Insurers stop covering for cell phone use, called the next ‘casualty catastrophe’ after tobacco and asbestos; phone manufacturers hit with a class action and personal lawsuits; and the warning deep inside your mobile. Seek truth from facts with Ellie Marks, whose husband Alan is suing the industry for his brain tumor, ‘cell phone survivor’ Bret Bocook, leading radiation biologist Prof. Dariusz Leszczynski, Microwave News editor Dr. Louis Slesin, Storyleak editor Anthony Gucciardi, and former senior White House adviser Dr. Devra Davis
by Brad Jacobson
In her 2011 book Disconnect, National Book Award finalist, former senior White House health advisor and internationally regarded epidemiologist Devra Davis revealed that the cellphone industry is knowingly exposing us to dangerous levels of electromagnetic radiation. No small problem when you consider that of the roughly 7 billion people on this planet, about 6 billion of us now use mobile phones.
In a recent analysis for the Huffington Post, Davis examined the cellphone industry’s long-term strategy, devised in the early ’90s, to deal with studies showing cellphone radiation damages DNA: “war-game the science.” Noted in a 1994 Motorola memo, this strategy, wrote Davis, “remains alive and well” today, the latest example occurring just last month. When the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published newly detailed documentation for its yearlong 2011 expert review—which declared cellphone radiation a “possible human carcinogen” (same as lead and DDT)—the multi-trillion-dollar cellular industry responded by citing a new dubious report out of Taiwan.
Davis, the founding director of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the U.S. National Research Council, pointed out that the online abstract concludes “with some highly unscientific language that sounds as though it was crafted for the PR section of Foxconn, the Taiwanese producer of phones for Apple, Motorola, and Sony:
‘In conclusion, we do not detect any correlation between the morbidity/mortality of malignant brain tumors and cellphone use in Taiwan. We thus urge international agencies to publish only confirmatory reports with more applicable conclusions in public. This will help spare the public from unnecessary worries.'”
In a recent phone interview with AlterNet, Davis, founder and president of the Wyoming-based Environmental Health Trust, discussed the cellphone industry’s longstanding covert battle against inconvenient science, strategies it has learned from the tobacco industry, our chemical addiction to mobile devices, and simple ways we can limit our exposure without losing touch with civilization.
Brad Jacobson: You’ve written that the cellphone industry’s long-term strategy for responding to studies showing its products damage DNA is to “war-game the science.” What exactly does this strategy entail?
Devra Davis: The example in the 1990s, which is documented in my book, was that [University of Washington researchers] Henry Lai and Narendra N.P. Singh found significant evidence of DNA damage caused by cellphone light radiation comparable almost to the damage you would get from X-rays, which is ionizing. At the time, it was generally believed by some people that non-ionizing radiation, which comes from a cellphone, could not possibly be physically damaging because it was so weak.
Well, it’s true that non-ionizing radiation lacks the power to have damage. But its damage seems to come from its modulated signal. So every 900 milliseconds, if you have a cellphone in your pocket, it’s getting half of that radiation which is getting into you as it seeks the signal from the tower.
So the industry understood this could be of enormous consequences, so they did three things. First, they wrote to the university and tried to get the scientists fired for violating the rules of the contract that they were working under at the time. They then wrote to NIH [National Institutes of Health]—and all of this has been documented in my book and there’s been no lawsuits filed about any of the statements I’m making to you—and they accused the scientists of fraud for misusing funds to do the study. Then, when that didn’t work they actually had somebody meet with the journal editors to try to get the article accepted for publication unaccepted.
by Claire Carter
The phone does not allow access to text messaging or the internet, removing risks associated with mobile phones, and, the makers say, makes it easy for parents to stay in touch with their children .
But experts warned the ‘1stFone’, which costs £55 and is available on a contract or pay as you go basis, risks playing on parents’ fears of abduction and represents a worrying commercialisation of children. Concerns have also been raised about the health implications for very young children using mobile phones.
The phone was launched by OwnFone on Thursday, which has previously collaborated with Age UK on a telephone for the elderly. It is available on a made to order basis through the company’s website. Instead of a screen it just has the names of people to call on the front of it, which can be pre-programmed and older children can have 999 pre programmed.
Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, said marketing a phone for children so young was “just another way of trying to make money out of children and their parents.”
However Mrs Palmer, a former headteacher, and other childcare experts have said the idea behind the phone, aimed at four to nine year-olds, in an era where children want mobiles and the latest technology, could be a positive step.
Mrs Palmer said parents felt more comfortable if they could contact their child easily in all situations, and in principle a simple phone – that removed the dangers of the internet – could be a good idea.
She added: “It’s a very tricky one. I would love to see a phone marketed for children under the age of 14 with no access to the internet. But four years old is extremely young. The point is it’s once they are going out on their own.The point is to look at what’s sensible, healthy and reasonable for children.”
“The marketing of technology to very young children is just a hook to get them into techno-consumerism,” she added.
Dr Agnes Nairn, the author of a Unicef report which compared childhood in Britain with that other European countries, said the phone needed to be marketed sensibly. She warned if it becomes popular it could put pressure on parents who think they need to buy one for their four year olds. But she said, for a phone that helped parents remain in contact with their children easily without the usual dangers of mobile phones, it was a “very good idea.”
She said: “You get this arms race of having to have the latest technology and there are big safety issues with being on the internet. You would give your child a phone if they are somewhere you are not, but four does seem a little young.”
Siobhan Freegard, founder of the UK parenting site Netmums.com said while a phone can be useful, children of four should not need one because they ought not be separated from their parents. She said: “It’s sadly yet another example of firms ringing up profits before children’s welfare.
“Marketing mobiles to pre-school children is wrong. No four year old needs their own phone as they should never be left alone or in a situation where they need to ring an adult.”
Thomas Sunderland, founder and inventor of OwnFone said: “Parents can stay in touch with their child even if they are as young as four without putting them at risk from sexting, text bullying, stumbling across inappropriate images on the internet or even being mugged for their smartphone.
“It’s up to the parent at what age they feel their child needs to be contactable, we just want to ensure when that time comes, there’s a product that minimises usage and poses no threat or danger to their safety.”
Mr Sunderland said the limitations of the phone means the health risks associated with a lot of mobile use is reduced.
PEMBROKE PINES, Florida (WTVJ) — Commissioners in Pembroke Pines, Florida have passed a resolution to warn residents about potential cancer dangers related to cellphone radiation.
The resolution, believed to be the first of its kind in the state, encourages residents to keep their cellphones at least one-inch away from their bodies, use a headset or speakerphone and send messages by text or email, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
The resolution was passed after resident Jimmy Gonzalez told the commission about his brush with cancer, which he believes was caused by his cell phone.
Gonzalez had a cancerous tumor above his left ear removed in August 2011, a year after he’d had another tumor removed from his left hand.
Gonzalez, an attorney who used to use his cellphone for several hours a day, is now cancer-free.
“Do I have 100 percent scientific study that can say well this is what caused it?” Gonzalez said. “No, but I can’t think of anything that would explain this otherwise.”
Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis feels it’s his obligation to inform residents of even the slightest health risk.
“Cities do that, they make people aware of other cities or people that have something wrong with them or something else like that and I think that’s our job to make people aware of these things,” Ortis said.
by Richard Alleyne
Innocente Marcolini, 60, an Italian businessman, fell ill after using a handset at work for up to six hours every day for 12 years.
Now Italy’s Supreme Court in Rome has blamed his phone saying there is a “causal link” between his illness and phone use, the Sun has reported.
Mr Marcolini said: “This is significant for very many people. I wanted this problem to become public because many people still do not know the risks.
“I was on the phone, usually the mobile, for at least five or six hours every day at work.
“I wanted it recognised that there was a link between my illness and the use of mobile and cordless phones.
“Parents need to know their children are at risk of this illness.”
British scientists have claimed there is insufficient evidence to prove any link to mobiles.
But the respected oncologist and professor of environmental mutagenesis Angelo Gino Levis gave evidence for Mr Marcolini — along with neurosurgeon Dr Giuseppe Grasso.
They said electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile and cordless phones can damage cells, making tumours more likely.
Prof Levis told The Sun: “The court decision is extremely important. It finally officially recognises the link.
“It’ll open not a road but a motorway to legal actions by victims. We’re considering a class action.”
Mr Marcolini’s tumour was discovered in the trigeminal nerve — close to where the phone touched his head.
It is non-cancerous but threatened to kill him as it spread to the carotid artery, the major vessel carrying blood to his brain.
His face was left paralysed and he takes daily morphine for pain.
Alasdair Philips of Powerwatch, which campaigns for more research on mobile use, said: “This is an interesting case and proves the need for more studies.
“People should limit mobile and cordless use until we know more.”
The World Health Organisation urged limits on mobile use last year, calling them a Class B carcinogen.
But a spokesman for Britain’s Health Protection Agency said: “The scientific consensus is that mobile phones do not cause cancer.”
International radiation biology expert Michael Repacholi said: “Studies show no evidence of cancer. But if you are worried, use a headset, hands-free or loudspeaker.”
Media lawyer Mark Stephens said the verdict could “open the floodgates” — even though there is no direct obligation on British courts to follow the Italians’ lead.
He said: “It is possible people will begin legal action here, but I think the chances of success are less. I think they’ll join any class action in Italy.”
by Sudeshna Chowdhury
A recent report published by the World Health Organization says that cell phone radiation could possibly be carcinogenic. Doctors advise people to take precautions before it is too late
It seems caution is the watchword for billions of cell phone users across the world after a report published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), indicated that radiation from cell phones posed an increased risk for brain cancer.
The IARC, which is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer research agency, has classified ‘radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use’.
While many cell phone users are concerned, others are least bothered with the study findings. Many, though, have already pressed the panic button and are consciously cutting down on their talk time. For example, Rahul Jain, stock investor from Malad (W), after reading the latest report by WHO, has decided to use his mobile only when it is important.
“The nature of my job is such that I have to constantly be on the phone. But mobile-related health hazards are always on my mind.
At the same time, there is no direct correlation between cell phone usage and cancer, so many of us do not take these warnings seriously. Once concrete evidence comes up, I believe, we will be further limit mobile usage and take necessary precautions.”
A lot of people believe that cell phones have now become an integral part of their life and it is next to impossible to do without them. “We’re youngsters and how could we possibly live without mobiles?” asked Devyani Sabnal (20), student of SIES college, Sion.
Referring to WHO’s report, Sabnal said, “Every problem has a solution. If researchers are saying that cell phone usage can be carcinogenic, then there is a need to find a solution too but abandoning cell phones or limiting its usage is not the answer.”
Arjun Pathwar (19), student of Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) at Vile Parle too echoes a similar sentiment. “I am not bothered at all with this study. My friends too are aware of the study but we just don’t care.
Mobiles are one of the most effective forms of communication and if it is established that usage of cell phones can cause cancer, then we shall see what to do later. We can’t be bothered now,” elaborated Pathwar.
But doctors believe that, not paying heed to these warnings might prove dangerous for people in the long run. Hence it’s better to be safe than sorry. “By the time the results come out, which can clearly indicate that cell phones can have serious health hazards, many might have already lost their life.
In fact we see a lot of kids who come to us to seek treatment for brain tumour, etcetera, and we prescribe minimum usage of cell phones for such patients,” said Dr Arvind Kulkarni, Director, Radiation and Oncology, Lady Ratan Tata Medical Centre, Cooperage.
Dr Ashok Waghmare, a neuro physician recollects a case where one of his patients complained of severe headache and dizziness. “I suggested a few painkillers but he got no relief. After inquiring about his lifestyle, I got to know that he was a medical representative and had to use the phone constantly. So I suggested that he put the phone on loudspeaker while talking.
Within a week he was cured,” said Waghmare. When asked why cell phones could be dangerous for the brain, Waghmare points out that, “The brain has electromagnetic transmitters and it attracts such radiation. Hence brain function can be impaired.”
Waghmare further adds that using loudspeakers dissipates radiation from the phone to the surroundings and, “there is no direct connection with your ear. As a result, the radiation does not affect your brain too much. However, the best option is using landline phones.” Longer the distance, lesser the effects of radiation, say doctors.
Most people in the age group of 25-40 have problems related to excess cell phone usage, says Waghmare. Doctors are concerned with cell phone usage among kids too.
In fact, many parents are equally concerned with the revelations of the WHO study. To prevent her son from using the cell phone, Mansiha Shroff makes her son, Manan (15), go through newspaper articles, which highlight risks related to excess cell phone usage. Said Shroff, “He is old enough to read such articles and understand the health hazards posed by radiation from cell phones. Also, he has a prepaid card, which limits his usage beyond a point.”
Shroff says that her five-year-old daughter, Riddhima too wants a mobile phone, “but we explain to her in simple terms that the mobile is bad for her health.” From safety issues to lack of sleep to other health issues, cell phones can affect kids in a lot of ways. “Cell phones do concern parents.
Some believe that it can impair their child’s hearing ability. Others express concern that too much usage of mobiles can lead to anxiety, irritation and lack of sleep,” said Arundhati Chauhan, President, Parent Teacher Association (PTA) United Forum.
Children and teenagers should be discouraged from using cell phones as, “Children and teenagers are more sensitive to genetic mutations than grown ups. Also, do not keep phones close to your head while sleeping. Switch the phone off at night,” said Kulkarni.
Dr Anusheel Munshi
Nearly 5 billion people worldwide have mobile phones. In India itself, nearly 800 million people use cell phones. The WHO had set up an expert panel to evaluate the effect of cell phones on the human body.
On May 31, 2011 the expert panel said that cell phones might possibly cause side effects. In finding cell phones to be “possibly carcinogenic,” the IARC panel stated that heavy cell phone use might or might not cause a specific form of brain cancer called glioma.
The finding means that research is urgently needed to find out whether cell phones actually cause cancer. It is to be noted that the present panel report does not report any new finding of a study.
Rather it is the expert opinion of eminent leaders in scientific thought, based on the current literature. As of date, no study has categorically implicated cell phones as a causal factor for brain tumour, although there have been suggestions to that effect.
Lifetime exposure to the magnetic fields created by the phones is rapidly increasing. Cell phones are held tightly against the head. Also, children are at particular risk, not only because their skulls are thinner but also because their lifetime exposure to cell phones is likely will be greater than the exposure of current adults.
The effects of cell phones take long to manifest. In some cases this duration may be 10 years or more. Finally, cell phone technology is rapidly advancing and it is claimed that the electromagnetic exposure is progressively less with newer phones.
Electromagnetic radiation is governed by an interesting law known as the inverse square law. What this essentially means is that if we increase distance from the source by a factor of 2, the exposure gets reduced by 1/4th.
It is for this reason, that distance from the device is a critical saving factor from side effects of the cell phone, if indeed they are proven to have such effects. Till we get further evidence on the issue, it may be appropriate to observe the following precautions.
Cell phones may be used whenever they are really needed. For most routine work and casual talks, use the regular landline connection.
Discourage children from excessive use of cell phones. Whenever possible, use a wired ear piece connected to the cell phone.
Avoid cell phone use when the signal is weak.
Consider alternating between left and right ear while talking on cell phone.
Use texting (SMS) instead of calling if possible.
Better safe than sorry
Dr Arvind Kulkarni
Radiation from mobile phones and other electronic devices such as microwave ovens, has been a concern for the medical community for many years.
The atmosphere is full of invisible electromagnetic emitted from radio, television, computer, etcetera. These electronic gadgets have become an integral part of our life and we cannot really do without them. But people can exert caution as far as their usage is concerned.
Although medical journals have often published reports, which state that a, “definite link between these radiation and cancer has not been proven yet,” I believe that, there is no point in waiting for such results to emerge.
One must realise that a tumour doesn’t develop instantly; it takes many years to develop. The writer is the Director, Radiation Oncology Department at the Lady Ratan Tata Medical Centre, Cooperage, Colaba, Mumbai
Men risk wrecking their fertility if they don’t curb their cell phone use. Researchers have found that cell phone use may also lead to low sperm quality and a decrease in fertility.
“Our findings were a little bit puzzling,” said Rany Shamloul, postdoctoral fellow in pharmacology and toxicology at the Queen’s University, Canada, who led the study. “We were expecting to find different results, but the results we did find suggest that there could be some intriguing mechanisms at work,” said Shamloul.
The team discovered that men using cell phones reported higher levels of circulating testosterone but they also had lower levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), an important reproductive hormone that is secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain.
Researchers hypothesize that electromagnetic waves (EMW) emitted by mobiles may have a dual action on male hormone levels and fertility.
EMW may increase the number of cells in the testes ; but by lowering the levels of LH, EMW may block the conversion of basic circulating type of testosterone to the more active form of testosterone associated with sperm production and fertility.
The government assured that India would adhere to best global and scientific benchmarks while drafting the final guidelines in the telecom sector. The government’s reaction comes in the backdrop of a latest WHO report which says cellphone use can possibly cause brain cancer.
“While telecom is a huge success story in India, we have to ensure that any possible health related effects of radiation emitted by mobile phones and towers are reflected in the guidelines.
The final guidelines would take into account the best global benchmarks and scientific evidence on the subject,” said Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Sachin Pilot.
The government in August last year, had set up an inter- ministerial group to evaluate the evidence, re-visit radiation guidelines for mobile towers and adopt guidelines for radiation emission by cell phones.
The group had made it mandatory for cellphone manufacturers to declare the radiation level of each mobile handset on the packet itself.