News release precedes release of evidence on new cell phone/brain cancer warning

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The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published a news release (pdf file) today, stating:

“The WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.”

Read the analysis by Dr. Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society. He notes:

“Unfortunately, drawing broad and sweeping conclusions based on a press release and a news conference leaves many of us wondering just what the evidence shows that led to the conclusion announced today that “radiofrequency electromagnetic fields” may be possibly cause cancer in people….There is science behind the press release, but that science remains unknown to the rest of us until the actual research is published. In this case, IARC tells us a paper will be published “in a few days online” in the journal The Lancet Oncology. In addition, the references on which the IARC committee based its conclusion for the most part remain “in press,” which in simple terms means they have not yet been released for widespread review and comment.”

And see this story by MedPage Today.

ADDENDUM 3 hours later:

See Merrill Goozner’s piece, “The Role of Conflicted Science in the Cell Phone-Cancer Link.

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Gregory D. Pawelski

June 1, 2011 at 10:12 am

This does not prove that cell phones are safe. It may be as toxic as breathing vehicle exhaust. There are ways to reduce your risk of cancer. Less cell phone use and less sucking up vehicle exhaust.

Gregory D. Pawelski

June 10, 2011 at 12:01 am

There was an interesting posting on the Rational Therapeutic’s blog by Dr. Robert Nagourney about the cell phone controversy. The World Health Organization came out labeling mobile phones as a carcinogenic hazard. A team of scientists reported that the cumulative data supports this new designation of “hazard.”
Dr. Nagourney remembers that the University of Pittsburgh released a memo requesting that employees guard themselves against excessive cell phone usage. Much of that work reflected the efforts of Devra Lee Davis, PhD, who has worked tirelessly to promote this area of investigation. Indeed, Dr. Davis, who was at the University of Pittsburgh, spearheaded that effort as well.
The science of cancer causation associated with cell phones and related electromagnetic fields is still maturing. One fascinating presentation by investigators at Harvard and New Mexico suggested piezoelectric rectification as the mechanism. When collagen and other biological tissues respond to these resonant frequencies, heat is released. Yet, the piezoelectric effect is a non-thermal energy effect that might better explain the carcinogenesis.
Examinations of cell phone electromagnetic fields suggest the penetration of the signal several centimeters into the brain. While this is a real concern in adults, it becomes a frightening concern in young children, one of the largest growth segments in cell phone sales.
Dr. Nagourney feels it is not surprising to realize that sources of electromagnetic radiation can have serious consequences on our health. Life as we know it is dependent upon chemical energy. Influencing the charge and polarity of cells may adversely affect normal metabolism and signal transduction.
The take-home message is that cell phones do pose a risk, that the risk can be minimized by limiting exposure and that those strategies that put distance between the cell phone and the user’s ear are the safest. Speakerphones make more and more sense and the use of small earpieces would also be supported, for the field they generate is demonstrably smaller.
Finally, it would seem advisable to limit children’s use of cell phones to a minimum. Interesting perspective!