Cell Phones and Children

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This is the sort of news story that can drive you crazy! Now I have written enough times on the speculation of a link between cell phone use and cancer for regular readers to know that I am not sure what to believe. Those same readers also know that main-stream media articles on almost any subject can drive me to pull my hair out. Actually it looks like I’ve pulled out a lot of it already and probably should find a new way of venting my frustration with these articles. So let me vent with this post!

USA Today recently published an article titled “Cellphones don’t increase cancer risk in kids, study says“. This article goes on and on about how researchers have shown that “using cellphones doesn’t increase children’s cancer risk. The article reads more like a press release from the cell phone manufacturers association than it does like an independent assessment of the study. Now maybe it is just poor writing in the USA Today article, but there appears to be either incomplete information in the article, or a total contradiction in relaying the results.

You can read the article and see for yourself but what caught my attention was this… After stating several ways to Sunday that there is no increased childhood cancer risk from cell phone use, there is this gem about 3/4ths of the way through the article:

In a subset of children, researchers found a higher risk of brain tumors in children whose cellphone subscriptions had begun more than 2.8 years ago.

What that means exactly I cannot tell. I read the abstract of the article but that “subset” is not addressed. To read the full study you either have to be a paying subscriber to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, or buy one-day access to the study online. I did find a good summary of the study written by two epidemiologists but that also did not seem to directly address this subset of children who did have increased cancer rates.

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World Health Organization Study Links Cell Phone Use to Cancer Risk

Cell Phone Radiation, Cell Phone Radiation Protection


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Aug. 10, 2011
Interview with Devra Davis, Environmental Health Trust founder and president, conducted by Scott Harris

After years of speculation about the health hazards of mobile phone use, a panel of scientists at the World Health Organization reported on May 31 that they’ve concluded using cell phones may increase the risk of developing certain types of brain tumors. A working group of 31 scientists from 14 countries meeting at the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer announced that their review of all the available scientific evidence suggested cell phone use should be classified as “possibly carcinogenic.”

While some scientists had previously warned about the dangers of cell phone use, the WHO study marks the first time a major health organization has made a connection between mobile phones and cancer. While the study does not definitively show that cell phone use increases the risk of cancer, the health implications are enormous considering that an estimated five billion people, nearly three-quarters of the world’s population, now use mobile phones.

As the WHO study has increased public concern about cell phone safety, the wireless phone industry has attempted to debunk the group’s warning by funding research of its own, which some critics have labeled as blatant propaganda. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Devra Davis, founder and president of the group Environmental Health Trust, who discusses the importance of the World Health Organization’s report on the health hazards associated with cell phones and what can be done to reduce the risk.

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