more important than many people seem to acknowledge. Many experts conclude that cancer is a long time in the making it may take 20 years or more. Yet digital phones have not been with us that long, their expansion (and that of all the paraphernalia that goes with them like masts etc) has been dramatic and yet research reports draw significant conclusions based on mid-term/long-term usage.


C The red herring?


Finally, what is this preoccupation with brain tumours? I for one have the right to ask this question. Even though I lost my daughter to a glioma, I am far more concerned about reports of severe headaches, tinnitus, increasing levels of sickness, blood infections, even depression coming from our police forces who use high powered Tetra phones, or reports of immune system and sperm count declines, or melatonin inhibition. These factors could be far more widespread and might be filling the doctors surgeries daily whilst massive amounts of money worry whether the numbers of brain tumours have increased from 73 per million to 74. I think the technical term is barking up the wrong tree or something about red herrings. I realise that my next comment is totally subjective but I feel I need to tell you that when I helped launch Mercury 1-2-1 they gave me one of the new digital phones. For ten years I ’lived on the phone’. But I was deaf in my left ear so I always put it to my right ear. Now I am deaf in my right ear, I have very blurred vision in my right eye and I get pains that simply feel as if I have been punched in the right eye. I have been to top doctors who say the eyeball is fine and it must be the surrounding tissue’. Of course, my mobile phone usage may have had nothing to do with these problems - but I am convinced it did.


Inconsistency rules

Phone2As we reported above, the UK Government set up a whole review process under the Chairmanship of Sir William Stewart. This group basically concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove a problem existed, but they did at least urge caution, an often-ignored fact. (I have actually been invited to join Sir Williams new panel).

However, in 2000, the same year that the Stewart Report was commissioned by the UK Government, T-Mobil in Germany (the Parent company of T-Mobile) commissioned a highly rated independent research institute, the ECOLOG Institute in Hanover, to review all relevant available research to date with regards to the health risks in the more general area of mobile telecommunications (for example, including long-term exposure to mast radiation). This review of over 220 peer-reviewed and published papers concluded, for example, that there was clear evidence of:


  • The cancer initiating and cancer promoting effects of high frequency electromagnetic fields used by mobile telephone technology.

  • Geno-toxic effects at power flux densities much lower than the guidelines, like single and double stranded DNA breaks and damage to chromosomes in experiments on cell cultures.

  • High frequency electromagnetic fields influencing cell transformation, cell growth promotion and cell communication. This also pointed to a carcinogenic potential of the fields used for mobile telephony.

  • Loss of fertility and teratogenic effects in animal studies.

  • Disruptions of other cellular processes, like the synthesis of proteins and the control of cell functions by enzymes.

  • Effects on the central nervous system, from neuro-chemical effects to modifications of the brain potentials and impairments of certain brain functions.

  • Loss of memory and cognitive function was demonstrated in animal experiments. From experiments with volunteers, who were exposed to the fields of mobile telephones, there is clear evidence for influences on certain cognitive functions.

  • Possible risks for the brain also arise from an increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier to potentially harmful substances, observed in several experiments on animals exposed to mobile telephone fields.

  • Disruptions of the endocrine and the immune system. High frequency electromagnetic fields were shown to cause stress reactions, showing up in an increased production of stress hormones and leading to a reduction of the concentration of melatonin in the blood of exposed animals and humans. Melatonin is a hormone and thus inter-reacts with your other hormones. Throw one out and they all go out. Melatonin has been shown to have effects on Prolactin, IGF-1 and Oestradiol. It is a powerful antioxidant and has receptor sites on cells. It is also involved in circadian rhythms it is a chronobiotic and it is able to retard the development of certain tumours.

A common observation in many of the studies was the importance of pulse modulation. Pulse modulated fields seemed to have a stronger effect than continuous fields and, in some cases, it was a pulse of a certain frequency which triggered the reaction while an absence of pulse or a pulse of a different frequency lead to less significant effects or no effect at all. All too often conclusions of safetywith mobile phones and masts are, sadly, based on measurements with a continuous field.

Perhaps because of its wider remit, the ECLOG report came to dramatically different conclusions to that of the Stewart Report and called for an immediate downward regulation of the power flux density that should be allowed by the guidelines, by a factor of 1000.

 UK guidelines are 3,300 and 10,000 uW/sq m but in Toronto the proposal is for just 6 and 10 respectively

To put that in context, the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) guidelines for the UK have gone up with the emergence of the new breed of 900 and 1800 Mhz phones to 3,300 and 10,000 uW/sq m respectively. As we said above, other countries find these levels too high. The US limits are 600 and 1,000 respectively, and whilst the limits in Canada are 600 and 1,000 respectively, in Toronto the proposal is for just 6 and 10 respectively.  Russia, Poland, Italy, China refuse to permit levels above 10 uW/sq m whatever the frequency.

Dr. George Carlo headed the wireless industry research team in the USA in the early 90’s and was funded to the tune of $28 million by the mobile phone industry. His work was monitored by Harvard University for accuracy. However, his discoveries alarmed him, and the mobile phone industry distanced itself from his findings. He then wrote a book entitled Cell phones - Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age and has founded a non-profit organisation, The Safe Wireless Initiative, to help inform the general public on the issue of mobile phones. I have corresponded with Carlo for this article and he even agreed to co-author it with me; sadly time prevented this. He believes there is a huge conspiracy afoot, with vested interests controlling the presentation of research conclusions and greatly influencing both a nave media and even Government policy.

This is not an uncommon view amongst a growing body of scientists, researchers and Professors; h.e.s.e-uk, for example, believe that mobile phones and wireless devices typify human invention running headlong and incautiously. We have introduced unnaturally coherent and structured electromagnetic fields at levels phenomenally above nature in a very short space of time. In doing so we have also created social dependency on wireless communication, at many levels. Control of this whole state of affairs is in economic terms, and science itself is beholden to economic and political interests.

Confused?

Well according to many critics, thats exactly what the mobile phone companies want. This is an industry worth billions, and one that provides very large sums, also running into billions of pounds, to Governments in taxes and licences. The UK Government took a mere 22.5 billion pounds when issuing three 3G licences for the new breed of mobile phones

It may be of no surprise to some readers to learn that the Interphone studies are funded by the EU. and the mobile Manufacturers Forum and the GSM Association.  The UK studies were funded by the Department of Health ..and five network operators. Indeed the majority of the research into phones/masts/mobile communications from Universities and specialist groups is funded by the mobile phone industry, which obviously has a very large say in the presentation of PR releases to the media.

Where is the World Health Organisation in all this? Almost nowhere. To date, the WHO has been largely disinterested in the whole topic of mobile phones and masts. However there is new management in place, so we will see if anything changes. The previous head of their Electromagnetic Field Department, Mike Repacholi, who was also the founding chairman of ICNIRP, recently left the World Health Organisation to work in the mobile phone industry.

So what do Doctors and Governments recommend?

Scientists and Governments all over the world have been at odds over the issue of mobile phones. But its not just the Chinese that think our mobile phones are unsafe.  Below you will find a leaflet and poster produced by The Chamber of Doctors in Vienna for the general public; It is totally clear about the hazards of mobile phones.

So is Lloyd Morgan, the Director of the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States. He states that, It is my contention, based solely on my reading of the scientific literature to date, that human exposure to cell phones poses a major health threat. They even have a presentation entitled Radiation causes brain tumors; from X-Rays to cordless phones. Their recommendations are clear:


  • Use a headset with a cell phone.  Keep them off, except when you wish to make a call or to find out who has called (a pager can be used for those that feel they must be reachable at all times).

  • Parents should deny use of cell phones to all children less than 18 years of age.

As we said at the start, the independent expert group for the UK government headed by Sir William Stewart said that, There was evidence that radiation from mobile phones could potentially cause adverse health effects and therefore a precautionary approach to their use should be adopted.

The UK Government currently advises mobile phone users to keep their call times short.  And children under the age of 16 should use mobile phones for essential calls only because their head and nervous systems are likely to still be developing.

In 2010 the French Parliament were seriously thinking about banning the use of mobile phones in state schools or, at most, allowing them only for texting.

The Cell Phone Programmer

In 1999 Sharesa Price thought she had a sinus infection.  Again.  But then she had a seizure and after a number of tests she was told she had a brain tumour.  After her surgery, Price started looking for answers.  She became convinced that exposure to radio-frequency radiation in her job had caused the tumour.  What was her job? She programmed cell phones for new customers in a phone centre. In October 2005 she sued.  She won.  Price may be the first person to convince an American judge that her illness was caused by cell phones, but the award of just $30,000 is unlikely to worry that particular company. However it might worry the industry, if it opened the floodgates to other claims and was used as a precedent.

So why don’t phone companies make shields?

As we have covered in icon before, when your phone is switched on and making a call, only about 10 per cent of the power actually powers the call.  The rest is induced into the nearest object: your hand, your head, whatever. VW ruled out in-car aerial systems for this very reason; the car became an induction system. Mobile phone companies definitely have been looking into developing safety shields, but the problem is that, unless they play that one very carefully, they could end up shooting themselves in the foot. As one expert said to me, If you need a shield, were the phones not safe in the first place?

Long-term dangers of cell phones

there was a doubling of glioma risk where mobile phones had been used for more than 10 years

A recent 2006 German study by Joachim Schuz and colleagues at the University of Mainz and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that there was a doubling of glioma risk where mobile phones had been used for more than 10 years. 749 brain tumour patients were compared with 1494 similar people who had not used mobile phones. So, back to Professor Lawrie Challis and his concerns that the long term issue may be a problem in waiting:  Powerwatch reported similarly in April 2006: The latest study on brain tumours and phone use shows the biggest increase of any study so far and is statistically significant in all areas. The new study on 905 malignant brain tumour cases shows a 1.7 to 5.9-fold increase in risk for long-term mobile phone and cordless phone users.

Phone3George Carlo highlighted for me the Swedish report in February 2006. This study by Dr. Lennart Hardell and colleagues showing statistically significant increases in the risk of benign brain tumours, especially acoustic neuromas, following the use of mobile telephones. He points
out that although acoustic neuromas are benign, they are considered to be a signal tumor for other types of malignant and benign brain lesions.  These tumours occur in areas with the highest radio frequency radiation exposure during calls.

Of primary concern is the finding that the greatest risk of developing these tumours was for persons who were first exposed before the age of twenty years.  Thus, this is the first published study directly suggesting higher risks of tumours among teenagers who use mobile telephones.

Higher risks of tumours among teenagers

The study involved the largest number of benign tumours ever researched and showed a dose-response relationship where a greater number of hours of phone use results in ever increasing risks of developing tumours. The more you use, the more you abuse. There was also significantly greater long-term risk: The report concluded that there was a statistically significant increased risk associated with having used mobile phones for more than 15 years, a finding consistent with other studies showing that risks dramatically increase after six and ten years of use.

Direct or indirect action?

And then I return doggedly to the question of which trees should we be barking up. Of course this is one of the biggest problems: does the induced radiation directly cause cancer, or indirectly affect some other health factor or factors in the body? Or both?

In the month of October 2005, the date of the first Interphone study above, Microwave News in the USA reported on new Chinese research that showed that even relatively low-powered RF radiation could lead to DNA breaks. The levels involved were far below the safe non-burning guidelines of ICNIRP.

In 2005 we covered other research in icons Cancer Watch showing that mobile phones carried on the body could reduce the immune response, and even a males sperm count!

The point is that any health scientist or researcher knows about EMF’s and their effects on melatonin.

A negative effect on melatonin levels

Anyone who read our piece on EMFs and melatonin disturbance will be aware that some frequencies of EMFs seem to have a negative effect on melatonin levels. And as we said above, melatonin plays a significant role in your general health, the strength of your immune system and the fight against cancers all over the body.

Melatonin also has a significant effect with cancer drugs, not merely reducing side effects but actually making some drugs more effective, as we have reported previously in icon. If you are a breast cancer survivor and taking Tamoxifen you might like to know of German research that reported recently on how a 12 mG low frequency magnetic field neutralised the ability of Tamoxifen to inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer cells.  My expert friends say that 12mG is quite a powerful force yet the low frequency magnetic pulses from a mobile phone held to your head exposes your brain to levels well in excess of 12mG. This was the seventh group to find similar effects, at a variety of power levels.

2005 and 2006 Brazilian studies 4,5 on absorption of mobile phone frequencies into skulls have shown that 11 year old children absorb up to 80 per cent more radiation than their parents and their cells are dividing faster, their nervous systems and brains not finalised, their hormone systems in a transient state, etc.

And therein lies another issue. The level of radiation of the phone may well be considerably greater than the SAR. Whats this? The Specific Absorption Rate is a measure of how much radiation from a particular model of phone actually enters the body and is worked out using a phantom head. But this assumes all bodies are equal, and they are not. Thinner skulls and smaller skulls, for example, plus a number of factors relating to tissue and bone differences can result in hot spots, something that rarely features in official calculations.

It is time to stop procrastinating: EMF’s are dangerous. Fact.

By now I hope you are clear that this is simply not an issue of do phones cause more brain tumours or not?And with an integrated network of WiFi across Britain (so that the lady over the road’s WiFi still talks to yours at 3 am when you thought you’d switched yours off), and 5G mobile phone services about to come to Britain with a booster cell tower ever 250 yards or so, what odds for the health of the young in the future?

At CANCERactive, as you may well know, we do not talk about a cause of cancer because we think it is rare that any one individual factor ever causes cancer as this approach is rather naive.  Rather there are a number of possible contributory factors, which may increase an individuals risk. But, where there is doubt and where there is quality research from expert scientists expressing concerns, we believe it is idiocy to wait and wait until something is 100 per cent proven or the mechanism fully understood. Frankly it may never happen.

Although unique in the UK, at CANCERactive we adopt a sensible, people-focused, precautionary principle in line with major charities and health bodies in other countries. And that is our stance in this area.

we certainly do not have an all clear on mobile phones

What is quite clear is that we certainly do not have an all clear on mobile phones, as the media reported extensively in 2006, and we do have sympathy for the critics who call for health warning labels on mobile phones, especially given the increasing teenage use in the UK. Interestingly the recent EU Assembly resolution included a statement to the effect that critics of mobile phones, EMFs and WiFi should not be targeted or harassed!!!

How can I use a cell phone yet protect myself?

Here are some thoughts:

1 Do not carry a phone that is turned on. You should only turn it on twice per day to pick up messages.

2 Try to use only the text facility.

3 Avoid having it next to your head while the connection is being made and when speaking. Use a phone with a built in loudspeaker there is some evidence that you can reduce your personal exposure by not having the phone anywhere near your head when the connection is being made, then pushing the loudspeaker facility as soon as it is connected exposure levels reduce geometrically; i.e. a doubling of the distance reduces absorption fourfold. There is also some evidence that headsets/bluetooth etc reduce personal exposure.

4 Do not use an in-car phone system, you may be surrounding yourself in electro-smog.

5 If you cannot use a direct internet connection and need WiFi, switch it on only when you need to use it. Always turn it off over night.   

6 Never put a lap top on your lap.

Of course, you can always choose not to use a mobile phone. But you have little say in the mast that is being put up near your childs school or even next to your home in the UK.  (See /page.php?n=208 for our 2003 report on Masts and how the parents of Valladolid in Spain won their case to remove masts from the local school - showing a link between the erection of masts and child leukaemia cases). Local councils in the UK, however, cannot use mere health-reasons as a criterion for turning a mast location down but thats a whole different bag of worms.

In a previous report I stated ’As an ex-marketing man and CEO, I cant help but feel that mobile phone companies are storing up problems for themselves. When the big lawsuits happened against the tobacco industry in the USA, it wasnt because smoking caused cancer, it was because there had been research indicating smoking might cause increased risk and the tobacco boys knew about it yet failed to adequately warn people. Surely it would be totally appropriate and highly responsible if the mobile phone companies took a precautionary stance themselves, for example adding an on-pack warning voluntarily? Something along the lines of mobile phones may possibly cause health problems, depending upon usage. Well, the warnings have now been issued: HEED THE WARNINGS!!!

As I said at the start 2010 and 2011 have seen a step change in EMF’s, mobile phones and cancer. Dubbing EMF’s a 2B carcinogen is just the start.

I personally feel that EMF’s cause illness and harm and I have done for ten years. I think the evidence on long-term usage of mobile phones and cancer is ever clearer. Personally, as a Biochemist with a good knowledge of cancer, I think that mobile phones, the masts and WIFI must be kept away from children, whose nervous systems and brains are still forming. As with smoking, there should be on-pack warnings, and restricted use by children (in this case under 21’s). As adults we have to be responsible for our own health, whether the issue is smoking or mobile phones. But I do find it ludicrous that the Governments of Europe can ban the sale of 5000 year-old herbs on the grounds that they may possibly cause harm, whilst allowing children to buy mobile phones or to be bathed in a sea of electro-smog at school or even at home. Our family home in the UK is detached, and at least 20 metres from any other house. Yet my computer records 4 WiFi’s impacting on my children while they sleep.

This is just a part of a much bigger issue that Governments have allowed to surface. EMF’s are clearly a group of Environmental toxins that have been allowed to grow unchecked. If Governments and cancer bodies are going to issue Press Releases telling us off - ’50 per cent of cancers are your own fault (because you smoke, eat badly, don’t exercise etc)’ as we saw in the UK in 2009 - it’s time the public turned on Governments and blamed them for subjecting us to the other 50 per cent - be they toxic chemicals, dangerous pesticides, untested GM foods or EMF’s. Vested interests clearly hold sway over public interest and that must stop. 

Mobile phones and cancer?  It’s your call.

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REFERENCES

1. 2004-2005, Primary Brain Tumors in the United States, Statistical Report, 1997-2001, Year Data Collected, p. 9; Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States (http://www.cbtrus.org/), 2004.

2. Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Jan; 113(1):1-5.

3. Pooled analysis of two case-control studies of the use of cellular and coreless telephones and the risk of benign brain tumours diagnosed during 1997-2003"; (International Journal of Oncology 28: 509-518,2006)

4/5. Comparison of Electromagnetic Absorption Characteristics in the Heads of Adults and Children for 1800 MHz Mobile Phones, Fernandez et al, Electrical Engineering Department, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, RS, 90035-190 Brazil.  Federal Centre for Technological Education of Rio Grande do Sul (CEFET-RS), Pelotas, RS, 96015-360, Brazil.

6. See also The Powerwatch Handbook by Alisdair and Jean Philips


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