A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

Interphone: Microwave News Article Archive (2004 - )

March 9, 2009

Tired of waiting for Interphone? Thanks to Professor Bruce Armstrong, you can now get a good idea of what the final results will show. A world-class epidemiologist and the head of the Australian Interphone study team based at the University of Sydney, Armstrong has combined all the available results published to date and, in a 45-minute lecture, reviews and interprets the potential tumor risks. His meta-analysis includes the as-yet unpublished Australian Interphone data.

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.

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 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.

September 18, 2008

"Where is Interphone?" asked Ian Gibson, a member of the U.K. Parliament, at last week's Radiation Research Trust (RRT) conference in London. "Whose desk is it on?" No one offered an answer, not even Anders Ahlbom, a member of the Swedish Interphone group, who earlier that morning had given a talk on EMF epidemiology.

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.

August 1, 2008

The results of the Interphone study may finally surface by the end of the year. In an interview with Le Monde, published today, Elisabeth Cardis said the paper with the combined data from the 13 participating countries should be submitted for publication in September. If the peer-review process proceeds smoothly, it should then be available in the late fall. Cardis, the leader of the Interphone project who is now at CREAL in Barcelona, confirmed the schedule to Microwave News.

July 29, 2008

On tonight's Larry King Live, Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, called for the release of the Interphone study on the possible cell phone-tumor link. Here's what he said, according to a "rush transcript" from CNN: "I think we're going to have to look at the Interphone Study very carefully. For those listeners who don't know, the Interphone Study is run by the World Health Organization of the United Nations. It's actually been completed for about two and a half years and the people who actually ran the study have yet to publish it. There's a lot of discussions going on amongst those scientists as to exactly what the data show. And it would be really nice if it were published, I must tell you." 

June 29, 2008

The delay in the release of the results of the Interphone project is getting wider and wider attention. The International Herald Tribune will feature a story, "Rift Delays Official Release of Study on Safety of Cell Phones," tomorrow, Monday, June 30 —with a blurb for the piece on the front pages of both the European and Asian editions.

June 19, 2008

The divisions within the Interphone project are coming out into the open. As the delay in releasing the final results approaches the three-year mark, the tensions within the study team are no longer much of a secret. It's even becoming clearer who is in which camp —who believes that cell phones present a tumor risk and who thinks the phones are safe.

June 4, 2008

It was a "mistake," says Anders Ahlbom. That's how he explains why his "expert group" left out the Lahkola study from its report on important EMF developments in 2007 for SSI, the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority (see our March 14 post).

The Lahkola study points to a significant increased risk of brain tumors among long-term cell phone users in five countries participating in the Interphone project. This was a curious omission since two of the Lahkola coauthors helped prepare the SSI report. In a comment that has now been appended to the report, here's what Ahlbom, the chairman of the panel, wrote: "the paper was discussed by the group and was part of the basis for the conclusions. However, it was by mistake overlooked when preparing the report. The Expert Group regrets this accidental omission."

What's missing is any mention at to why two other Interphone studies (from France and Israel), which showed elevated tumor risks, were also omitted from this same report.

May 31, 2008

Some news notes on the Interphone study:

• Those who say there are no long-term cell phone risks often point to the Interphone study from Japan, published earlier this year, for support. As we have previously reported, the Japanese researchers said there was no association between cell phones and brain tumors, even though they found a close to sixfold increase in glioma among heavily-exposed users after ten or more years (see our February 15 post). That link was based on a small number of cases and was not statistically significant; the Japanese attributed the increase to recall bias. Bruce Hocking, an occupational and environmental health physician in Melbourne, Australia, suggests otherwise. In a letter published this week in the British Journal of Cancer, Hocking points out that the risk of meningioma (another type of brain tumor) is hardly raised at all (OR=1.14). He writes: "If recall bias is the true explanation for the increased risk of glioma, it should similarly have affected the meningioma group, but it has not. Therefore, the increased risk in the glioma group may be a true finding."

April 28, 2008

Another Interphone researcher is expressing concern over the tumor risks associated with the long-term use of mobile phones. "I think the evidence that is accumulating is pointing towards an effect of mobile phones on tumors," Professor Bruce Armstrong of the University of Sydney School of Public Health told "TodayTonight," an Australian current affairs show on Channel 7, a national network.

March 14, 2008

The Interphone saga gets weirder and weirder. The latest chapter comes with the release, earlier this week, of a status report on EMFs and health by the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority (SSI).

Recent Research on EMF Health Risks, the fifth annual report by an independent expert group, covers what was learned about various types of EMFs, from ELF to RF, in 2007. Here we address only what it says about the latest Interphone results —or more precisely, what it does not say.

February 15, 2008

If anyone is still not convinced that the completed Interphone study should be released as soon as possible (see our January 30 post), they need look no further than how the Interphone results from Japan were handled last week.

January 30, 2008

It's time to end the deadlock. It's time to release the results of the Interphone study, the largest and most expensive cell phone epidemiological study ever attempted. Any further delay would be close to scandalous.

A draft of the final paper with the combined data from the 13 participating countries was completed close to two years ago. One member of the Interphone team —Canada's Dan Krewski— has said that the holdup is due to disagreements over editing the manuscript, that is, changing a comma here or a comma there. We doubt that what's going on. Krewski told us this close to six months ago and the paper has still not been submitted for publication.

October 9, 2007

Why is the Interphone study not finished yet? "The interpretation is not straightforward," Elisabeth Cardis told Microwave News in an interview from her office at IARC in Lyon, France. The data are "very difficult to interpret because of the potential problems of recall and selection bias," she explained.

October 3, 2007

Interphone 2.0 is underway. This second phase of the Interphone project is investigating the possible link between brain tumors and occupational exposures to various types of EMFs —not just those from mobile phones— as well as to chemicals.

September 19, 2007

The French Interphone results are out and they are not reassuring.

The French study team, which includes Elisabeth Cardis, who is in charge of the overall Interphone project, has found high rates of brain tumors (gliomas) among heavy cell phone users. It's not a significant result, statistically speaking, but what is noteworthy is that this excess was apparent regardless of the way a heavy user was defined. As the researchers themselves put it: There is a "general tendency" for a greater glioma risk for "long-term users, heavy users [and] users with the largest numbers of telephones."

July 28, 2007

The "methods" paper for the Interphone study on mobile phone tumor risks has been posted on the European Journal of Epidemiology's Web site. The full text of the 18-page paper can be downloaded free of charge. IARC's Elisabeth Cardis is the lead author; she has 47 coauthors. There is still no word on when the long-awaited results of the study will appear —they were originally scheduled to be ready as early as 2003-2004.

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