Health & Wellbeing

Massive study into link between cell phones and cancer is almost immediately irrelevant

Massive study into link betwee...
The narrow conclusion of a 10-year study is that high levels of radio frequency radiation can possibly cause heart tumors in male rats
The narrow conclusion of a 10-year study is that high levels of radio frequency radiation can possibly cause heart tumors in male rats
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The narrow conclusion of a 10-year study is that high levels of radio frequency radiation can possibly cause heart tumors in male rats
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The narrow conclusion of a 10-year study is that high levels of radio frequency radiation can possibly cause heart tumors in male rats

After more than 10 years of research, the US government's National Toxicology Program (NTP) has released its final report into the effects of radio frequency radiation (RFR), like that emitted by cell phones, on rats and mice. The results suggest that high levels of RFR exposure can cause some cancers in the animals, however the conclusions have been labeled as "weak" and impossible to equate to humans.

The study, commissioned well over a decade ago and costing $US30 million, concluded that exposure to high levels of RFR could be associated with "clear evidence" of heart tumors in male rats. The report also concluded there was "some evidence" of RFR causing tumors in the brains and adrenal glands of male rats. This incredibly narrow conclusion also notes that the evidence is unclear as to whether there is an association between these cancers and RFR in female rats, or mice in general.

So what does all this mean to the average person walking down the street with an iPhone to their ear? Virtually nothing.

The study concentrated on RFR frequencies used by 2G and 3G mobile phones. While 2G networks are still prevalent in Africa and South America, most phones in the US, Asia and Europe utilize 3G and 4G technology. Newer technologies often employ higher frequencies than the primary 900 megahertz frequency used by 2G technology. The upcoming 5G generation in particular focuses on a higher frequency band than any previous iteration, and there is a suggestion that higher frequency bands are less successful at penetrating the bodies of animals.

Michael Wyde, lead toxicologist on the NTP studies, cannot say whether 5G technologies would be more or less safe than the RFR frequencies examined in this study, but he does clearly note that its effects may be significantly different from what this research investigated.

"5G is an emerging technology that hasn't really been defined yet," says Wyde. "From what we currently understand, it likely differs dramatically from what we studied."

Other than the fact that the technology the study focused on has already become outdated, the exposure levels the animals were subjected to could not at all be compared to what a human is normally subjected to. The highest exposure level in the research was around four times higher than the maximum legal limit, and the animals received radiation across their entire body. John Bucher, a senior scientist working on the NTP project, openly admits that this kind of RFR exposure is not at all comparable to human cell phone use.

"The exposures used in the studies cannot be compared directly to the exposure that humans experience when using a cell phone," says Bucher.

Kevin McConway, from Open University, says the research tells us nothing about the risk of phone use in humans, and even the evidence that RFR causes tumors in rats is "pretty weak." So what does this study tell us then?

"Well, it establishes that, under certain conditions radiation of the same kind as produced by some mobile phones, but generally much stronger and much longer lasting, can lead to an increase in a certain type of tumor in certain rats," says McConway. "That's worth knowing, but it's a bit like a hypothetical experiment where rats are run over by heavy boulders. That would doubtless establish that heavy boulders have the potential to harm rats, but it doesn't tell us anything at all about the risk to humans arising from the existence of heavy boulders in the world. To investigate that risk requires a completely different type of research."

The big line coming out of this research is that RFR is associated with "clear evidence of tumors in the hearts of male rats." While this statement is essentially an accurate conclusion from the expansive and rigorous study, it can easily be misinterpreted by more hyperbolic news outlets. In fact, a quick glance at some reporting of this news reveals incredibly disingenuous headlines, such as, "'Clear evidence' mobile phones ARE linked to cancer, landmark study finds" and "Landmark study finds cellphones are linked to cancer."

The truth is that cell phones are no more or less safe than they were yesterday, and over a decade of relatively inconclusive research has struggled to find a clear connection between their use and cancer. Even this new study presents some strikingly incongruous findings.

Alongside the cancer risk only being clearly identified in male rats, and not females, those male rats exposed to RFR strangely displayed, on average, longer lifespans. This was hypothesized to be explained by an associated decrease in chronic kidney problems observed in the exposed male rats. So high levels of RFR exposure can decrease the chances of chronic kidney problems? No one is seriously suggesting that, just like no one can confidently claim that cell phones cause cancer.

Source: National Toxicology Program

7 comments
Grumpyrelic
Great! After centuries of prodding, poking and causing suffering and death at the hands of scientists, the rats have put one over on them to the tune of $US 30 million. Stupid rats are well on their way to outliving smart humans on this planet.
Knut
The USA is "riding in the sidecar" here, the bulk of the research has never been done in the US because the technology is not developed in the US. The US has aggressively developed a technology that is not used. The research in Europe, based on the ITU-T standards, confirm what the National Toxicology Program reports, but there are much more research into cognitive functions: how mice find ways (geography) and how mice remember - a Nobel price has gone this way and is not even considered. If the US is around 3rd generation, most countries in Africa are ahead of the US. Most countries in South and Central America have better data services than the US. The article is correct in that the new network will try to increase energy dramatically using higher frequencies. Since this contradict most user requests, it is Americans that believe this has a future. When a technology require more energy, this energy must be stored and a battery has a limited capacity. If we need more energy, you can use this to boil water, and not fry brains. Water boils in about the same temperature in the US as in Europe. I suggest you, and the US institution keep track of the research done outside the USA, in particular to mobile phone technology. Cancer may not be the big aspect to track, but functions like memory. If this world is faced by a massive mass dementia would be bad, and certainly should those that are raised in the US suffer more that others.
paul314
If higher-frequency rf radiation is less effective in penetrating bodies, that's another way of saying that more of it is absorbed in near-surface regions. Not clear whether that's a good thing.
jerryd
This is not viable at all. Microwaves can't get past 1/8" of skin from the water in it, shorts out microwaves. And new cellphones use much less power to transmit making it even harder. If they are not getting skin cancer first is another red flag. As an ET for 50 yrs we live in a sea of microwaves and many have 50 yrs at power levels 10k x as high as cellphones from commercial radio, TV towers, radar, many other sources.
ljaques
That they would continue a study on outdated technology is ridiculous. The massive number of towers in a 5G cloud scares the er, =peace= out of me. The Gas company already proved to me that these RF-emitting devices can harm us. I came home from vacation and found that I couldn't sleep well for two nights. I was getting the mail the next day when I noticed a brand new natural gas regulator and meter on the house. After a call to the gas company revealed that it was transmitting for at least 5 miles, I put up a shield between my house and the device, and have slept like a baby ever since. That surprised me, as I hadn't been convinced until then. Yes, there are some really bad headlines out there by our famous MSM which only serve to confuse the issue. But check a few of the backstories, such as the deaths at SDSU from the cell tower, the original report to the FCC re: smart meter safety. Then it starts to hit you how much has been stuffed under the rug. http://christianobserver.net/san-diego-state-university-brain-cancer-cluster-from-cell-tower/ http://www.electrosmogprevention.org/public-health-alert/smart-meters-radiation-exposure-up-to-160-times-more-than-cell-phones-hirsch/
KimW
Just remember that Monsanto has been producing studies that state that “Round up” ( base for agent orange) doesn’t cause us any harm either. At 65 I’m surrounded by peers who are suffering from cancers myself included. Money is the motivation here. This study is worthless as far as real human reactions to 3/4/5 g technologies. It wasn’t combined with the other factors that all cell users have in common. The amount of RF that the human body is exposed to on a daily basis has increased by how much just in the last decade ?
Vita
Glad you mention frequencies, what about higher powered arrays of transmitting elements? I have wireless data links, using mostly a single brand, the devices and antennas for the devices working at the 900MHz band come with a warning for close exposure to it. Still, they're very low power overall. I've been interested in microwave radiation at higher powers for the longest time, years ago finally found something that kept me satisfied and stopped. At the microwave frequencies, the very beginning from the 1600-1800 and up concentrated energy is just heat, before the ionizing ranges. This is all I needed, but since I've also been interested in data transmission and tech of that kind in general, I started researching stuff like really high-powered transmitters, like satellite uplinks, the huge feedhorns, and the magnetrons (same as in microwave ovens) powering them, and TV and radio stations and realized the lengths either governments or companies (not sure) in the sector go to cover this up. This one time I had this show I used to DVR and later put on the background while did work or something, Mythbusters, where obviously they have the funds to test further but grossly glossed over because it was forbidden to climb a working transmitter but "it was safe". I knew however, from my previous research that transmitting antennas are extremely dangerous, to work in live ones power is turned low and people working on the have meters that play warning loud warning sounds if power levels are too high. This is in addition to the metal suit needed to be around the antennas, a Faraday cage turned suit, essentially, and even then, they can caught on fire from the radiation. I needed to know more at that point so I went looking from another angle and tried commercial radio transmitter documentation, as if I were an interested about; even the lower-powered stuff, say 10KW has the most stringent regs for installation and what not. There's stuff in there such as do not turn on without a transmitting element, how to do proper grounding and lots of content about avoiding arching--as free forming, unconfined plasma strikes. I got so disgusted out by the way the show handled it I stopped watching and found other about dog breeds to replace it--not the point. If they were maybe told to put a positive spin on the matter, maybe best not to show it at all, but they chose to misinform and that I think is deplorable.