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A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

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News Center: Main Articles Archive

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January 23, 2009

The new year brought two fresh initiatives to protect children from cell phone radiation. On January 7, the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) recommended that parents limit their children's use of mobile phones and, on the same day, the French government announced a series of environmental health proposals which includes a ban on cell phones designed specifically for children younger than six and of advertising that promotes the use of cell phones among those under 12.

January 16, 2009
Last updated November 25, 2015

Cell phones do not increase the risk of developing eye cancer, at least for the first ten years of use, according to a group of German researchers led by Andreas Stang at the Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg in Halle. This marks a reversal. Eight years ago, Stang reported a possible association in a smaller and less detailed study (see MWN, J/F01, p.9).

December 15, 2008

This could be a breakthrough, a major breakthrough. It could explain how power lines promote childhood leukemia. It could identify which children are at greatest risk. And it could shed new light on the pivotal role played by EMF-induced DNA breaks.

Chinese researchers have found that children who carry a defective version of a gene that would otherwise help repair damaged DNA are much more likely to develop leukemia if they also live near power lines or transformers. Xiaoming Shen and coworkers at the Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in Shanghai have reported that children with this genetic variant —known as a polymorphism or snp (pronounced "snip") —and who lived within 100 meters of these sources of EMFs had over four times more leukemia than neighboring children with a fully functional version of the same gene.

December 5, 2008

As the seemingly endless wait for the Interphone results drags on and on —the feud over the final results is now entering its fourth year— the BioInitiative Working Group is proposing a different approach: Each of the five participating countries that have not yet published their own data, either singly or in groups, should do so as soon as possible. The message is clear: If the members of the Interphone project cannot agree on how to interpret the combined results from all 13 countries, let others give it a try.

November 27, 2008

Science has conceded the error: More than one lab has in fact shown that cell phone radiation can cause DNA breaks. Back in August, reporter Gretchen Vogel claimed that Hugo Rüdiger at the University of Vienna medical school was the only one (see our September 3 post). Now, Vogel allows that a team from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, had previously observed DNA breaks in cells exposed to GSM radiation.

November 17, 2008

It's not just childhood leukemia anymore. Alzheimer's Disease is poised to take center stage in the long-simmering EMF-health controversy.

A couple of weeks ago, a group led by Martin Röösli at Switzerland's University of Bern reported that people living within 50 meters of a high-voltage power line were more likely to die with Alzheimer's. The longer they lived near a 220-380 kV power line, the greater the risk: After 15 years, the odds of dying with Alzheimer's were double the expected rate. It is this striking dose-response —with the risk increasing over time— that makes the Swiss study compelling. Röösli told Microwave News that he himself found the consistency of this increase "surprising." Other members of the Röösli team are Anke Huss, Adrian Spoerri and Matthias Egger.

October 20, 2008

A spate of spurious stories that were in the news last week needs to be aired and corrected. They also provide yet another reason to get the Interphone study out as soon as possible.

Le Soir, one of Belgium's leading French-language newspapers, kicked it off on the 15th. "GSM Is Carcinogenic" ran the headline at the top of its front page. The paper based its scoop on what it called the first results of the Interphone study, adapted from the latest project update, which had been posted on IARC's Web site the previous week. In fact, they were really old news. The last update, issued in February, had already included those results that point to a tumor risk —they were far from conclusive, however. As Elisabeth Cardis, the coordinator of Interphone, later confirmed to Microwave News, "There is nothing new in terms of risk in that [October] update." In two follow-on stories in its inside pages, Le Soir took a more measured tone, noting that these new "disturbing" results need to be confirmed. Cardis, now at CREAL in Barcelona, told the paper: "We must remain cautious in the interpretation of the Interphone results." Her words stand in contrast to the less than cautious warning on page one.

September 30, 2008

In many ways, last Thursday's Congressional hearing on cell phone cancer risks, called by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), brought few surprises. David Carpenter and Ronald Herberman made the case for precaution, especially for children, while National Cancer Institute's Robert Hoover countered that he is not persuaded that there's anything to worry about.

One piece of compelling news did emerge, however —though it never made it into the mainstream press: Brain cancer appears to be on the rise among young adults. Herberman testified that, on looking at government statistics, he was "struck" by the fact that the incidence of brain cancer has been increasing over the last ten years, particularly among 20-29 year-olds. If the latency for brain tumors is more than ten years and cell phone are in fact responsible for the increase, cancer rates might not peak for at least another five years, according to Herberman.

September 28, 2008

Are you confused about cell-phone tumor risks? Need a roadmap to the epidemiological studies? Want a handle on their strengths and weaknesses? Then read Michael Kundi's new review, "The Controversy About a Possible Relationship Between Mobile Phone Use and Cancer," in Environmental Health Perspectives. (EHP is an open access journal and all its papers are available for free.)

Kundi, an epidemiologist and the head of the Institute of Environmental Health at the University Medical of Vienna, is not totally convinced that there is such a link, but he is persuaded that it's looking that way. So far, Kundi finds, the epidemiological evidence points to an association of "moderate strength," similar to the one for passive smoking and lung cancer, and that there are as yet "no valid counterarguments and no strong evidence" to shake his confidence in a causal relationship.

September 26, 2008

This week's Economist features the harshest criticism of the Interphone project to date. Under the headline "Mobile Madness," the article charges that the "massive" study "has ended in chaos" —even before the final paper has been submitted for publication.

The magazine goes on to say that, because nine of the 13 participating countries have reported their findings individually, the public has been assaulted with a "farrago of misinformation." Nic Fleming, who wrote the unsigned piece, cites an anonymous source as saying that the relations among the Interphone researchers are "strained" (see our June 19 post). Indeed, except for a couple of quotes from Elisabeth Cardis, the head of Interphone, most of the story is presented without attribution.

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