Do Cell Phones Cause Brain Tumors? Debate Rages

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by Don Reisinger | October 21, 2011

A controversial study holds to an earlier claim that mobile phone use does not increase a person’s risk of developing a brain tumor.
The study, which was published in the British Medical Journal yesterday, argues that even after using a cell phone for more than a decade, a person’s chances of getting a brain tumor are about the same as they would be without cell phone use. The study, which is an update to previous research that found no link between mobile phone use and cancer, examined the instances of brain tumors among long-term cell phone users in Denmark.

“In this update of a large nationwide cohort study of mobile phone use, there were no increased risks of tumours of the central nervous system, providing little evidence for a causal association,” the study’s authors write in their conclusion.

That finding, however, prompted a quick and vigorous rebuttal. After the study was published, researchers from the U.K., U.S., Australia, and elsewhere around the world said that the Denmark study was “seriously flawed” and should not be considered a definitive source for information on the risk of contracting a brain tumor after prolonged mobile phone use.

“From the way it was set up originally, this deeply flawed study was designed to fail to find an increased risk of brain tumors tied with cellphone use,” Devra Davis, a cancer epidemiologist and president of Environmental Health Trust, said in a statement. “In order for any study of a relatively rare disease like brain tumors to find a change in risk, millions must be followed for decades.

“By extending an earlier analysis on the same group of cellphone users this new report provides unsurprising, biased and misleading conclusions,” Davis continued. “It uses no direct information on cell phone use, fails to consider recent and rapidly changing nature and exposure to microwave radiation from cellphones, cordless phones and other growing sources, and excludes those who would have been the heaviest users–namely more than 300,000 business people in the 1990s who are known to have used phones four times as much as those in this study.”

It’s that last element–leaving businesspeople out–that has caused the most outcry among researchers. But the study has also been criticized for not including cell phone data on users who might have only entered into mobile subscriptions since 1995.

“It ignores corporate subscribers (the heaviest users then) and the researchers have no data at all on cellphone use since 1995 so the extra 86 percent of the population who started to use a cellphone since 1996 were left in the ‘non subscriber part of the population,'” Alasdair Philips, an expert in electromagnetic health at Powerwatch in the U.K., said in a statement.

The debate over whether mobile phones cause brain tumors has been hotly contested by those on both sides of the argument. In early July, a study from the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection Standing Committee on Epidemiology found that the “the accumulating evidence is increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults.”

Less than two weeks later, a study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that concluded people who have used a cell phone for 11 to 15 years were just as likely to develop a brain tumor as those who have not.

But the World Health Organization said earlier this year that mobile phones can potentially cause cancer, and has listed handsets as a “carcinogenic hazard.” Although the WHO stopped short of saying that there is definitely a link between cancer and mobile phones, several studies over the years have drawn that conclusion.

So, regardless of the study or the organization releasing them, at least for now, it appears there’s no way to know for sure if cell phones do cause brain tumors. And with each new study, it’s clear one side will inevitably try to debunk the other side’s findings.

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Ghana, Accra,
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Newark New Jersey USA
Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo
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Report on Wireless Safety Summit, Washington, DC, 5-6 October 2011

Wireless Safety, Wireless Safety Protection

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21 OCTOBER 2011
The Wireless Safety Summit took place on Capitol Hill in Washington DC from 5-6 October 2011. The Summit was organized by the Center for Safer Wireless. Activists and individuals attended, including many by computer from other parts of the United States, Canada, Israel, South Africa and Switzerland.

On the first day, there were presentations from scientists and medical professionals on the health effects of electromagnetic fields, cell phone research, effects of microwave radiation on the heart, wireless safety standards, and smart meters. Speakers included Dr. Devra Davis, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Trust (and author of “Disconnect: The Truth about Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family”) who talked about the latest developments on cell phones and children, and Dr. Martin Blank, Associate Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University Medical Center, who spoke about the health effects of electromagnetic fields.

The second day was devoted to a briefing on how to talk to Congressional staff and Committees and then actually meeting with these persons. Jim Turner, a seasoned Washington, DC insider who worked with activist Ralph Nader, provided guidance before scheduled meetings with Congressional staff. Participants in Washington DC went to Congressional offices to share their perspectives in meetings.

Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) gave an excellent speech about placing human health above profit when we see a danger, or even a potential danger to human health.

Individuals and 26 activist organizations came together to express their concerns during the Summit and delivered a core message to Congressional staff.

“On behalf of the American people, we request that the Congress and the Administration take
three actions immediately to ensure greater health and safety protection from electromagnetic radiation hazards for precautionary reasons:
1. Convene Congressional hearings to feature testimony from scientific experts and public advocates regarding the experimental, clinical and epidemiological evidence on human health and environmental effects of electromagnetic radiation.

2. Ask the U.S. Surgeon General issue a report and call for precautionary warnings on the use of cell phones, Wi-Fi, and other radiofrequency/microwave emitting devices, including transmitters that are creating chronic, involuntary exposure conditions. The report should be accompanied by a public health advisory, supported by a review of similar advisories and policies, that have been issued world-wide, recommending greater health and safety protection, especially those that relate to children, pregnant women, people who wear surgically implanted electronic or metal devices for medical reasons, people who are mildly to severely electromagnetically hypersensitive, people who work under more intensive radiofrequency/microwave exposure conditions, and other major risk factors. It should also include special consideration of recent independent evaluations, such as those issued by the International Agency on Research on Cancer for the World Health Organization, the U.S. President’s Cancer Panel Report of 2009-10, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Report on radio frequency radiation, of 2008.

3. Place an immediate moratorium on Federal funding intended to further deploy the smart grid infrastructure pending an independent review of how the goals of connectivity, speed and accuracy can be met with technologies that do less harm and do not endanger national security and individual privacy.

There are eight actions we ask Congress and the Administration to take in 2012 to further
provide health and safety protections for the American people:
1. Repeal federal laws and regulations that preempt state and local control over the siting
and management of cellular antennas, smart grid and wireless broadband infrastructure to
permit local control over antenna placement, setting up buffer zones, reduce the number of
multiple carriers and require pooling of services, monitoring of emissions with full public
disposure and enforcement, and require transparent, federal interagency procedures for
setting public health based electromagnetic field human exposure standards.
2. Initiate a federally sponsored, sustained and independent EMF research program to focus
on the biological and health effects of electromagnetic fields. The mission of this program
would be to conduct, sponsor and review research; to review proposed technologies for
their potential impact on health and the environment; to develop biologically based
standards; and, to make policy recommendations that protect health and safety.
3. Direct the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to adopt lower, interim Specific Absorption
Ratio (SAR) standards for wireless communications devices, pending development of
biologically based data.
4. Expand the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection’s mission and staffing to
participate in the development of safety standards, including interim electromagnetic
radiofrequency human exposure guidelines for transmitting antennas pending development of biologically based guidelines.
5. Direct the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate the radiological properties of
consumer products that emit microwave-level radio frequency radiation, including cell
phones, personal Wi- Fi, baby monitors, cordless phones, smart utility meters, children’s
toys, etc.
6. Reestablish the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s capability to test electromagnetic
radiation emissions from antennas, to monitor and report emissions from antennas, and
inform citizens about what they are being exposed to, and to recommend mitigation
techniques at no or low cost.
7. Provide federal incentives to encourage local zoning that permits low EMF zones that do
not have wireless transmitters or power lines where people can choose to live and work.
8. Ensure current Federal disability and civil rights legal protections are available to people
who have surgically implanted electronic or metal devices for medical reasons, or who are
electromagnetically hypersensitive, and to assist these people to gain equal access to health
care, housing, jobs, transportation, education, and other public services, and have their
needs fairly accommodated.

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Switzerland, Bern,
Eritrea, Asmara,
Cambodia, Phnom Penh,
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Holland, Amsterdam,
Comoros, Moroni (on Grande Comoro),

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