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A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

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2009 Articles

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December 18, 2009

Pity those who are trying to follow the cell phone–brain tumor story. Their sense of the cancer risk is most likely a reflection of the last thing they read or saw on TV —It all depends on whose sound bite they happen to catch.

Take, for example, a paper published earlier this month in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) by a team of Scandinavian epidemiologists, under a rather bland title — "Time Trends in Brain Tumor Incidence Rates in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, 1974–2003." But its message is anything but: Because there has been no increase in brain tumors between 1998 and 2003, a period when the use of cell phones "increased sharply," cell phones are cancer safe.

December 7, 2009

Bioelectromagnetics has posted “Comments” by Louis Slesin, the editor of Microwave News on the call to stop research on power-frequency electric fields by Leeka Kheifets and John Swanson (see “The Real Junk Science of EMFs”). The two electric utility insiders declined the journal's offer to respond. The comments are now on the journal's Web site and will be published in its February 2010 issue.

November 23, 2009

Three high-profiles cases of alleged lapses of scientific integrity have come to light over the last ten years. None of them is the same league as Leeka Kheifets and John Swanson's electric-field gambit (see “The Real Junk Science of EMFs”). Here's a quick rundown:

November 23, 2009

A decade after some of the world's leading epidemiologists agreed that exposure to power line EMFs could lead to childhood leukemia, the denial continues. Some people still believe that the studies that link EMFs to cancer are nothing more than junk science. Even those who should know better refuse to acknowledge the risks. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the association is so weak that it can be pretty much ignored, and the leading radiation protection group, ICNIRP, has refused to endorse precaution. Here in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scarcely acknowledges that EMFs are even a health issue.

November 6, 2009

De-Kun Li's new epidemiological study showing that extended exposure to weak magnetic fields as low as 1.6 mG (0.16 µT) can have negative effects on sperm quality was published today by Reproductive Toxicology.

"This is the first demonstration of a link between EMF exposure and the decline of semen quality," Li told Microwave News. The study, which was carried out in Shanghai, has important implications for overall fertility because approximately 40% of the Shanghai population is exposed to more than 1.6 mG for 2.4 hours on a daily basis.

October 28, 2009

Saturday's lead story in the Telegraph made believe that the U.K. daily had gotten hold of the much-delayed and much sought-after final results of the Interphone study — and that they showed that using a cell phone does indeed increase the risk of developing a brain tumor. Under the headline "Mobiles: New Cancer Alert," the newspaper proclaimed that, "Long-term use of mobile phones may be linked to some cancers, a landmark international study will conclude later this year." In its inside pages were a number of related stories, notably "People Must Be Told About Mobile Phone Dangers, Say Experts" and a sidebar about Larry Mills who had developed a tumor "exactly where he held the phone." The story was pitched as an "EXCLUSIVE" and was soon picked up by many other newspapers and Web sites.

October 14, 2009

A new analysis of already-published studies points to a tumor risk following long-term use of cell phones. This meta-analysis by a joint Korean-U.S. team of 13 past studies was published yesterday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Its conclusions support two previous similar efforts: All three indicate a 20-25% increase in tumors after ten or more years of cell phone use.

September 30, 2009

Mice that were placed under short-term stress before being exposed to UV radiation, a known cancer-causing agent, developed fewer skin tumors than those that just got the UV. These new findings from Firdaus Dhabhar's lab at Stanford University medical school were released by Brain, Behavior and Immunity a few days ago.

Dhabhar's study is the first specifically designed to test the hypothesis that stress can protect against tumors. But his results are eerily similar to those obtained in a set of $10 million animal experiments, known as PERFORM-A, that were supposed to investigate the cancer risks associated with cell-phone radiation. In each case, the animals were restrained inside plastic tubes: in Dhabhar's study to put the mice under stress, and in the PERFORM-A project to keep the animals in a fixed position in order to deliver a well-defined dose of radiation. And, in each case, the stress had a dramatic —and very similar— impact on the animals.

September 15, 2009

Yesterday's Senate hearing on Health Effects of Cell Phone Use, chaired by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), was a standing-room-only affair. C-Span has posted a complete video and transcript of the 105-minute hearing. (The Senate Appropriations Committee has also posted a video of the hearing.) The prepared testimonies of the witnesses may be downloaded from the Appropriations Committee Web site. There was a last-minute addition to the witness list: Harkin invited Olga Naidenko of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to testify. See September 10 for a list of the other witnesses. The hearing was requested by Sen. Arlen Specter. A third senator, Mark Pryor (D-AR), made a brief appearance.

September 10, 2009

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) has posted the witness list for next Monday afternoon's hearing on The Health Effects of Cell Phone Use. John Bucher, the associate director of the National Toxicology Program (NTP), will be first to testify. He will be followed by a panel of four: Devra Davis of the University of Pittsburgh; Linda Erdreich of Exponent, a consulting firm; Dariusz Leszczynski of Finland's radiation protection authority (STUK); and Israeli epidemiologist Siegal Sadetzki, a member of the Interphone study group.

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