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02/05/2008 - Experts fear mobile phones and brain tumour risk

Dr Bruce Armstrong, Professor for Public Health at Sydney University, has stated that he genuinely believes that the risk of increased tumours from mobile phone usage is very real. He is currently running the Australian arm of the international INTERPHONE project, and therefore speaks from a position of some authority.

Dr Armstrong made the comments on "Today Tonight", a major prime-time current affairs program in Australia, and the transcript was approximately as follows:

Armstrong: "I would not want to be a heavy user of a mobile phone. I think the evidence that has accumulated is pointing towards an effect of mobile phones on tumours. People might be shocked to hear that the evidence does seem to be coming more strongly in support of harmful effects."

Interviewer: "So what sort of harm are you talking about?"

Armstrong: "By harm, I mean production of brain tumours, acoustic nerve tumours, and possibly Parotid gland tumours - because some of these tumours are certainly fatal ... What was found was that there was evidence of a two-fold increase in risk of tumour."

Interviewer: "Do you think we should have waited?" [before Australia allowed phones to proliferate]

Armstrong: "I think the horse was well and truly out of the gate and off into the forest before people even started to think."

In itself this is a strong revelation, but it also follows a statement from the Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (RNCNIRP), which said two weeks ago that the health of future generations of children is under threat from mobile phone handsets.

Oleg Grigoriev, director of the Center for Electromagnetic Safety and RNCNIRP deputy chairman, said that the resolution mentioned above was based on the analysis of experiments held on animals of different age, principally rats and their embryos. The experiments proved the influence of electromagnetic radiation on developing organisms was strong. An electromagnetic field is an important factor that influences not only health but higher nervous activity including human behavior and mental activity. His advice was that children (by which the implication was pre-teenage) should use phones only in emergencies if at all, and that teenagers should "not talk more than 15 minutes on the handset, the ratio of the length of talk to resting before the next talk should be 1:5, which means having talked for one minute, one has to abstain from further calls for five minutes; when sleeping the handset should be 1 meter away from your head, or switched off."

This is in start contrast to comments last week made by Dr David Black of Auckland University in New Zealand. Dr Black is a consulting expert to ICNIRP, and therefore will have some degree of influence on the setting of residential and occupational EMF exposure standards. It is concerning to find therefore that he seems to be unaware of a number of studies pointing to increased risk in cancer from mobile phone handsets and their base stations.

His comments to a Fiji news source were that "non-ionised radiation as that from mobile phones and base stations does not cause cancer", and "it is very unlikely that any significant adverse effects will now be found". These definitive statements seem to fly in the face of recent science which appears to support the opposite. Over the last 10 years (since the last revision of ICNIRP guidelines to RF EMFs around mobile phone frequencies) there have been a number of papers finding evidence of cancer and other neurobehavioural effects from both mobile phones[1,2,3,4] and their base stations[5,6,7,8]. Perhaps Dr Black is unaware of these papers, but if so what is he doing acting as a consulting expert to an organisation such as ICNIRP? And, in contrast with countries such as Russia, China, France, Germany, and the UK, how can he justify following such comments with the statement that "it is safe for children to use mobile phones"?

Coverage of Bruce Armstrong's Comments - Coverage of Dr Bruce Armstrong's comments taken from Don Maisch's EMFacts.com website
View Comments on Video - View the video itself on Next-Up.org
RNCNIRP comments on risk to children - Coverage by CNews on the comments regarding children's health by Oleg Grigoriev from RCNCIRP
FijiLive coverage of Dr Black's comments - FijiLive coverage of Dr Black's comments


[1] Hardell L et al, (September 2007) Long-term use of cellular phones and brain tumours - increased risk associated with use for > 10 years, Occup Environ Med. 2007 Sep;64(9):626-32 [View Abstract]

[2] Hardell L et al, (October 2006) Tumour risk associated with use of cellular telephones or cordless desktop telephones, World J Surg Oncol 2006 Oct 11;4:74 [View Abstract]

[3] Lonn S et al, (November 2004) Mobile phone use and the risk of acoustic neuroma, Epidemiology. 2004 Nov;15(6):653-9 [View Abstract]

[4] Hardell L et al, (March 2003) Vestibular schwannoma, tinnitus and cellular telephones, Neuroepidemiology 2003 Mar-Apr;22(2):124-9 [View Abstract]

[5] Abdel-Rassoul G et al, (March 2007) "Neurobehavioral effects among inhabitants around mobile phone base stations". Neurotoxicology. 28(2):434-40 [View Abstract]

[6] Al-Khlaiwi T, Meo SA, (June 2004) "Association of mobile phone radiation with fatigue, headache, dizziness, tension and sleep disturbance in Saudi population". Saudi Med J. 25(6):732-6 [View Abstract]

[7] Wolf R, Wolf D, (April 2004) Increased incidence of cancer near a cell-phone transmitter station, International Journal of Cancer Prevention, 1(2) April 2004 [View Paper]

[8] Santini R et al, (July 2002) "Investigation on the health of people living near mobile telephone relay stations: I/Incidence according to distance and sex". Pathol Biol (Paris). 50(6):369-73 [View Abstract]

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