Behind The World Health Organization’s “Cancerous” Pronouncement On Cell Phones

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Geoffrey Kabat, a cancer epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, lays out how WHO’s cancer conclusions don’t square with actual science.

We rely on health and regulatory agencies to provide impartial assessments of potential health risks. Unfortunately, these agencies can be subject to the same political and professional pressures at work in society generally.

An example of this is the recent, widely-publicized pronouncement by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (which is part of the World Health Organization) to the effect that radiofrequency radiation (or RF) from cell phones was “possibly carcinogenic.” Coming only a year after publication of the results of a large multi-country study, which showed no convincing evidence of a hazard, IARC’s announcement left the public as well as many scientists nonplussed.

IARC is a prestigious agency that since the early 1970s has been producing respected monographs evaluating the evidence for a wide range of chemical, physical, and hormonal agents in the carcinogenic process. The cell phone report was the result of an intensive, week-long review by a committee of experts.

In spite of the consternation caused by the report in professional circles, there has been little insight into how the IARC could evaluate all of the relevant scientific evidence and come up with an impossibly vague conclusion. Like many of my colleagues, I was dismayed by the IARC announcement, which did not square with my reading of the scientific evidence.

Hints that not everything was harmonious in the IARC process seeped out but have not been pursued. These include the dismissal from the committee of one of the foremost experts on non-ionizing radiation, a Swedish epidemiologist, due to a “conflict of interest” and the resignation from the committee of an epidemiologist specializing in brain tumors at the National Cancer Institute.

In June I contacted both of these colleagues asking if they would agree to answer questions about the committee’s deliberations, but in both cases they politely declined. One colleague, who is knowledgeable about both IARC and the National Cancer Institute group, offered that scientists involved in this contentious issue have a strong incentive to keep a low profile.

Determined to speak to someone who had participated in the committee, I contacted a molecular toxicologist, Dr. Vijayalaxmi, at the University of Texas, who was only too happy to discuss the committee’s proceedings and to answer my questions.
The IARC cell phone “working group” was composed of approximately thirty members. At the start of the week-long meeting in Lyon, France, where IARC is located, committee members were divided into four separate groups that reviewed the evidence in different areas: epidemiology, dosimetry, animal studies, and “other relevant evidence.” Members of each subgroup were kept informed on a daily basis about the deliberations of the other subgroups.

According to Dr. Vijayalaxmi, in all of the evidence reviewed there was one animal study that showed “weak evidence” of carcinogenicity and one study in the “other evidence” category providing what was also judged to be “weak evidence.” The vast majority of the experimental evidence showed nothing. Beyond that, there were the human (epidemiology) studies. These have been reviewed critically by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, which found no convincing evidence of a link between cell phone use and the occurrence of brain tumors.

At the end of the week-long meeting everyone voted, but, interestingly, the vote was only on the epidemiology. In other words, all the other evidence from experimental studies was left out of the final decision on how to classify RF. The choices in the IARC classification scheme are: “sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity”; “probable carcinogen”; “possible carcinogen”; or “insufficient evidence.” A majority of committee members voted to classify RF as “possible carcinogen,” while a small minority voted for “insufficient evidence.”

Since the agency’s classification hinged on the epidemiology alone, it is highly significant that one of the committee members was Dr. Lennart Hardell, another Swedish researcher who has carried out epidemiologic studies of mobile phone use and brain tumors. Hardell has been a vocal promoter of his results as indicating that long-term cell phone use appears to be associated with increased risk of glioma, the most fatal type of brain tumor.
However, Hardell’s work is viewed as seriously flawed by some of the most respected academic epidemiologists working in this area. It appears that he was included as a member of the working group in response to pressure from activists and the media. One well-informed scientist told me that she thought the committee member who resigned did so in disgust at the weight given to the Hardell studies.

According to Dr. Vijayalaxmi, in issuing its report IARC wanted to send a message that we still have limited information about the possible effects of prolonged and heavy use of cell phones, especially among users who start as children and adolescents. She is comfortable with the classification and thinks that it will be an “eye-opener for people who abuse the technology, which is meant for benefit, not for overuse and abuse.”

But if this were the goal, there was no need to carry out another exhaustive evaluation of the evidence. And once having carried out such a review, by any set of criteria for evaluating evidence, the conclusion should have been that – although we have not monitored the effects of cell phone use for long enough – the substantial evidence currently available provides no suggestion that cell phone use contributes to the risk of brain tumors. The ambiguous label “possible carcinogen” is unfortunate because it means one thing to scientists working for IARC and something quite different to the general public when trumpeted in the headlines.

In classifying RF as a “possible carcinogen,” IARC has aligned itself with the “precautionary principle,” which sounds perfectly reasonable, except that it is often used to conjure up the existence of a possible hazard in the face of extensive and solid evidence suggesting the non-existence of a hazard. Of course, we need to spell out the limits of current knowledge, but we also need to rely on scientists and health agencies to use logic, analytic rigor, and clear language to assess what things are worth worrying about.

Geoffrey Kabat, Ph.D., is a cancer epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the author of “Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and the Science of Epidemiology.”

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August 24, 2011 | Zulima Palacio

This past May, in a major policy shift, the World Health Organization said electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are possibly carcinogenic. Although the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunication Industry says there’s no evidence that cell phones have a negative impact on health, many people are wondering exactly how electromagnetic fields, including those generated by cell phones, might harm them.

The World Health Organization says at least five billion people around the world use mobile phones and those who use them most frequently could be at risk for malignant brain tumors.

Many scientists welcomed the WHO statement, but some said it did not go far enough because it didn’t mention impacts on human health from cell towers and other wireless devices.

Camilla Reed is founder and director of ElectromagneticHealth.org, an advocacy group that’s been critical of the mobile phone industry. She explains the basics of electromagnetic fields.

“An electromagnetic field is a wave with a frequency. The frequency may be long or tight. It’s energy; it’s packets of energy that is a natural phenomenon on earth, but it is also modulated by mankind to create telecommunication spectrums that are artificial frequencies that are not found in nature and that our bodies are not adapted to,” Reed said.

Reed says research on the biological impact of electromagnetic fields goes back to the 1950s. Those impacts include not only cancer, but other effects on living cells and their genetic material, their DNA.

Reed is especially concerned about the growing pollution from electromagnetic fields near schools, like these cell phone antennas next to a high school football field in a Washington suburb.

Scientists disagree about the health effects of electromagnetic fields. But they all agree that caution should be used when it comes to children, the most vulnerable group.

Some health experts believe the effects could be wide-ranging. Dr. Ashok Agarwal heads the Center for Reproductive Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. He has done several studies on the impact of cell phone use on male fertility.

“We demonstrated that men who use cell phones for more than four hours per day have a significant reduction in their semen quality in most of the semen parameters such as sperm count, mobility, and morphology,” Agarwal said.

Dr. Agarwal says other scientists have gone farther in finding damage to DNA and other changes attributed to electromagnetic fields.

Neuroscientist Nora Volkov, at the National Institutes of Health, has been using magnetic resonance imaging ((MRIs)) to study human brain responses to electromagnetic fields.

“What our study does show is that the human brain is sensitive to the effects of electromagnetic radiation from cell phone exposure, when the cell phones are placed by the side of the head,” Volkov said.

Volkov’s study did not determine long-term impact. But she compares her initial studies to those done decades ago on the health effects of tobacco. She says scientists had to wait 15 to 30 years before there was conclusive evidence that smoking causes cancer.

On the safety of cell phones, scientists offer these suggestions. “When it comes to children and adolescents, I would give the recommendation to parents to encourage them not to use the cell phone by the side of the head but instead to use the speaker phone mode or with a wire, and certainly would not recommend for them to sleep with their cell phones under their pillows,” Volkov said.

Dr. Ashok Agarwal from Cleveland Clinic.

“The technology is very important for our day-to-day life, but we need to be aware that there may be some possible side effects that can be there with overuse of these technologies,” Agarwal said.

The evidence on the cancer-causing potential of cell phone radiation is not yet conclusive, but the World Health Organization’s cautionary stand is certain to fuel intensified research into electromagnetic fields and their impact on public health.

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August 11, 2011
by Devra Davis, Ph.D.
In a nearly unanimous decision, 31 expert advisers to the World Health Organization (WHO) recently stunned the world’s 5 billion cell phone users and declared radiofrequency and electromagnetic radiation a “possible” cause of brain cancer. Microwave radiation from cell phones joins a list of well-reviewed cancer-causing agents, that includes engine exhaust, some pesticides, lead, coffee and unusually preserved vegetables.

Founded on an exhaustive analysis, the WHO expert opinion rests on a simple and well-accepted public health premise: Every compound known to cause cancer in humans also produces it in animals when adequately studied. The goal of such assessments is not to prove harm, but to provide the grounds for steps to prevent damage from unfolding. How did preserved vegetables make the list? In areas of rural China that lack refrigeration, extremely high levels of salts in preserved meats, fish and vegetables that form toxic compounds have created devastating rates of digestive system cancers. What about caffeine? In fact, like a number of chemotherapy agents that have both positive and negative impacts, caffeine slightly raises the risk of bladder cancer, while reducing that of colon and other tumors.

In fact, brain cancer is hardly the only health issue of concern linked to cell phone radiation, nor are cell phones the only source of radiofrequency and electromagnetic radiation. Studies in rabbits and rats have showed that pulsed digital signals from today’s smartphones damage sperm, brain, liver, eyes and skin of exposed offspring, and impair their memory and behavior. According to independent studies at the Cleveland Clinic and Australia’s national research center, men who use cell phones four hours a day have about half the normal sperm and three times more damage to their DNA than those with much less use.
More studies on cell damage (Chavdoula et al, Mutation Research, 2010) and birth defects (Fragopoulou et al, Pathophysiology, 2010) caused by cell phone radiation were presented in Istanbul recently.

Fortune magazine asks: If cell phones caused brain cancer, then why don’t we face an epidemic now? To those who understand the long latencies involved, the absence of a general brain tumor epidemic at this time provides no comfort. Survivors of the atomic bombs that fell on Japan experienced no increase at all in brain cancer until four decades after the war’s end. Cell phones were not heavily used until quite recently. Three out of every four cases of brain cancer occur in someone over age 60 — a group that had not used cell phones extensively even a decade ago. In contrast, every major study ever conducted has found that those who use cell phones half an hour a day or more have a doubled risk of brain cancer, and those who began using cell phones as teenagers have four to five times more disease in less than 10 years.

Concerned about the growing evidence that cell phone radiation damages membranes of living cells, many nations are acting now to reduce cell phone radiation exposures to the young brain. With its latest expert review, WHO joins with medical specialists in Israel, Finland, France, Russia, India and Brazil, all of whom agree that cell phone radiation should be reduced now, rather than waiting for the deadly confirmation we received with tobacco and asbestos.

The WHO’s advice rests on a fundamental concept: It is far better to prevent rather than to prove danger. Thanks to pioneering exposés by Professor Stan Glantz and others, we now know that scientists’ warnings about tobacco and asbestos were long suppressed and ignored — fueled by a sophisticated campaign that saw science as just another public relations tool.
The United Kingdom’s distinguished Sir William Stewart chaired a Royal College of Physicians Commission more than a decade ago that advised that those under age 16 to limit their use of cell phones, and offered similar advice to that which was just affirmed by WHO. Given the absence of serious and extensive research on this topic at this time, we are treating ourselves and our children like experimental rats and rabbits, but without any unexposed control groups.

Because children’s skulls, brains and bodies are thinner and more vulnerable, we put them in bicycle helmets and car seats. We need to take parallel steps to protect them and ourselves from the potential impact of microwave radiation from cell phones.

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By Geethu Paul , IX , A
Aug. 19, 2011
Mobile phones have become an essential part of our day today life. Teenagers are the majority of mobile phone users in the world. An empirical study about uses and misuses of the mobile phone has highlighted that teenagers are most affected among mobile phone users.

Mobile phones offer an array of facilities and services. No doubt mobile phone is a need of the day, but teenagers get into various evils and difficulties at a very early age. The facilities offered by mobile phones like SMS, MMS, video films, chatting etc are used to a great extent. New studies reveal that excessive use of mobile phones leave teenagers with disrupted sleep, restlessness, stress and fatigue.

The addiction of teenagers to mobile phones and computers is affecting their education adversely. The students in schools and colleges are using mobile phones extensively. They pay more attention to the facilities offered by these media and concentrate less in classes. They lack interest in studies and divert to unwanted activities with the help of services cell phones. Plagiarism, data storage and answer leakage owe a lot to web and mobile phones.

Mobile phones have become an inevitable part of life today. They lead to higher standards of living. But if misused, it can bring our standard down. Mobile crimes such as misuse and pornography are also increasing among teenagers. Today’s teenagers are forgetting the ethical way of learning. They are only focusing on goals such as passing and honors as the main objective. Other evils which the teenagers face are the health issues connected with prolonged cell phone usage giving rise to diseases like brain cancer, insomnia etc.

The concern of parents to keep in touch with children and their security in society are behind their decision to get them a cell phone irrespective of their advantages and disadvantages.

The evolution and boom of technology cannot be avoided or controlled by us, but what we as teenagers should develop is the human effort to know when and how to use these technologies and when not to. Not only ours but our coming generations may look like dumb individuals who rely too much on gadgets and advancements.

So, friends do you really want to risk the chance of developing brain cancer because you can’t sacrifice the minor inconvenience of using a sage headset or speaker or avoiding cell phones?

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08/19/2011
Billions of people all around the world use mobile or cell phones, but there is still a debate raging over the possible health risks of mobile phone radiation. Numerous scientific studies have been conducted into the effects of mobile phones on cells, animals and humans. No conclusive evidence of any ill effects has been found.

Mobile phones work by transmitting radio waves through a network of masts or base stations. The radiation that is produced by mobile phones is a type of electromagnetic radiation known as microwave radiation. All wireless devices also produce electromagnetic radiation similar to that emitted by mobile phones. The levels of radiation produced by all of these devices and phones is regulated as a precaution against any possible adverse effects.

Mobile phones only emit radiation when they are turned on, and the strength of the radiation decreases rapidly with distance from the phone. This means that the amount of radiation that is experienced a foot away from the phone is much less than that is present right next to the phone. The use of headsets and other mobile phone accessories could alter the effects of mobile phone radiation on the body, although whether the radiation is increased or decreased depends upon the exact type and model that is being used.

Concern over the possible effects of mobile phones on human health has focused on two main aspects of the radiation they produce: the microwave radiation itself, and the thermal effects of mobile phone radiation.

Some of the radiation that is produced by a mobile phone held next to the ear is absorbed by the body. This has led to speculation that mobile phone use could lead to an increased risk of cancer, particularly brain tumors and cancers of the head and ears. Many scientific studies have been conducted in order to look for such a link between mobile phone use and cancer. No conclusive evidence of such a link was found and most of the studies found no evidence whatsoever of an increased cancer risk. The incidence of brain tumors has not significantly increased in the UK, USA, or Scandinavia since the 1980s, when mobile phones were first introduced.

The INTERPHONE project, a long-term study of cancer and mobile phone usage over a period of approximately ten years that was overseen by the WHO (World Health Organization) did not find a link between mobile phone radiation and cancer. The study suggested that more research might be necessary into the effects of very high usage since this had become more common since the study began. There was some evidence of a higher cancer rate in the heaviest users of mobile phones in the study, although the effect was not significant and therefore no conclusions could be drawn from it. It may simply have been the effects of bias or chance.

The long-term effects of mobile phone radiation on human health are becoming clearer as the technology ages. Many people have now been using mobile phones for years, although the effects of longer, lifetime usage are still unknown. It is possible to make some judgments about the long-term effect on humans from studies that have been conducted on animals. These have found no increase in the risk of developing cancer due to exposure to mobile phone radiation, but some people still worry that the true effects on humans will not be known for another twenty or thirty years. The INTERPHONE project has helped to reveal more about the effects of long-term mobile phone use, but there is still no evidence of what more than fifteen years of use can do to the body. Some cancers can take longer than this to develop, and so there is, therefore, a chance that a link between mobile phone radiation and cancer may be found in the future.

If such a link does exist, however, then it would change our understanding of how the microwave radiation produced by mobile phones can interact with the body since there is no known method through which it could cause cancer. Unlike X rays and gamma radiation (radioactive radiation), microwaves cannot cause ionization or breakage chemical bonds in the body. Microwaves cannot damage DNA. There is no known mechanism through which the radiation produced by mobile phones could cause cancer.

Another effect of microwave radiation from mobile phones that has been studied is the thermal effect. In the same way that a microwave oven heats food, the microwave radiation produced by a mobile phone can raise the temperature of the body. Mobile phones can cause a slight increase in the temperature of the part of the body adjacent to them, mainly near the surface. However, this effect is less than that experienced when the head is exposed to direct sunlight and is, therefore, unlikely to cause any problems.

Children may be more susceptible to any harmful effects of mobile phone radiation, due to their smaller size and rapidly growing tissue. Beginning to use a mobile phone at an earlier age also increases the lifetime exposure to mobile phone radiation, and could therefore increase the risks. No studies of the long-term effects of mobile phone use by children have been conducted.

Mobile phone masts or base stations constantly emit the same sort of radiation as mobile phones. The radiation is very strong next to the antenna, but cannot travel very far. The radiation most people experience from mobile phone masts is, therefore, usually weaker than that to which they would be exposed while using a mobile phone. Studies have been conducted into the possible effects of mobile phone base stations, with mixed results. There is no conclusive evidence of any adverse effects.

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There are at least over a hundred million people who have started using cell phones by the end of the 19th century. With this growing number, the number of cell sites and satellites to provide for the growing need of good reception has expanded at an enormous rate. But with this rapid growth in technology, serious matters regarding electromagnetic exposure and radiation are coming to light.

There was an issue that popped up regarding a man claiming that his wife developed brain tumor because of RF or radio frequency from their cell phone. Of course, there was no substantial evidence to back up his claim that the cell phone was the cause. His wife’s habits were just like anyone else’ so the case was promptly dropped after two years. But this has started a wave of panic and uncertainty amongts the civilian population. What if there was an amount of truth to this crazy claim?

The concern comes from the fact that cell phones emit RF or radio frequencies, which is a type of wave that is located between the spectrum of FM radio waves and microwaves. The intensity varies on the exposure time, and from person to person, since location from base station can also affect the frequency. The model can also affect the amount, since newer models tend to emit lesser degrees of it.

Any person that lives near or is in the range of a base station’s tower would be bombarded by radio waves. Older modeled cell phones would emit larger quantities of these waves in comparison to that of the newer ones. But there is still no link that can be found at all. Most brain tumor patients would claim that they had lower hours of cell phone usage compared to normal people. There was no relation to the side of the brain that grew a tumor in connection to where the cell phone was mostly placed in.

No study could ever provide a clear link between the two, both cancer and cell phone. Though it is proven that radiation can cause cancer, the amount it emits is below the margin of danger. And benefits are more numerous than the harm it may possibly not cause. Who would want to throw away something convenient because a half-baked scare tactic?

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August 17, 2011
When it comes to our health, we should all take a closer look at the growing role of technology in our lives.
By Mia James

We love our technology. With mobile phones, computers, tablet computers, and e-readers, we’re spending an increasing number of hours in front of a screen. And though many of us who enjoy and have come to rely on technology are likely to declare its virtues, questions are also emerging about the impact that technology may have on our health. Can so much screen time lead to significant health issues?

If you’re concerned about screen time and its effects on your health and well-being, this may be a good time to consider how your favorite devices may be doing more than keeping you connected and entertained.
Cell Phones and Brain Cancer
Mobile phones have long been under suspicion for their possible link with brain cancer. Concern stems from the fact that cellular phones emit a form of radiation called radio-frequency energy, or radio waves. Radiation produced by X-ray machines is known to raise cancer risk, leading experts to question whether cell phones might also pose a risk. (Cell phones, however, emit low-frequency radiation, whereas X-ray machines emit high-frequency radiation.) The head (and thus the brain) is naturally most vulnerable to any possible radiation risk, given the way we hold phones to our ears.

Further research is needed to better understand whether cell phone use is associated with brain cancer. At present, findings exist both for and against a link between cell phone use and brain cancer.
• A 2010 study described the concern over the brain cancer- and cell phone link in the United State as “considerable” in light of the high prevalence of cell phone use—more than 290 million subscribers. This study, however, did not find a link between cell phone use and brain cancer.1
• On the other side of the controversy are studies that do suggest an increased risk of brain cancer with cell phone use. Researchers in Sweden, for example, recently found that when they evaluated cell phone use among individuals who had died of brain cancer, there was an association between malignant brain tumors and cell phone use.2
Should cell phone users hang up or keep talking? We’ll have to stay tuned for future research. In the meantime we can limit our exposure to potentially dangerous radiation by keeping cell phone conversations brief, using a conventional phone whenever possible, and using a hands-free device to maximize the distance between the phone and the head.

Other Risks of Cell Phones
In addition to cancer risk, mobile phones can pose safety risks such as distraction during activities. Cell phone distraction is a particular concern when driving, and this includes using phones both to talk and to send text messages.
How common is cell phone use among drivers? Given the potential for distraction, maybe too common. A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Virginia, measured cell phone use while driving. Forty percent of people surveyed reported talking on a cell phone while driving at least a few times per week, and 13 percent said that they sent texts while driving. Texting rates were particularly high among young drivers.3

Frequency of cell phone use among drivers, such as the rates reported from Virginia, is especially concerning when we consider the impact of distracted driving on road safety. Researchers at the University of North Texas Science Center found that distracted driving is a growing public safety hazard and that distracted-driving fatalities have increased by 28 percent since 2005. An increase in texting in particular appeared to be related to this rise in traffic deaths.4

The safest way to use a phone while driving is not to use it. But if turning off your phone in the car is out of the question, use it sensibly. This includes using a hands-free device and any practices that keep your eyes off the screen and on the road, such as programming your phone to respond to voice activation. Texting while driving is never a safe option and neither is engaging in lengthy or distracting conversations. As well, hang up if you encounter hazardous road conditions.

Is Technology Making Us More Sedentary?
With dramatic increases reported in the past 20 years, overweight, obesity, and the accompanying health risks have become a critical national health concern. Our nation’s dietary habits have naturally taken much of the blame and so has the trend toward less physical activity. One suspected cause of our increasingly sedentary lifestyle is our growing use of technology, particularly in our leisure time.

As we spend more time communicating with our cell phones, monitoring social websites, playing video games, and the like, we’re less likely to get up and move in our free time. Such sedentary behavior, or lack of healthy amounts of physical activity, is a risk factor for obesity. Studies have linked physical inactivity with obesity, with some research evaluating the effect of TV viewing and other communication-based technology on inactivity. Though it’s been difficult for research to directly link media use with physical inactivity, technology remains under suspicion. The bottom line is this: more leisure time spent in front of a screen means less leisure time spent in motion.

It should be noted, however, that not all technophiles are enjoying screen time from the couch. Video games that require the players to move, called “exergames,” are a growing trend. Game systems including Nintendo’s Wii, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 use technology to track body movement so that users are actually simulating the motions of a sport instead of just operating a joystick.

Beyond Physical Health: Emotional and Psychological Effects
Impacts like driving hazards and obesity may be more obvious measures of technology’s influence on our health, but screen time may pose personal risks beyond the physical. How, for example, is our growing dependence on technology influencing our personal and family relationships?

Writer William Powers explores this question in Hamlet’s BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age (HarperCollins, 2010). Among the issues Powers addresses is the impact our “ultra-connected” lifestyle has on our personal and family relationships. He says that our relationship with technology can affect our bonds with one another, explaining that “as screen time rises, direct human-to-human interaction falls off proportionally.” Powers experienced this in his own home with what he calls the “Vanishing Family Trick”—a phenomenon marked by family members disappearing, one by one, from a gathering to check e-mail, send a text, and so forth.

When Powers and his family started turning off their home Internet connection for an entire weekend, he says that his family was able to connect on a deep and fulfilling level. Though he admits that the transition to offline weekends was a little rough at first, he says that they soon came to appreciate having more focus and time for one another. “We were really there with one another and nobody else, and we could all feel it,” he says. With such a reward, it’s easy to believe that most of us could benefit from turning off our phones and computers—particularly when we’re sharing time with others.

Another social and emotional concern surrounding our connected culture is the use of cell phones and the Internet to emotionally hurt, harass, or humiliate someone by sharing malicious comments or embarrassing photos. Known as “cyber-bullying,” this trend can be terribly hurtful and has even been implicated in suicides. As well, the ease with which we can contact and gather information about one another isn’t always used for good purposes. Personal information can fall into the wrong hands, and it’s possible to be contacted or “cyber-stalked” by someone with whom you’d prefer not to associate.

Balance
Like many of the choices we make related to our health, how we use technology is ultimately a personal decision. We each know the benefits and the opportunities we’ve enjoyed by being connected, but with an understanding that technology may pose certain risks and limit certain innate abilities (such as bonding and sharing with one another) we can choose to use technology in balance with time away from the screen for improved safety and health and, perhaps, deeper bonds with those we love.

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City residents opposed to having cell phone poles installed in residential areas hope the new position by the World Health Organization will help their cause

By: Amanda Waldroupe
July 27, 2011–Portland residents opposing the installation of cell towers in their neighborhoods think the World Health Organization’s recent announcement that cell phone use and cell towers can cause brain cancer will help their advocacy efforts.
“We’re of course encouraged,” said Anne Trudeau, one of the founders of RespectPDX, a grassroots coalition of Portland residents opposed to cell pole construction. “It corroborates what many people in the community have been saying.”

The World Health Organization (WHO), the branch of the United Nations dealing with public health, announced in May that increased cell phone use and the radiation emitted by cell phones may be possibly carcinogenic and increase the risk of brain cancer. By 2012, WHO will conduct a formal risk assessment of all studied health effects from such exposure.

Previously its position was that there was no conclusive evidence showing wireless devices cause adverse health effects. Many other organizations, including the National Cancer Institute, found that people using cell phones were at no higher risk of having brain, head or neck tumors.

Numerous Portlanders and neighborhood associations oppose the construction of poles with “wireless facilities,” the equipment and antennas needed to transmit cell phone signals, in their neighborhoods for health and livability reasons.
Wireless signals are sent by radiofrequencies, which emit non-ionizing radiation, a low form of radiation. Trudeau and others think the radiation can cause headaches, anxiety, insomnia and, potentially, cancer.

Residents have forcefully opposed pole construction for the last two years. The Irvington neighborhood used its status as a historic district to stop a pole from being installed on NE 22nd and NE Stanton. The Beaumont-Wilshire, Woodstock, and Eastmoreland neighborhoods have also strenuously opposed the poles.

But aside from advocacy, they’ve been unable to do much. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 prevents local and state governments from citing health and environmental factors in the placement of cell phone towers, transmitters and other wireless devices.

In 2009, Portland passed a resolution pushed by City Commissioner Amanda Fritz asking the federal government to refresh its studies on the health effects of wireless facilities. Such studies haven’t been updated since the mid-1990s.
“Congress has done nothing about it,” Fritz said.
Fritz said the city of Portland could sue the federal government or individual wireless companies, but she thinks that’s futile. “I’m not going to waste the city’s money on something we know we’re going to lose.”

Senate Bill 679, introduced in the Legislature by Sen. Chip Shields (D-Portland), would have required a warning label, including information about possible health and biological effects, be put on cell phones. The bill, which came under attack from the telecommunications lobby and the Portland Business Alliance, died.

Trudeau says RespectPDX is now focusing its efforts on strengthening Portland’s ordinance and ensuring that cell poles aren’t built in residential areas. But until the Telecommunications Act is changed to allow health concerns to inform construction decisions, Trudeau thinks “it doesn’t have that much effect.”
“Eventually, federal, state and local laws and ordinances will be pressured to ‘come around’ and let the health impact issues drive, at least in part, our policies about placement,” believes Susan Prows, an Irvington resident. “The WHO stance will help us eventually reach a tipping point on this, I hope.”

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8/19/2011
by BEEZY MARSH, Daily Mail

Mobile phones are at the centre of new safety fears after scientists found the first evidence of a link with brain cancer.
Users who spend more than an hour a day talking on a cell phone are almost a third more at risk of developing a rare form of brain tumour, a study has found.

The cancers were found most frequently on the side of the head to which the phone was held.
Scientists found the cancer link with digital mobiles, old- style analogue mobiles and digitalenhanced cordless phones.
The findings, published in the International Journal of Oncology, will renew health concerns among Britain’s 47million mobile users.
One expert said yesterday that another large-scale study would be needed to confirm the apparent link.
Radiation from mobile phones has been shown to alter the workings of brain cells and affect memory.

But the biggest British study three years ago, led by the Government’s former chief scientific adviser Sir William Stewart, found that there was no evidence of a risk to human health.
A report by the American National Cancer Institute in 2001 also failed to find a link between mobile phone use and brain cancer.
The latest findings are the first to show a link between the instruments and disease in humans.
In the study, lead researcher Professor Kjell Mild examined the medical records of 1,600 tumour victims who had been using mobile phones for up to ten years before diagnosis.
Professor Mild, a biophysicist at Orebro University in Sweden, said the evidence was clear: ‘The more you use phones and the greater number of years you have them, the greater the risk of brain tumours.’
Scientists compared tumour sufferers with a control group who led similar lives but did not use mobile phones.
They also compared sufferers with tumour victims who did not use mobile phones.
The study found that spending more than an hour a day on the phone increased the risk of a type of tumour known as acoustic neuroma by 30 per cent.
Such tumours occur in one of the nerves in the brain and can lead to deafness in one ear.
They are usually curable by surgery.
Although the cancer is rare, experts say numbers have increased from one tumour per 100,000 people in 1980 to about one per 80,000 today.
Dr Richard Sullivan, head of clinical programmes at Cancer Research UK, said: ‘These latest findings appear to show a link and that warrants further investigation.
‘We would need to see a large-scale study replicating these results before we could say whether they are significant.
‘Certainly the study appears to be robust.’

The National Radiological Protection Board said in a statement that it considers mobile phones safe in relation to cancer.
‘Radio waves do not have sufficient energy to damage genetic material in cells directly and therefore cannot cause cancer.’

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Mobile phone users may be at greater risk for brain tumors attacked, media reported Wednesday, quoting the latest research from the U.S.

In previous studies, some scientists had found a weak relationship between mobile phones and brain tumors, but there was no clear indication of what the risks faced by mobile phone users.

“We can not make any definitive conclusions about this,” said Dr. Deepa Subramaniam, director of “BrainTumorCenter” in “GeorgetownLombardiComprehensiveCancerCenter” in Washington, DC

“But this study, in addition to previous studies, continues to leave doubt that clung about the potential increased risk. So, once again, after so many years, we do not have the answers-road shortcuts.”

However, Joel Moskowitz, senior author of the study, said that “clearly there is a risk”. He is Director of the “Center for Family and Community Health” at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health.

“I will not allow the children to use mobile phone, or I at least would require them to use a headset device` `separate,” said Moskowitz.

“Looks like we all fail as a society or as the (residents) a planet because it merely disseminate this technology to the point that we face right now without doing a more thorough study of the potential dangers and how to protect themselves from danger. Clearly, we need to learn much more about this technology, “he said.

The researchers found that the use of mobile phones for a decade or longer resulted in increased 18 per cent risk of brain tumors may appear at the phone where it is used, Moskowitz said.

Moskowitz, however, reported China’s official news agency, Xinhua, believes that there are also potential dangers in other parts of the body – the genitals, for example – when the phone is placed in the pocket.

With so many people around the world using a telephone, even a small risk can be translated into many illnesses and deaths, he asserted.

Moskowitz warned, “We need to do a lot of research a much more comprehensive because the ransom really expensive and it seems wise to be more careful about this, especially in children, which has a network that is still growing and the size of the shell and the brain smaller.”

Last year, the Institute of Food and Drug Administration called on the U.S. for further research about the risks posed by mobile phone usage for a long time.

The agency urged that such studies focused on the health of children, pregnant women and fetuses as well as workers subject to exposure (exposure) high on the job.

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