A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

brain tumors: Microwave News Article Archive (2004 - )

March 9, 2012

A new analysis from the U.S. National Cancer Institute has found that the rates of brain tumors (glioma) in the United States are inconsistent with the results of Lennart Hardell's group in Sweden. The NCI team, led by Mark Little, does allow that "the U.S. data could be consistent with the modest excess risks in the Interphone study."

January 31, 2012

“I am the happiest man alive,” says Robert Dill-Bundi, the Swiss Olympic cycling champion. Dill-Bundi developed a glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive, usually fatal, type of brain tumor, but is still alive years after being treated with electric fields. The therapy was developed by Novocure, an Israeli company (see: ...

July 29, 2011

We pose two questions about the new children's study on cell phone tumor risks, known as CEFALO:

(1) How many of the health and science reporters who filed stories actually read the paper beyond the press release and abstract? An even cursory look at the paper would have tipped them off that there was something...

July 27, 2011

Here's the golden rule for all cell phone cancer studies: Nothing comes easy.

The first study to look at brain tumors among children and teenagers who have used cell phones came out today and it shows no increased risk. Well, actually, the study, known as CEFALO, does indicate a higher risk —the problem is that it found a higher risk for all the kids who used a phone more than once a week for six months, regardless of how much time they spent on the phone. Because the risk does not go up with more use, the CEFALO team argues that the results argue against a true association.

July 6, 2011

The battle over Interphone continues. This time it's in full public view as key players publish papers detailing where they stand on cell phone tumor risks. There haven't been any big surprises since their opinions have long been known. Yet, the diametrically opposing views have led to conflicting stories in the media as each new study is released.

June 16, 2011

Who wouldn't be confused? Here's a headline from today's U.K. Daily Mail: "Mobile Phones May NOT Increase Cancer Risk as Most Brain Tumours 'Not Within Radiation Range'." Yet, just two days earlier, it gave its readers a very different message: "Number of People with Brain Cancer Could Soar 20-Fold in 20 Years Because of Mobile Phones, Experts Warn." These opposing stories stem from the two...

June 10, 2011

The Interphone RF–brain tumor location paper from Elisabeth Cardis's group was posted today on the Web site of Occupational & Environmental Medicine. This is the paper that was given to the IARC RF group just in time for the meeting. Here's the key conclusion: "Our results suggest that there may be an increase in risk of glioma in the most exposed area of...

June 9, 2011

The Interphone RF–brain tumor location paper from Elisabeth Cardis's group was posted today on the Web site of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (OEM). This is the paper that was given to the IARC RF group just in time for the meeting.

Here's the key conclusion: "Our results suggest that...

April 18, 2011

A system to treat brain cancer with 100-200 kHz electric fields has been approved by the FDA. The device is made by Novocure. Here is the company's press release announcing the news. And here is a link to a story about the the device, we ran in Microwave News close to four years ago.

March 3, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, the University of Manchester in England issued a press release on a new paper on brain cancer trends in the U.K., under the headline, "Mobile Phone Use Not Related to Increased Brain Cancer Risk." Clear and catchy — but wrong. Frank de Vocht and two collaborators actually saw a statistically significant...

June 30, 2010

Users of cell phones have another reason to be cautious. An Austrian team has found that the risk of developing tinnitus, a ringing in the ears, doubled after four years. This is one of the first epidemiological studies to investigate the long-term effects of mobile phones on hearing.

Hans-Peter Hutter of the Institute of Environmental Health at the Medical University of Vienna, and coworkers report that the observed association is "unlikely" to be spurious and could have important implications for public health. Their new epidemiological study, based on 100 cases and 100 controls, will appear in an upcoming issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

May 17, 2010

An essential part of the Interphone story is Appendix 2. Although not included in the paper, it offers a way to look at the risks free of some of the bias that so muddled the published results. It also provides a window on the controversy that deadlocked the Interphone group for four years.

There is a general consensus that the large number of abnormally low risks observed in Interphone is a sign of a systematic problem —selection bias— in the way that the study was carried out. As the Interphone group acknowledges, it is "unlikely" that cell phones could immediately provide protection against brain tumors (see main Interphone Story).

April 14, 2010

Men's Health has gotten into the act too. The May issue offers its take on cell phone radiation health risks with "Is Your Life on the Line?" by Paul Scott. He covers much of the same ground as Nathaniel Rich in Harper's —except his is shorter. Like Rich, Scott begins with the story of Lloyd Morgan, a brain tumor survivor and cell phone activist, who, Scott says, "has made it his mission to spread the message that cell phone radiation is carcinogenic."

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.

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.

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.

September 2, 2008

While we were away on a summer break, another Interphone paper was released online: An analysis of the incidence of meningiomas (brain tumors) among cell phone users in five Northern European countries. It comes from the same teams that have previously reported increased risks of both glioma (another type of brain tumor) and acoustic neuroma (a tumor of the acoustic nerve) among long-term users.

June 3, 2008

Today's New York Times features a column by Tara Parker-Pope on cell phones and brain tumors, "Experts Revive Debate Over Cellphones and Cancer." As of this afternoon, it is the most popular story (most e-mailed) on the Times Web site.

May 29, 2008

Next-Up, the European activist group, has posted the entire Larry King Live show, "Cell Phones: Are They Dangerous?," on its Web site. Only the ads are missing. Click here to see the 44-minute video. A transcript is also available.

June 15, 2007

It’s become axiomatic that wide acceptance of non-thermal effects will come from developing biomedical therapies rather than from studying potential hazards. The health effects work is mostly sponsored by those who don't want to find any. And they usually don't (cf: the USAF, EPRI, CTIA, FGF, MMF, etc.) So no one should be surprised that the latest advance comes from a small high-tech Israeli company, Novocure, which is looking for innovative ways to treat cancer. It's a breakthrough —most likely a major breakthrough.

Novocure uses weak 100-200 kHz electric fields —the company calls them tumor treating fields or TTFields— to stunt the growth of cancer cells, either by slowing down their proliferation or by killing them off entirely. The company has now demonstrated this in four different cancer cell lines. Even more impressive is that tumor growth has been curtailed in mice, rats and, in a small pilot project, ten human patients with recurrent brain tumors (glioblastoma).

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