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David W.

I wouldn't get too worried just yet about a RF-induced cancer scare, which to me verges on woo. Here's more on the matter for you to check out:

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/03/mobile_phone_companies_tobacco_companies.php

Ian

Hmm. I recall there being some scare stories in the more excitable papers here a few years ago, mostly relating to Wi-Fi in schools. It was something of a short-lived thing though, and seemed to be fuelled by people who had consulting services and tin-foil shields to sell.

Still, that doesn't automatically mean that they were wrong, as only a good number of well-designed long-term studies could ascertain whether any of this stuff actually does cause harm. You could run a few queries through PubMed and see what comes up, I guess...

Ibod Catooga

Cell phones and wi-fi emit non-ionizing radiation in very small amounts that is not very penetrative (which is why it's often hard to get a cell-phone signal indoors).

Non-ionizing radiation means that the radiation doesn't have enough power to knock out electrons from atoms and molecules. While non-ionizing radiation can have some mutagenic properties at very, very high levels, the radiation from a cell phone or wi-fi transmitter is several dozen orders of magnitude too small to even worry about. At those low levels, there is no known physical process that can cause even an increased cancer risk.

In other words, it's all a bunch of crap, bred of fear of new technology, in combination with attention-seeking and psychological problems.

You're far more likely to experience DNA problems due to a stray, high-energy cosmic ray that penetrates the magnetosphere.

While I am willing to re-consider these conclusions if any evidence came to light that very low levels of non-ionizing radiation do in fact turn out to be mutagenic, if cell phones did indeed cause cancer, we've had them for long enough now that brain cancer incidences should have gone through the roof in the last decade. And that is especially true as the older, worse cell phones emitted far more radiation than modern ones -- so there should have been a huge initial spike, and then a decrease.

The statistics do not bear out this conclusion.

So, if there is any danger, it is so small as to be statistically undetectable. You should be more worried about getting in your car and driving somewhere.

Doug K

remember that the radio and TV broadcasts have significantly more power than wifi and cell phones. We've been bathed in those transmissions for decades now without problems. There isn't a scintilla of evidence that wifi is harmful.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/
WHO is supposed to be releasing the results of some long-term studies this year, so this may change, but I'd be very surprised if it did.


Ken Muldrew

Good thing we don't put wires running alternating current in the walls of our houses and run enough power through them to bathe ourselves in electromagnetic radiation that is thousands of times more intense than wifi and cell signals. That would really be dumb.

Gary Farber

You want to worry about radiation, setting aside possible radon in basements, worry about that huge ball of radiation in the sky, which gives countless people skin cancers.

Rana

I agree with Ibod. Automobile accidents are far more likely to take us out.

If you want to worry about cancer, though, focus on the lovely plethora of carcinogenic chemicals that we breathe in and ingest every day. I think strawberries and fabric softener are far more dangerous, cancer-wise, than a cell phone or wireless network.

John Casey

"I compare it to cigarettes and asbestos," said Kopald, a Harvard- and MIT-educated former business consultant, about the health hazards.

The trouble with that line is that there are known biological mechanisms for going from irritant to cancer. As noted above, not so for non-ionizing radiation.

Elyse

"Ibod Catooga" is completely wrong. First of all, let's consider his point that we would have seen problems already: the latency period on exposure to carcinogens is often 10-30 years-- think cigarettes and asbestos. So if there is going to be a brain cancer wholesale epidemic, it won't have started to hit yet necessarily as cell phone use only started to become widespread 12-14 years ago.

That said, increases in brain tumors have started to show up. The Bioinitiative Report says that kids who regularly use cell phones before age 20 will have a 500% increased risk of getting brain cancer. Already, the Israeli Dental Association has linked salivary gland tumor increases to regular cell phone use (60% increase in adults).

The REFLEX studies in Europe found that regular cell phone users had 40% micronucleation in their mouth tissues (micronucleation=precursor to double DNA breaks= likelihood of cancer formation) while people who don't use cell phones only had 4% micronucleation-10 times less. Keeping a cell phone at one's belt level has been scientifically linked to lower sperm counts.

Neuro-oncologist Leif Salford has exposed rats to cell phones and found brain cell death within 2 hours. This kind of brain cell death is associated with dementia. Studies have come out in Denmark linking a pregnant woman's cell use and kid's cell use to ADHD. A Russian study by Yuriy Grigoriev is expected out in 2010 and will show seriously degraded school performance by kids who regularly use cell phones.

Meanwhile, studies have linked proximity to cell towers with cancer increases and a Latvian and Swiss study showed health problems including memory and concentration losses in students who lived or went to school near these transmitters.

The point is there are other things that can happen to your brain besides tumor formation by long-term exposure to non-ionizing microwave radiation. If cognitive problems are already being documented, and levels much lower than the radiation emitted by cell phones are enough to change your brain wave patterns, do you really want to go by Ibod's conjecture that nothing seems to have happened so far?

Ibod also makes the point that newer models of phones emit less radiation. That is true of some models in the U.S. but not of others including most Blackberries, the Motorola Droid and the LG Chocolate Touch which emit the maximum levels allowed in the U.S- 1.6 w/kg (15 times more radiation than some of the lower emitting phones- some Samsungs and the E-Tech Duet.)

But take Europe, for example. The REFLEX studies have shown that the new 3G phones are 10 times more genotoxic than the old European 2G phones. But the new phones emit 10 times LESS radiation! Scientists speculate that the effects are correlated as much with the frequencies emitted as with the actual radiation output. In the case of the 3G phones, scientists believe the waves emitted may be resonant with human brainwaves and cells and hence more harmful than their higher radiation predecessor phones which operated at different frequencies.

So Ibod's contention that people who have these concerns have "psychological issues" can be dismissed with the hard, empirical evidence. As for studies that show biological effects at levels LOWER than cell phone towers and Wi-Fi, there are thousands of such studies. Here is a sampling:

http://www.wave-guide.org/library/studies.html

If Ibod would like to cling to his belief system, perhaps he will be weeded out of the gene pool. Meanwhile, as long as he is around to spread his views, I suggest your readers research very carefully before assuming it's perfectly safe for them and their children to chat at will with their cell phones pressed up against their ears.

Ibod Catooga

Elyse,

There is so little science in what you've said that it's like waving Harry Potter's wand and wishing it were all true.

Brain cancer incidences. Very flat. Notice that? Also, realize that detection rate has improved in that time.

Can you explain how non-ionizing radiation can cause DNA breaks? If so, being in a warm room would cause the same problems.

I'm all for further study. But there is no hard, empirical evidence of which you speak one way or the other. But there is plenty of evidence that non-ionizing radiation does not cause DNA damage. Read this as well, and be enlightened.

You're probably an anti-vaxer, too, right?

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