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A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

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News Center: Main Articles Archive

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First Federal Agency To Acknowledge Risk Soon Backs Down

August 16, 2014
Last updated August 20, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention —CDC— is the first U.S. health agency to call for precaution in the use of cell phones.

(But not for long. As soon as word of the CDC’s new outlook spread, the precautionary advice was withdrawn. Our original story is below, followed by an August 20 addendum.)

“Along with many organizations worldwide, we recommend caution in cell phone use,” the CDC stated on its Web site’s FAQ About Cell Phones and Your Health and followed up with a call for more research to answer the unresolved cancer question.

Large Study Shows Recent, But Not Lifetime, Exposures Lead to Brain Tumors

June 30, 2014
Last updated July 5, 2014

Power-frequency magnetic fields can promote brain tumors, according to the largest epidemiological study of its kind ever undertaken. The study promises to breathe new life into the idea that extremely low frequency (ELF) EMFs are more likely to be cancer promoters than causes of cancer. This hypothesis gained support a generation ago but has lost currency in recent years.

The new results, published online earlier this month by the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, come from INTEROCC, an international project with seven participating countries designed to investigate occupational health risks from chemicals and EMFs. The project is directed by Elisabeth Cardis at CREAL in Barcelona with $1.5 million from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (though none of the tumor cases are from the U.S.).

The INTEROCC team found that those who were exposed to elevated EMF exposures at work during the five years prior to diagnosis had significantly higher rates of glioma compared to those who were least exposed during that time on the job. The greater the exposure, the greater the tumor risk.

Featuring Dan Krewski, the Royal Society and Health Canada

April 23, 2014
Last updated April 24, 2014

In 2011, Health Canada found itself in a tough spot. The public was becoming more and more uneasy over exposure to RF radiation from the proliferating number of cell phones, cell towers and Wi-Fi routers. After holding hearings in the spring and fall of 2010, Parliament asked the health agency to investigate whether its exposure limits —the Canadian national RF standard known as Safety Code 6 (SC6)— were too lenient and needed strengthening. Soon afterwards, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) added urgency to the assignment by classifying RF radiation as a possible human cancer agent, or, in the vernacular, a 2B carcinogen.

Health Canada’s dilemma was that it had no interest in tightening SC6. Yet IARC’s 2B designation could not be easily ignored, especially after France and Belgium, among other European countries, had responded by adopting precautionary policies. Last year, for instance, Belgium banned the sale of cell phones to children. How would Health Canada find a way to stick with the status quo?

The answer was to commission a review of SC6 by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC)

Industry Treads Water; Conflicts Abound

February 25, 2014
Last updated February 27, 2014

Five years ago we reported on what we thought was an important clue in the search for understanding the well-documented association between childhood leukemia and EMF exposure. A team based in Shanghai presented evidence that children carrying a genetic variation linked to DNA repair were four times more likely to develop leukemia than those without that genetic marker. We called the finding a “major breakthrough” and predicted, “It simply cannot be ignored.”

We were wrong. So wrong.

What happened next —or rather, what did not happen— sheds light on why EMF research treads water and never moves forward.

Video Illustrates the Wonders of Nature and Teaches Us a Lesson About Our EM World

January 7, 2014

When asked what he had learned about God from his studies of evolutionary biology, J.B.S. Haldane replied that the Creator has “an inordinate fondness of beetles” — after all, there are 400,000 different species of beetles and only 8,000 species of mammals. Take a look at this video and you might wonder whether red foxes are another of God’s favorite creatures. (Be sure to watch the clip in full screen mode.)

The red fox hunts by jumping up in the air and diving for its prey. As the narrator tells us, the fox can locate a mouse even when hidden under a deep pile of snow. It’s tempting to attribute a fox’s success to a keen sense of hearing or smell, but it turns out to be more complicated than that. A German-Czech team of researchers has found that red foxes have an added advantage: They can use the Earth’s magnetic field to home in on their target.

Danish Cancer Society Plays Games with Brain Cancer Rates

December 13, 2013
Last updated June 3, 2014

Just over a year ago, the Danish Cancer Society (DCS) issued a news advisory with some alarming news: The number of men diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most malignant type of brain cancer, had doubled over the last ten years. Hans Skovgaard Poulsen, the head of neuro-oncology at Copenhagen University Hospital was quoted in the release as saying that this was a “frightening development.”

At the time, Christoffer Johansen, a senior researcher at the DCS told us: “I think the data is true and valid.” And Joachim Schüz, a long time collaborator of Johansen’s at the DCS who is now at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon told Microwave News that the news was “indeed a concern.” He said that he could not explain it. (See our report here.)

After that, there was silence.

The Melatonin Hypothesis Revisited

September 25, 2013
Last updated October 7, 2013

"Now it is enough!" claims Maria Feychting of Sweden's Karolinska Institute. Feychting wants to stop wasting money on any more epidemiological studies of breast cancer risks from power-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF EMFs).

"We can be confident that exposure to ELF magnetic fields does not cause breast cancer," she writes in an invited commentary published last week in the influential American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE). Feychting's call to stop research was prompted by a new study of breast cancer among Chinese textile workers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, which found no association with ELF magnetic field exposures. Feychting's confidence is based in large part on the exposure assessment used in the textile study, which, she believes, was "better than in previous studies."

If Feychting's call to halt research is heeded, she will have shattered a key driver for EMF–cancer research that has held sway for the last 25 years: the melatonin hypothesis.

Fourth Study To Show Tumor Link
Is This Really Prospective Epidemiology?

May 10, 2013
Last updated October 6, 2013

A new study from the U.K. is adding support to the still controversial proposition that long-term use of a cell phone increases the risk of developing acoustic neuroma, a tumor of the auditory nerve. No higher risk of glioma or meningioma, two types of brain cancer, was observed.

Women who used a mobile phone for more than ten years were two-and-half-times more likely to have an acoustic neuroma than those who never used a phone. The finding is statistically significant. This is the fourth epidemiological study that shows an association between long-term use of a cell phone and acoustic neuroma.

An Industry Insider Speaks Out

April 2, 2013
Last updated November 11, 2014

The Federal Communications Commis- sion (FCC) has never levied a fine against a cell phone company for exceeding its RF exposure limits from a base station antenna.

That's not because all of the 300,000 cell sites in the U.S. comply with the FCC rules, according to an Industry Insider with years of training and experience measuring RF radiation. He told us that he has found RF levels higher than those allowed under the FCC rules at sites across the country. The real reason there have been no fines, he said, is "because there's collusion between the companies and the government." The insider, an RF engineer, calls himself "EMF Expert"; he asked that his real name not be used.

"The carriers and the FCC have an extremely cozy relationship," said the engineer. "Whenever there's a problem, someone in the FCC's RF safety office warns the carrier and the company then puts the 'fire' out."

Squashing the Cheshire Cat 

March 12, 2013
Last updated July 18, 2014

Lucas Portelli just ran over the Cheshire cat. He didn't know it was there. He's too young to appreciate how this fictional feline has held sway in the EMF-health controversy.

A little background for newcomers: the Cheshire cat is a metaphor for the lack of reproduciblity of EMF effects observed in some laboratories —but not others. It’s a favorite of those who see the study of EMFs as pathological science. The effects come and go, like the Cheshire Cat. Sometimes you see them, sometimes you don’t. EMF effects are not thought as being robust. Or more plainly, they are not to be believed.

But what if there was an unregognized confounding factor that was playing havoc with the EMF experiments? Portelli may well have found such a confounder.

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