Senior managers at the National Toxicology Program (NTP) released the preliminary results of their cell phone radiation study late last week. They were so concerned about the elevated rates of two types of cancer among exposed rats that they felt an immediate public alert was warranted. They considered it unwise to wait for the results to wend their way into a journal sometime next year. Not surprisingly, the NTP report generated worldwide media attention.
There were some startling reactions. Both the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Consumers Reports immediately shelved their long-held, wait-and-see positions. In a statement issued soon after the NTP’s press conference, Otis Brawley, ACS’ chief medical officer, called the NTP report “good science.” Consumer Reports said that the new study was “groundbreaking” and encouraged people to take simple precautions to limit their exposures.
However, much of the mainstream media saw it very differently. The Washington Post ran its story under the headline, “Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer? Don’t Believe the Hype.”