A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

Ronald Herberman: Microwave News Article Archive (2004 - )

February 22, 2011

A well-regarded and influential team of researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Brookhaven National Lab (BNL) is on the brink of resolving a long-standing dispute with enormous implications for public health. In a paper due out tomorrow, Nora Volkow and coworkers are reporting that cell phone radiation can affect the normal functioning of the human brain.

Whether these short-term changes will lead to health consequences (and what they might be) is far from clear — though Volkow already has preliminary indications of a long-term effect. Nor is the mechanism of interaction yet known. But the new finding, if confirmed, would at the very least force a rethink of the prevailing orthodoxy, which maintains that low levels of RF and microwave radiation are too weak to have any effect and can be disregarded.

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.

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.

July 28, 2008

The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute's alert continues to attract media interest. CNN's Larry King Live has scheduled a new show on "Cell Phone Dangers" for tomorrow (Tuesday) night. (The last one was on May 27.) Sources at CNN told us that the guest list now includes: Keith Black, a neurosurgeon at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, Devra Davis of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, Paul Song, a radiation oncologist in Los Angeles and Ted Schwartz, a brain surgeon at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. The line-up may change before air time. Black, Gupta and Schwartz were also on the May 27 show. 

July 25, 2008

At this writing, Google News has a list of some 900 articles on the cell phone health alert issued by the University of Pittsburgh a couple of days ago. The Post-Gazette, the hometown paper, broke the story on the same day (it got an advance copy), and though some newspapers like the Baltimore Sun ran their own write-ups, the vast majority relied on the Associated Press for their coverage.

July 23, 2008

One of the hallmarks of the cell phone health controversy has been the silence of the U.S. public health communities. No medical, consumer, environmental or labor group has called for precaution, or even for more research.

The American Cancer Society, for instance, has adopted a what-me-worry approach. Indeed, CTIA, the industry lobby group, routinely refers press inquiries about possible health impacts to the ACS.

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