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A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

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News Center: Short Takes Archive

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May 18, 2012

We haven't posted many new items recently because we've been too busy fixing up the new Web site. In the process, we've been rereading many of our old stories. Last night, we came across an item from five years ago under the title "Cell Specific Responses to RF." It highlighted some new research from Finland, which found that cell phone radiation affected the activity of ODC, a biologically important enzyme, in primary, but not secondary, cell lines.

Primary cells are those taken from a live animal while secondary lines, or cultured cells, tend to be bought from a supplier. As the Finnish researchers pointed out, primary lines act more like cells in a live animal. That said, most people use cultured cells because they mulitply in the lab and are more likely to be uniform, and, perhaps most important, they are much easier to get.

At the time, we called the results "startling" because they could help explain why so much of cell biology on RF radiation is contradictory and hard to interpret.

In their paper, the Finns noted that the type of changes in ODC that they observed could indicate an impaired capability to "protect DNA from free radical attack." In the context of widespread concerns over cell phone-induced brain tumors and neurological disease, this, we would think, merited prompt attention.

Yesterday, we wrote to Jukka Juutilainen, a member of the Finnish team, and asked what had happened since 2007 when the paper was published in the International Journal of Radiation Biology. Not much, it turns out. "I am not aware of any attempts to follow up the findings," Juutilainen replied. "We still think the finding is interesting," he added.

The original work was funded, in part by the cell phone industry —the MMF and the GSMA.

April 12, 2012
Updated May 29, 2012

Mike Repacholi, the former head of the World Health Organization's EMF project, is blaming his former boss, Gro Harlem Brundtland, for contributing "massively" to people's fears of RF radiation from mobile phones.

While Brundtland was director-general of the WHO (1998 – 2003), she revealed that she was EHS or electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) (see MWN, M/A02, p.6 and M/J02, p.8). In an interview with reporter Thomas Ergo, published today in Aftenbladet, a daily newspaper, Repacholi calls Brundtland's disclosure "unfortunate." Repacholi does not believe that EHS is a real condition: He complains that he was barred from issuing fact sheets that said so by Brundtland's office. "If the science disagrees with the Director-General, then that was it. We could not do anything about it," he told Ergo.

Brundtland, a medical doctor who served as the prime minister of Norway for more than ten years in the 1980s and 1990s, declined to comment. (Maybe she will address EHS when she delivers a lecture on "The Importance of Public Health to Global Wellbeing" in Canada next week at the opening of the University of Waterloo's new school of public health. Maybe not.)

Henrik Eriksson of the U.K. group Mast Victims has posted a translation of the Aftenbladet article under the headline "Repacholi Attacks Gro Harlem Brundtland on EHS Claims." Also today, Aftenbladet, released a video of Ergo's interview with Repacholi (both are speaking in English). The headline runs: "I Offered To Examine Gro. But She Would Not Hear of It." (Google translation).

Ergo has also just published a 26-page article in the Norwegian magazine, Plot, titled "The Ridiculous and the Pursuit of Gro" (Google again).

April 13, 2012

In a follow-up article published today, Aftenbladet's Thomas Ergo quotes two senior Norwegian legislators who defend Gro Harlem Brundtland against Michael Repacholi's claims that her EHS  is a psychosocial response rather than a true medical condition. "I believe people who say they are allergic to mobile phone radiation," said one member of the Parliament's health committee. (Here's Henrik Eiriksson's translation of today's Aftenbladet story.

April 25, 2012

As it turned out, Gro Harlem Brundtland did discuss her EHS in Waterloo, Canada, on April 19 after being asked about it by Magda Havas of Trent University. This is part of what of what Brundtland said: "I have been heavily criticized as scaring people from using cell phones because I told the truth about my illness." (See Havas's full report.)

May 3, 2011

Thomas Ergo today ran a story in Norway's Aftenbladet based on Magda Havas's report from Waterloo.

May 29, 2011

Henrik Eiriksson has just released a full translation of Thomas Ergo's story in Plot, under the title "The Laughing Stock — and the Pursuit of Gro." It runs 23 pages and is available from the Mast Victims Web site as a pdf file or in other formats from Google Documents.

March 16, 2012

A paper on the effects of a mobile phone on the reproductive function of adult male rabbits, has been withdrawn by the International Journal of Andrology. In an advisory posted on March 14, the journal's editor-in-chief, Ewa Rajpert-De Meyts, states that Nader Salama, the lead author of the paper, requested its withdrawal. She cites three reasons: (1) "Lack of approval" by Salama's coauthors at the Tokushima School of Medicine in Japan; (2) "Lack of evidence to justify the accuracy of the data" in the paper: and (3) "Overlap" with two other papers by the same group. Salama is affliated with both the Tokushima medical school and the Alexandria Faculty of Medicine in Egypt.

Soon after the paper was posted by the International Journal of Andrology in December 2008, Alex Lerchl of Jacobs University and Christian Bornkessel of IMST, both in Germany, expressed "severe concerns about the validity of the exposure conditions and the reported biological effects" in a letter to the journal (open access). Though Salama and his Japanese colleagues stood by the paper in their response to Lerchl and Bornkessel (not open access), they have apparently now changed their minds.

Lerchl tells Microwave News that "other retractions will follow soon." In recent years, Lerchl has taken up the role of policing the EMF and RF literature to weed out what he believes is bad science and misconduct, with special if not exclusive attention to work that reports weak field effects. His most high-profile campaign was against Hugo Rüdiger's findings of RF-induced DNA damage, carried out in Vienna as part of the EC's REFLEX project. In this case, Lerchl failed to get Rüdiger's papers withdrawn (see "Three Cases of Alleged Scientific Misconduct").

The now retracted paper by Salama and colleagues is only a small part of the growing literature implicating mobile phone radiation in fertility problems (see "Keep That Phone Out of Your Trouser Pocket!").

March 15, 2012

A new study, out today, by a team headed by Hugh Taylor at Yale University has found that mice exposed to cell phone signals in the womb run the risk of altered neurological development and subsequent behavioral disorders. The paper is open access. For more on the new paper, see the write-ups from the Yale press office and IEEE Spectrum.

The Yale study lends support to the surprising finding, reported a couple of years ago that young children born to mothers who had used cell phones during pregnancy were more likely to have behavioral disorders, such as hyperactivity and emotional problems. That 2008 study was repeated by the same group in 2010 with similar results.

February 3, 2012

He's back. George Carlo, that is. Though not in the cell phone game, but baseball. Carlo has reinvented himself, this time as a brain scientist. He is now working with Brian Peterson, who calls himself the "Performance Enhancement Instructor" for the Detroit Tigers, according to the Web site Fangraphs. This is Peterson on Carlo's qualifications: "He's an MD, he has a PhD in pathology, and he also has a law degree. By trade, he's a brain researcher. George is a research scientist and an expert on how the body works in conjunction with the brain." That MD degree is news to us. Peterson might have added industry fixer and con artist to Carlo's résumé. After all he used to be a pitchman for BioPro, which sold useless gizmos that promised protection against cell phone radiation. And in the 1990s, Carlo ran the biggest scam of all, WTR, the CTIA-financed industry research program on cell phone radiation risks (see "WTR and the Betrayal of the Public Trust"). Twenty years later, no one yet knows what happened to the $25 million that was supposed to have been spent on health research.

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: “Weak Kilohertz Electric Fields Kill Tumor Cells”). Bill Doyle, Novocure’s chairman, describes how the treatment works in a lecture recently posted by TEDMED, an offshoot of TED, the technology/entertainment/design consortium. Take a look at the 16-minute video and see what might well be the future of cancer treatment.

January 18, 2012

Carl Blackman of the U.S. EPA has published an editorial comment accompanying the new Boris Pasche paper on modulating frequencies to treat cancer in the British Journal of Cancer. In "Treating Cancer with Amplitude-Modulated Electromagnetic Fields: A Potential Paradigm Shift, Again?," Blackman puts Pasche's new findings in context with the work on amplitude-modulated (AM) signals by Ross Adey and Suzanne Bawin from the mid-1970s, as well as Blackman's own studies from the same era. Blackman concludes: "The group of [Pasche's] three papers demonstrate a new, potentially important modality in the treatment of cancer that could lead to a paradigm shift in disease treatment. I hope that this medical application of AM-EMF will not be allowed languish without funding, as happened with its previous, ill-fated emergence." The editorial is open access, as is the Pasche paper.

January 7, 2012

The Observer in the U.K. is the first mainstream news outlet to cover Boris Pasche and Frederico Costa's cancer therapy that uses weak RF radiation to shrink liver tumors. The story was posted today by Robin McKie with the headline, "Hopes Rise for New Cancer Treatment After Tests with Electromagnetism." McKie includes a cautious assessment from Cancer Research UK, a leading charity and the publisher of the British Journal of Cancer. Pasche reveals that he has a go-ahead from the FDA to embark on large-scale trials —and that he is now looking for financial support. (See our earlier story on Pasche's TheraBionic therapy and "Specific Frequencies Block Growth of Cancer Cells," his most recent paper). January 8… Today, Sunday, the Daily Mail picked up the story from the Observer under the headline, "Hopes of Cancer Breakthrough with Treatment Using Electromagnetic Fields To Shrink Tumours.

December 6, 2011

Switzerland's Meike Mevissen and Chris Portier of the U.S. offer their insiders' acccount of last May's IARC search for consensus on the cancer risks of RF radiation in their article, "The Eyes of the World Were Upon Us." It's a serious look at the give-and-take among the 29 participants over the weeklong meeting (hint: they never mention pickled vegetables). Ten years ago, Mevissen and Portier were also members of the IARC panel which classified power-frequency EMFs as a "possible human carcinogen (2B)," the same designation assigned to RF last spring.

November 30, 2011

Christopher Ketcham, who made a splash early last year with his GQ piece, "Warning: Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health," is back on the EMF beat with a cover story in the latest issue of Earth Island Journal: "Warning: High Frequency." The first warning centered on brain tumor risks; the new one focuses on electromagnetic hypersensitivity. One quote from Carl Blackman of the U.S. EPA highlights how controversial the whole issue is: "With my government cap on, I'm supposed to tell you you're perfectly safe," Blackman tells [a woman whose family and farm animals are bedeviled with health problems after a cell tower was installed nearby]. "With my civilian cap on, I have to tell you to consider leaving." See also the accompanying comments by the editor of Earth Island Journal.

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