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Lloyd Morgan's Column

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Brief commentary on the latest Interphone Study (Lahkola et al, 2007)

The latest Interphone study has just been published [1]. It reports on the findings of the risk of glioma (brain cancer) in 5 northern European countries from cellphone use.

This Interphone study shows, once again, a risk of a brain tumor on the same side of the head as where the cellphone was used. This study confirms a Swedish study, independent of cellphone industry funding, by Lennart Hardell and his team.

This is the fifth of eight Interphone studies to show a risk of brain tumors from cellphone use. The Interphone studies all use a common protocol (procedure) that is, in the opinion of this author, designed to not find either any risk or to substantially water down any risk of brain tumors from cellphone use. For example, the Interphone protocol defines a regular user as a person who has used a cellphone once a week for 6 months or more. Further, the diagnosis years included in this Interphone study, September 2000 and February 2004, guarantees that very few long-term cellphone users will be included in the study. Indeed, is this study only 43 (2.8%) with brain cancers on the same side of the head as the cellphone use were found out of the total of 1,522 glioma brain cancer cases.

To illustrate how this definition of "regular users" and the exclusion of long-term users affect the study, consider a study of smokers and the risk of lung cancer where a regular smoker is someone who has smoked a cigarette for once a week for 6 months or more with only 2.8% smoking for 10 or more years. Would such a study find a risk of lung cancer?

Because the Interphone studies, using a dubious protocol, are substantially funded by the cellphone industry these findings are even more alarming.

Yes, the industry funding does not go directly to the research teams. The funding of the Interphone studies is given to a European cancer organization, the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) who chooses the research teams. This study was published in the International Journal of Cancer, a publication of the UICC.

The researchers are bound to use a dubious protocol. They also understand that their funds came from the cellphone industry. This creates an inherent conflict of interest best describe by the old adage, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you."

The bottom line is that this study, regardless of the facts that its abstract proclaims, "We found no evidence of increased risk of glioma related to regular mobile phone use," it was designed to find nothing (i.e., no harm), and it was funded by the cellphone industry, actually provides evidence confirming once gain that exposure to cellphone radiation is dangerous to our health.


References

  1. Lahkola et al (2007), Mobile phone use and risk of glioma in 5 North European countries. Int J Cancer. 2007 Jan 17; [Epub ahead of print]