Friday, May 27, 2016

Major US Study Links Cell Phones to Cancer

A new report released by the US National Institutes of Health has reignited the cell phone/cancer issue. A major, multi-year study concludes that cell phone exposure is linked to two cancers, one a brain cancer, the other a heart tumor.

Researchers at the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), a federal interagency group under the National Institutes of Health, led the study. They chronically exposed rodents to carefully calibrated radiofrequency (RF) radiation levels designed to roughly emulate what humans with heavy cell phone use or exposure could theoretically experience in their daily lives. The animals were placed in specially built chambers that dosed their whole bodies with varying amounts and types of this radiation for approximately nine hours per day throughout their two-year lifespans.

“This is by far—far and away—the most carefully done cell phone bioassay, a biological assessment. This is a classic study that is done for trying to understand cancers in humans,” says Christopher Portier, a retired head of NTP who helped launch the study and still sometimes works for the federal government as a consultant scientist. “There will have to be a lot of work after this to assess if it causes problems in humans, but the fact that you can do it in rats will be a big issue. It actually has me concerned, and I’m an expert.”

The researchers found that as the thousands of rats in the new study were exposed to greater intensities of RF radiation, more of them developed rare forms of brain and heart cancer that could not be easily explained away, exhibiting a direct dose-response relationship. Overall, the incidence of these rare tumors was still relatively low, which would be expected with rare tumors in general, but the incidence grew with greater levels of exposure to the radiation. Some of the rats had glioma—a tumor of the glial cells in the brain—or schwannoma of the heart. Furthering concern about the findings: In prior epidemiological studies of humans and cell phone exposure, both types of tumors have also cropped up as associations.

In contrast, none of the control rats—those not exposed to the radiation—developed such tumors. But complicating matters was the fact that the findings were mixed across sexes: More such lesions were found in male rats than in female rats. The tumors in the male rats “are considered likely the result of whole-body exposure” to this radiation, the study authors write. And the data suggests the relationship was strongest between the RF exposure and the lesions in the heart, rather than the brain: Cardiac schwannomas were observed in male rats at all exposed groups, the authors note.


Lorne said...

I have been watching how the media is treating this report, Mound. It would seem that the powers that be are putting it into a context that suggests the risk is the same as being exposed to car exhaust and pickled vegetables. Hardly surprising, given that the big players are pretty powerful corporations, but for those who have lost family members to brain cancer (my brother-in-law, a heavy cellphone user and early adopter), there is no doubt about the dangers posed in spending a lot of time with the phone to your ear.

The Mound of Sound said...

Come to think of it, Lorne, I had a friend - an investment type at one of the big houses in Toronto - who also seemed to go around with his cell always at his ear. He too succumbed to brain cancer. I think he was around 62.

I acted for a number of airline pilots and that got me involved in some of their professional problems. Two of them were senior, widebody captains. They sought to be demoted to domestic shuttle operations so they could avoid the high altitude stuff where the exposure to intensive gamma radiation was prolonged on long haul flights. It was believed to have caused a high incidence of brain cancer among pilots in their latter years. We surface dwellers get shielded from it by all the particulate matter in the atmosphere above us but at high altitudes the shielding is negligible.

Kim said...

I'm in a dead zone. Telus came by and offered to attach a signal booster to my house. I smiled and said no thank you. When people come visit me, we are not interrupted. I see my grandkids playing casually with these devices and I shudder. My own son was not allowed to have a cell until he could sign a contract and afford a phone. Yes. 18 years old. I hope it helped.

The Mound of Sound said...

I have a cellphone but it's invariably for use in my car where it works with the onboard bluetooth system for hands free communication. I got it because my kids want me to have it - for emergencies - because, Lord knows, when you reach a certain age you're bound to start having emergencies, or so they imagine. I also carry it in the top case on my motorcycle while wandering up logging roads where I might actually have a problem (although there's probably poor to nonexistent service up there).

Anonymous said...

This is not new news.