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A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

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News Center: Main Articles Archive

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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.

August 18, 2009

Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) will hold a hearing on cell phones and health on September 14. So says Devra Davis, an activist scientist at the University of Pittsburgh. If Specter follows through, it would be the centerpiece of a conference she is organizing that week in Washington, as well as a triumph for Davis herself. She is on a mission to make cell phones a more visible public health issue in the U.S. and to secure funding for a major research program. It would be the first time in more than 30 years that the U.S. Senate has addressed RF/microwave health risks.

Once Again, Australia’s Aitken Sees DNA Damage

August 16, 2009

It's the strongest warning yet. John Aitken, a well-known fertility researcher, is advising men who want to have children not to keep active mobile phones below their waists. This issue, he says, "deserves our immediate attention."

July 29, 2009

A consensus has emerged in France that the national RF research program should cut its ties to the mobile phone industry. Manufacturers and operators would however continue to help pay for health and environmental research. This new outlook emerged from a month-long (April 23–May 25) review (round table) of government policies on RF radiation with the participation of no fewer than three cabinet ministers —for health, environment and the digital economy.

July 22, 2009

In a just-released commentary, Ken Rothman, one of the best-known names in epidemiology, explores two of the most contentious issues related to mobile phone health risks: (1) If cell phones do lead to an increased incidence of brain tumors, when would we expect to begin to see it? And (2) How do we explain the differences between the findings of the Interphone project and those of Lennart Hardell's research group?

Rothman's commentary accompanies ICNIRP's review of the mobile phone epidemiological literature (see July 14, below). Both will appear in the September issue of Epidemiology. Advance copies have been posted on the journal's Web site. Rothman's commentary is a free download.

July 14, 2009

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has released two new reviews on RF radiation: (1) Exposure to High-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields, Biological Effects and Health Consequences (100 kHz-300 GHz), and (2) Epidemiologic Evidence on Mobile Phones and Tumor Risk: A Review."

The first is a 372-page review that addresses all aspects of RF interactions, from dosimetry to in vitro and in vivo experiments to epidemiological studies. It was prepared by the full commission and its advisory committees. The full text of the report is available at no charge from the ICNIRP Web site. Here is the conclusion on the plausibility of non-thermal effects:

July 7, 2009

Last month, Margaret Hamburg, the new commissioner of the FDA, and Joshua Sharfstein, her principal deputy commissioner, published a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine under the title, "The FDA as a Public Health Agency." Here is a short excerpt:

"[O]ne of the greatest challenges facing any public health agency is that of risk communication. … The FDA's job is to minimize risks through education, regulation, and enforcement. To be credible in all these tasks, the agency must communicate frequently and clearly about risks and benefits —and about what organizations and individuals can do to minimize risk. When, like the FDA, Americans must make choices about medication, devices, foods, or nutrition in the absence of perfect information, the FDA cannot delay in providing reasonable guidance —guidance that informs rather than causes unnecessary anxiety. For these communications to have credibility, the public must trust the agency to base its decisions on science."

The full article is open access —that is, it's available at no charge.

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