Cell Phones And Cancer: Should You Be Worried?

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By now you may have heard that cell phones are “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” That’s according to the World Health Organization and something some scientists have suspected for a while. But now that it’s coming from the WHO, those who have questioned the safety of cell phones have significant international support.

But why “possibly”? What is that supposed to mean? The latest judgment from the WHO sounds a little wishy-washy, and that’s because of the inconclusive nature of the scientific studies on this subject.

The available research on the health effects of cell phone is retrospective. That means scientists are looking into the past at the association between people’s behavior and brain health, rather than designing an experiment that will require a controlled setting. Researchers can’t control retrospectively how much any individual uses a cell phone, or regulate other environmental factors that might be detrimental to brain health, or even know how far away from the head different people hold their cell phones. Remember that the amount of radiation you receive is related to distance-squared from the source, so the further away your phone is physically, the safer you would be.

In a closer-to-ideal experiment regarding cell phone use, scientists would be able to monitor exact cellphone use of particular users over a given time period under controlled conditions, and track their health as well. That would be a prospective study. They would look at particular groups of users – those with high, medium and low usage – and compare health effects. They would know who has what kind of phone, make sure that person kept the same phone during the entire duration of the experiment, and figure out a way to standardize the phone’s distance from the head.

The Interphone study, the largest scientific look at the cell phone health question to date, is a retrospective study. It also is partly industry-funded, and while the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer coordinates it, several researchers who analyze the data receive money from the mobile phone industry.

In May 2010, Interphone published results indicating no connection between cancer and phones. But it defined “highest” exposure levels as using a mobile phone half an hour a day over a 10-year period. In the appendix of the study, published only online, the risk of developing a glioma brain tumor about doubles if you are using a cell phone over a 10-year period.

In general, the Interphone study has many flaws. Among them, participants self-reported how much they used their phones, and memory isn’t always accurate. Also, Interphone does not include children and young adults, who could be at increased risk of brain disease from cell phone radiation. Interphone also fails to address cordless phone use. But the bottom line is that while it doesn’t prove with absolute certainty that anything causes anything, it is still a reason to pause and think about your cell phone use.

Also, in February, a National Institutes of Health study found that cell phone use is associated with increased brain cell activity, although no one really knows what that means for longterm health.

As you can see, there are a lot of different factors involved here, and it’s hard to know what to make of this data. CNN’s own Dr. Sanjay Gupta says he uses a wired earpiece when talking on a cell phone. If you are concerned about cell phone safety, continue to check in with CNNHealth.com and “The Chart” for the latest reporting on medical and scientific studies and keep in mind, if leading neurosurgeons are using wired ear pieces, it may be a good idea to do the same. Here are some tips for minimizing cell phone radiation.

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By Henry Lai

A World Health Organization panel announced this week that microwave radiation from cell phones may cause cancer, and that people should use them less.

The panel, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, comprises 31 scientists from 14 countries and is widely considered to be the best authority on carcinogens. Its director, Dr. Christopher Wild, said that until we better understand the risks, “it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure, such as hands-free devices or texting.”

Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News, an independent and reputable source for reporting on the health effects of electromagnetic fields and radiation, said people should listen to the warnings. “The public has been given a lot of contradictory and misleading information,” Slesin said. “Now we have the first official acknowledgment that we may have a problem and we should take it seriously. A good first step would be to limit the use of cell phones by children.”

The agency’s findings are mainly based on studies showing that heavy users have an increased long-term risk of developing brain tumors. There is also evidence of a link between cell phones and tumors of the acoustic nerve and salivary glands.
The findings suggest that most current safety standards don’t protect people from the phones they use. Not only are they based on obsolete research, but — incredibly — they don’t even consider the effects of long-term exposure.

The new study is hardly the only worrisome research done on cell phone dangers. Other research, for example, indicates that cell phone radiation may damage DNA and change the shape and mobility of sperm, possibly affecting male fertility. Still other work points to effects on the metabolic and electrical activities in the brain. Numerous studies have come to the conclusion that cell phone radiation increases free radicals in the body. Free radicals can have profound effects on human health.

Another aspect of this story is that there are many other sources of microwaves in our environment. Radio and TV transmitters are also major sources of radiation exposure. And then there are the hundreds of thousands of cell phone base stations. Even though they emit relatively low amounts of radiation, their exposures are constant and involuntary.

We have a long way to go before we will fully understand what cell phones can do to our health. We have a lot of research to do. But we should all keep in mind that with some 5 billion users, even a small health effect could — over time — be a major calamity.

I hope people listen to the WHO’s warning. You don’t have to give up your phone; you just have to take simple steps to protect yourself. We all need to be careful and adopt a precautionary approach. It’s not that difficult, and our children may well thank us for it one day.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Henry Lai.

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Cell Phone Radiation And SAR

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http://www.examiner.com/science-society-in-national/cell-phone-radiation-and-sar

If you buy a cell phone with the lowest Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) you’re getting two things: a cell phone with low range and an illusion of safety. SAR is not an indicator of safety, it’s an indicator of range.
Cell phones can be dangerous for several reasons, but they cannot cause cancer.

The search for a cure of cancer goes on, but the search for a cause ended long ago. Cancer is caused by mutations of genes called Proto-oncogenes that perform DNA repair. Genetic mutation is caused by ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation is the nasty stuff that knocks electrons off of atoms and changes the chemical structure of cell components. Ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer; X-rays cause cancer; gamma rays are like super hard x-rays, you get a lot of them in nuclear explosions – best to avoid that. Cell phones, on the other hand, do not emit ionizing radiation.

In 1905 Albert Einstein discovered something fascinating about electromagnetic radiation. It’s called the photo-electric effect. What he saw was that, no matter how high the power, it is impossible for radiation whose wavelength can’t resolve a thing to kick it around. He discovered that electromagnetic radiation comes in packets called photons. If the wavelength is small enough that the packet is localized relative to the target, then the photon can kick it. This is why x-rays, with wavelengths of nanometers – much smaller than cells – can wreak havoc. It’s the wavelength or, equivalently, the frequency of the radiation that determines how much punch a given photon can exert. SAR is a measure of power, not frequency or wavelength.

A more empirical take: In the last two decades over 4 billion people have used cell phones. Prior to that, the number was a factor of thousands lower. If cell phones caused cancer there would be an observable upsurge in cancer rates. There isn’t. Of course science doesn’t attempt to prove negatives; when a phenomenon is not observed, the scientific result is a statement of the maximum probability that the phenomenon could be happening and still not be observed given the size of the data set. For example, if I flip a coin a thousand times and it comes up heads every time, I don’t report that the coin has no tail side, I report that there is less than a 1 in trillion-trillion chance that it’s a normal coin. You’d probably conclude that it’s a two headed coin, but if it were more complicated, the fact that the science doesn’t exclude the possibility might seem “inconclusive” and you might think there’s a chance.

Cell phones connect with base stations by absorbing and emitting electromagnetic radiation that has wavelengths of inches. These wavelengths cannot resolve cells, much less stuff like genes that are housed inside them. Here’s how it works. Pretend you’re a skin cell in my ear lobe (don’t worry, I swabbed). Cell phone radiation exerts an electric field that switches direction every nanosecond or so. Since the time scale of biological systems is milliseconds, the field averages to zero.

But hold on a second. There are possibilities that are worth examining. Some wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation resonate with different chemical structures. This is how microwave ovens work – they transmit radiation at a frequency tuned to the frequency that rotates water molecules and, consequently heats them.. The frequencies where resonances occur are very narrow and it’s possible that certain frequencies could cause undesirable consequences.

Dissemination of information is a key component to the success of market based economies. SAR is interesting information for consumers but should be accompanied by the emitted frequency spectrum, the relationship between distance to the base station and power emitted, and whether you can shut it off without it beeping.
The problem with technical ignorance is not consumer overreaction, it’s that the field is set for, at worst, charlatans and, at best, ill-informed, well meaning people who look in the wrong direction for dangers.

The bogus science industry is pushing Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) as hard as possible to make some cash. William Thomas says, “Most kids brought up using cell phones will be functionally senile by the time they are 30.” Nothing like a little FUD to crank up sales.
The real dangers of cell phones are that people who use them while driving cause accidents. They have batteries which carry quite a charge. If a battery shorts out, the shock of discharge could burn you or start a fire. They also have nasty chemicals.

(You are welcome to republish the text of this article, but not the images, without needing further permission, provided that you attribute the work to its author, Ransom Stephens, Ph.D. Other than a three day course on jitter that he taught to Nokia engineers in 2006, Ransom has never been paid a cent by the cell phone industry. The salmon soup in Finland is wonderful.

Ransom’s biggest problem with cell phones is that people yell rather than speak into them. Cell phones have amazing noise cancellation technology, we don’t need to scream at them.

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Study Finds Cell-Phone Signals Disrupt Bee Colonies

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By Barry Levine

Electromagnetic radiation from nearby cell phones disrupts honeybee behavior, a new study says. It warns that calls from nearby devices can cause “colony losses due to unexpected swarming,” and may be a factor in colony collapses. Other studies have also found deleterious effects on honeybees from cell-phone use.

One group that appears to be unhappy with the rapidly exploding population of cell phones is honeybees. According to a new study, wireless phone signals are confusing the insects to the point of death — and could be a major factor in colony collapse disorder.
The study, by researcher and biologist Daniel Favre of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, is the result of 83 experiments that looked at honeybees’ reactions to nearby cell phones in off and standby modes, and when making phone calls.

Worker Piping Signal
The result is the discovery that mobile phones produce what the study called “a dramatic impact on the behavior of bees, namely by inducing the worker piping signal.” A worker piping signal tells a bee that it’s time to swarm — or that the colony has been disturbed.
Worker piping is noise made by the honeybee, and the study found that it increases 10 times when there is a phone call on a nearby device. Favre wrote that worker piping “is not frequent” naturally in a colony, and, when it happens, it could have “dramatic consequences in terms of colony losses due to unexpected swarming.”

He also said his study is the first on the potential effects of electromagnetic radiation from cell phones on honeybee behavior. A previous study in 2008 found that bees will abandon their hives if a cell phone is nearby.

Another study, from India’s Punjab University, found other kinds of deleterious effects a cell phone can have on bee populations. In that study, published last summer, researchers discovered that a cell phone near a hive resulted in a decrease in the number of eggs produced by the queen bee.

It’s not yet clear if cell phones are the major reason for colony collapse disorder. CCD is a crisis affecting the world’s bees, and it can have a major impact on the natural growth of crops and other plants. Honeybees help pollinate about three-quarters of the food crops on the planet. Other factors have also been implicated, including pesticides, air pollution, fungal pathogens, and global climate change.

Dramatic Turn
In recent years, CCD has taken a dramatic turn, with some beekeepers reporting losses of 30 to 90 percent, many times larger than in earlier years.

For humans, there have also been concerns about cell phones in relation to cancer and other possible health risks. The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health has said “research studies have not shown a consistent link between cell-phone use and cancer.” It cited a large, 2010 international study, which found that “cell-phone users have no increased risk for two of the most common types of brain tumor — glioma and meningioma.”

It added that, “for the small proportion of study participants who reported spending the most total time on cell-phone calls, there was some increased risk of glioma, but the researchers considered this finding inconclusive.”

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NCI Statement: International Agency for Research on Cancer Classification of Cell Phones as “Possible Carcinogen”

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The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) today classified mobile phone use and other radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as a possible carcinogen (group 2B). This is neither new research nor at odds with previous findings.
Both IARC and NCI recommend continued monitoring of both brain cancer trends and new evidence from studies in humans and laboratory animals. In particular, it will be important to assess risk after long-term use, and for younger users. IARC further recommends specific actions to reduce exposure (e.g. hands-free use and texting) as further studies are undertaken.
Interphone, considered the major study on cell phone use and cancer risk, has reported that overall, cell phone users have no increased risk of the most common forms of brain tumors — glioma and meningioma. In addition, the study revealed no evidence of increasing risk with progressively increasing number of calls, longer call time, or years since beginning cell phone use. For the small proportion of study participants who reported spending the most total time on cell phone calls, there was some increased risk of glioma, but the researchers considered this finding inconclusive. Furthermore, a large population-based cohort study in Denmark has found no evidence of increased risk of brain tumors. It is noteworthy that brain cancer incidence and mortality rates in the population have changed little in the past decade.

The National Toxicology Program (NTP) at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is leading the largest laboratory rodent study to date on cell phone radiofrequency exposures. The NTP studies will assess the potential for health hazards from exposure to cell phone radiation. The studies are designed to mimic human exposure and are based on the frequencies and modulations currently in use in the United States.

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Cell-Phone Cancer Warning Met with a Shrug

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By Peter Svensson
A mostly lackadaisical attitude greeted the World Health Organization’s warning that cell phones may be carcinogenic. Some people vowed to get headsets to shield themselves from radiation, but most seemed to either dismiss the warning as too vague, or reason that if the most useful device in modern life poses a slight health risk, then so be it.

News last week that an arm of the World Health Organization said cell phones might raise the risk of brain cancer has been greeted by Americans mostly with a shrug of the shoulder — one that’s pinning a cell phone to the ear.
Google searches for “cancer” and “cell phones” spiked this week. And some people vowed to get headsets to shield themselves from radiation. But most seemed to either dismiss the warning as too vague, or reason that if the most useful device in modern life poses a slight health risk, then so be it.

“I was watching the news about it, and I thought, `I’m already screwed because I’ve been talking on the phone for seven years,'” said Genevieve Chamorro, a 31-year-old New Yorker who was shopping for a phone.
John Gottani, a manager at a cell phone store in New York, said he’s been selling phones for six years and has never heard anyone ask if they cause cancer. The only things customers really care about, Gottani said, are “if it works, and if it texts.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed dozens of published studies on cell phones and cancer before classifying cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic” on Tuesday. It’s a risk category that includes night-shift work, engine exhaust and coffee.
Studies haven’t been able to rule out a link between cell phones and cancer. But experts say that if there is a link, it’s unlikely to be strong. Cell phones emit weak radio waves, which, under the conventional understanding of physics, can’t wreak the same sort of cellular changes that sunlight and radioactivity can.

A common tip offered to those who want to reduce their exposure to cell phone radiation is to use a headset. Even wireless Bluetooth headsets reduce radiation exposure. Though they emit radio signals of their own, they’re much weaker than cell phone signals.
But there seems to be little rush to get Bluetooth headsets. They’ve been declining in popularity for at least four years, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. It’s also found that most headset owners don’t intend to replace the one they have when it wears out.
According to Strategy Analytics analyst Chris Schreiner, the main reason is that when you’re wearing a Bluetooth headset, you look like a person who’s wearing a Bluetooth headset.
“Style has always been a huge issue in terms of Bluetooth headsets,” Schreiner said.

On Twitter this week, the most common posts mentioning “headset” and “cancer” have been repeats of a joke from humor site Someecards.com: “I can’t decide between being seen wearing a Bluetooth headset or just getting brain cancer.”
Cell phones differ in how much radiation they emit. Proposals in a few states would force cell phone stores to display these radiation ratings.
But CTIA-The Wireless Association, the cell phone industry trade group, is fighting these moves. It says there’s no evidence the measured ratings have any correlation with risks. And cell phone manufacturers and carriers are showing no sign of breaking ranks with each other to use the ratings to their advantage — for instance, by touting “low-radiation phones.”

Spokesman John Walls said CTIA wouldn’t fight a manufacturer that wanted to market a “low-radiation phone.” But claiming a phone to be safer than any other would cross the line, he said.
“They’re all deemed safe by science,” Walls said.
Americans on average talk about 700 minutes a month on their cell phones, making them some of the most talkative people in the world, well ahead of Europeans.

In San Francisco, Chuck Luter, 42, said he doesn’t plan to change his habits as a result of the radiation warning. When the advertising-shoot prop stylist talks on his Sidekick phone, he usually uses the speakerphone, so it’s not close to his head. ‘
And in any case, he texts more than he talks. Besides, he added, there are few alternatives to owning a cell phone.
“What are the other options? To not have one? To try to keep it all in your head? There are so many bad things for you — just add this to the pile.”‘

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Cell-Phone Use Not Related To Increased Brain Cancer Risk

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Radio frequency exposure from cell phone use does not appear to increase the risk of developing brain cancers by any significant amount, a study by University of Manchester scientists suggests.
The researchers used publically available data from the UK Office of National Statistics to look at trends in rates of newly diagnosed brain cancers in England between 1998 and 2007.

The study, published in the journal Bioelectromagnetics, reported no statistically significant change in the incidence of brain cancers in men or women during the nine-year time period under observation.
“Cell phone use in the United Kingdom and other countries has risen steeply since the early 1990s when the first digital cell phones were introduced,” said lead researcher Dr Frank de Vocht, an expert in occupational and environmental health in the University of Manchester’s School of Community-Based Medicine.

“There is an on-going controversy about whether radio frequency exposure from cell phones increases the risk of brain cancer. Our findings indicate that a causal link between cell phone use and cancer is unlikely because there is no evidence of any significant increase in the disease since their introduction and rapid proliferation”
The authors say that because there is no plausible biological mechanism for radio waves to damage our genes directly, thereby causing cells to become cancerous, radio frequency exposure, they argue, if related to cancer is more likely to promote growth in an existing brain tumour.

As such, the researchers say they would expect an increase in the number of diagnosed cases within five to 10 years of the introduction of cell phones and for this increase to continue as cell phone use became more widespread. The 1998 to 2007 study period would therefore relate to the period 1990 to 2002 when cell phone use in the UK increased from zero to 65% of households.

The team, which included researchers from the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh and Drexel University, Philadelphia, found a small increase in the incidence of cancers in the temporal lobe of 0.6 cases per 100,000 people or 31 extra cases per year in a population of 52 million. Brain cancers of the parietal lobe, cerebrum and cerebellum in men actually fell slightly between 1998 and 2007.
“Our research suggests that the increased and widespread use of cell phones, which in some studies was associated to increased brain cancer risk, has not led to a noticeable increase in the incidence of brain cancer in England between 1998 and 2007,” said Dr de Vocht.

“It is very unlikely that we are at the forefront of a brain cancer epidemic related to cell phones, as some have suggested, although we did observe a small increased rate of brain cancers in the temporal lobe corresponding to the time period when cell phone use rose from zero to 65% of households. However, to put this into perspective, if this specific rise in tumour incidence was caused by cell phone use, it would contribute to less than one additional case per 100,000 population in a decade.

“We cannot exclude the possibility that there are people who are susceptible to radio-frequency exposure or that some rare brain cancers are associated with it but we interpret our data as not indicating a pressing need to implement public health measures to reduce radio-frequency exposure from cell phones.”

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By John Timmer
Those who are worried about the possible health risks of cellphones just received some backing from a significant source: the World Health Organization. A group within the organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, has announced it is listing the electromagnetic radiation produced by cell phones as “”possibly carcinogenic.”” The IARC’s use of the term “”possibly”” is key to the decision, as its expert panel determined that the information available is too limited to say anything with a greater degree of certainty, but is sufficient to warrant careful monitoring.

The designation is the result of a meeting held last week that brought 31 health researchers together to evaluate the conclusions that can be drawn from current research, including unpublished information from the Interphone study. The conclusions will eventually appear in The Lancet Oncology, but the IARC has issued a press release ahead of publication.

As we recently discussed, the wavelengths used for cellular communications are only known to influence human tissue via heating, and the researchers involved with the designation do not propose anything new here. The panel also recognizes that most of the epidemiological research involving human exposure to radio frequencies is ambiguous; for all but two types of cancer, the current state of information is officially deemed “”inadequate.””

For those two types of cancer, glioma and acoustic neuroma, the committee considered the evidence to be somewhat stronger, rising to the level of “”limited.”” According to the IARC, this means that “”A positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer,”” but “”chance, bias or confounding could not be ruled out with reasonable confidence.”” One of the members of the group, USC’s Jonathan Samet, said that this designation means that “”There could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk.””

For these types of tumor, there is some evidence that those users who self-report as being among the heaviest cell phone users have a higher rate of incidence at longer time points. However, there’s no clear trend in risks with increasing use, and self-reported behavior can often be unreliable, hence the caution expressed by the report and its authors.

So if everyone involved is being cautious about our limited state of knowledge, why the worrisome designation? Officially, the IARC places cell phones in Category 2B of their classification of cancer risks, and that’s a pretty broad category:
This category is used for agents for which there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. It may also be used when there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans but there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. In some instances, an agent for which there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals together with supporting evidence from mechanistic and other relevant data may be placed in this group. An agent may be classified in this category solely on the basis of strong evidence from mechanistic and other relevant data.
All indications are that cell phones fall into the first of these categories: limited evidence of risk in humans, and nothing significant from laboratory animals. Samet’s suggestion—that we need to keep a close watch in the form of further studies—makes a great deal of sense but is probably superfluous; there’s no doubt those studies are in progress.

Even if our knowledge hasn’t changed, the fact that the World Health Organization has weighed is sure to shift the debate. Although few people are likely to end up reading The Lancet Oncology in order to get a firm grasp on the limitations of our current knowledge, the mere use of the term “”carcinogen”” will probably have a potent effect on both the public’s imagination and the ability of legislators to enact limits on the exposure to wireless radiation.

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A group of experts from the World Health Organization has classified the radiation emitted from cell phones as a possible cancer-causing agent, concluding that cell phones could be associated with an increased risk for glioma, a type of brain tumor.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) convened a group of 31 scientists from 14 countries to look at the health risks associated with radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. They spent a week in Lyon, France, reviewing hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies on the issue.
“”The evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion and the 2B classification,”” Dr. Jonathan Samet, a University of Southern California scientist who chaired the working group, said in a statement.

The IARC classifies carcinogenic agents according to different degrees, from “”carcinogenic to humans”” to “”probably not carcinogenic.”” Group 2B — the group that will now include radiofrequency electromagnetic fields — is defined as “”possibly carcinogenic to humans.”” It also contains lead, DDT, engine exhaust, and chloroform, among other substances.

Dr. Samet explained that the classification means that there could be some risk — a risk that warrants continued study. The IARC group did not quantify the radiation risk of cell phone use, but did consider a study that showed the highest risk of brain tumors among the heaviest users.

“”Given the potential consequences for public health on this classification and fidings, it is important that additional research be conducted into the long-term, heavy use of mobile phones,”” IARC Director Christopher Wild said.

Until then, measures should be taken to reduce exposure, including use of hands-free devices or texting, Wild added. Many cell phone manufacturers put out safety manuals that encourage users to keep the devices several millimeters from their body.

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by Matthew L. Schafer
(Note: This article originally appeared on the media website LWR.
On Tuesday, with almost 91% of Americans now using cell phones, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radio-frequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic” to humans. About 5 million people worldwide have cell phone subscriptions.

“[T]he evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a [the conclusion that cell phone use may cause cancer],” Dr. Jonathan Samet, Chairman of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said in the report. “The conclusion means that there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk.”

According to the report, mobile phone use may increase the risk of developing glioma and acoustic neuroma. Glioma is a type of cancer that attack the brain’s glial cells, which normally act to protect the brains neurons. Acoustic neuroma affects cells that are responsible for the protective the myelin sheath around nerves outside the brain.
Just last May, the WHO stated that “no adverse health effects have been established for mobile phone use.” It also noted that the results of the studies as of 2010 “have too many limitations to completely rule out an association.”

“IARC conducts numerous reviews and in the past has given the same score to, for example, pickled vegetables and coffee,” John Walls, Vice President of Public Affairs for the industry group The Wireless Association, said. “This IARC classification does not mean cellphones cause cancer.”

The IARC classified the electromagnetic frequency given off by cell phones as a “Group 2b” carcinogen. Some other Group 2b carcinogens include: DDT (the controversal pesticide), lead, and gasoline. Group 2b is the lowest level of confidence that the IARC uses when classifying something as carcinogenic, followed by Group 2a (“probably carcinogenic to humans”), and Group 1 (“carcinogenic to humans”).
The IARC, which met from May 24-May 31, reviewed hundreds of previous studies to come to its conclusion of the possible link between cell phones and cancer. It did not conduct any new research. IARC has also been criticized in the past for its lack of transparency in classifying chemicals and other compounds as carcinogenic.
This recent classification adds to a growing swell of controversy surrounding cell phone use and cancer. Just last June, the City of San Francisco passed its widely publicized “Cell Phone Right to Know” ordinance.

The ordinance required cell phone retailers to disclose the phone’s “SAR” rating, which is short for specific absorbtion rate and measures how much radiation is absorbed by the body. Just days after San Francisco passed the law, The Wireless Association filed a lawsuit claiming that the law would cause “consumer confusion.” Ironically, after the long controversy over the law, San Francisco finally gave up fighting the suit just three weeks ago, and discontinued the legislation.
While it’s still unclear whether cell phones do, in fact, cause cancer, it is clear that people likely won’t stop using cell phones no matter the science. As Maureen Dowd said of society’s love affair with technology, “We don’t yet really know the physical and psychological impact of being slaves to technology… We’re living in the cloud, in a force field, so afraid of being disconnected and plunged into a world of silence and stillness that even if scientists told us our computers would make our arms fall off, we’d probably keep typing.”

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