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19/08/2008 - More Clinicians speak out about brain tumour risk from mobile phones

Mobile phones and possible associations with brain cancer continue to be in the national headlines. The latest to speak out is Ronald Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Herberman sent a memo to thousands of staff members saying that "users should not wait for definitive studies, and should take action now", adding that children should only use phones in emergencies and adults should keep the phone away from their head.

"We shouldn't wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later. I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cell phone use."

Dr Ronald Herberman, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

His concerns were also echoed this month by Dr Keith Goh, a neurosurgeon from Malaysia, who claims to be seeing increases in the proportion of brain cancers that are malignant, and in the incidence rates or brain cancers as a whole.

Powerwatch comments logoThis is another example of an individual with a prominent position in a field relating to cancer issues speaking out against the unregulated use of mobile phones. It supports the calls in the BioInitiative report for a precautionary approach to using the technology which, as the science currently stands, shows warnings over the potential health risks of long term usage. These concerns are also well supported by the UK Department of Health's guide to "Mobile Phones and Health", which recommends that calls should be kept as short as possible and children and young people under 16 should only use their phone in emergencies.

Dr Marc Chamberlain, a neuro-oncologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, claims that these comments are "I consider it alarmist, premature and without any scientific basis," which sadly shows how misinformed senior clinicians can be. The first also in the news story has a number of references showing cellular damage caused by mobile telephony radiation, and the references in this story link to a number of epidemiological papers showing possible signs of an increase in brain cancer from extended mobile phone usage[refs].


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

2. Schoemaker MJ et al, (October 2005) Mobile phone use and risk of acoustic neuroma: results of the Interphone case-control study in five North European countries, Br J Cancer. 2005 Oct 3;93(7):842-8 [View on Pubmed]

3. 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 on Pubmed]

4. 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 on Pubmed]

5. Sadetzki S et al, (February 2008) Cellular Phone Use and Risk of Benign and Malignant Parotid Gland Tumors A Nationwide Case-Control Study, Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Dec 6 [Epub ahead of print] [View on Pubmed]


Coverage on BBC News - Coverage on BBC News
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute website - University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute website
BioInitiative report website - BioInitiative report website
Department of Health Mobile Phones and Health advice - Department of Health Mobile Phones and Health advice

Also in the news

Lai and Singh explain how the industry tried to get them sacked for their research

Eminent scientist Professor Henry Lai and his colleague Narandra "NP" Singh have spoken out again about their research into mobile phone radiation and cellular damage, and the attempts of the industry to stop them from carrying out their work.

Lai comments on how the attempts ranged from simply removing or redirecting University of Washington funds to direct attempts to get both researchers fired from the institution.

Lai and Singh have authored a number of papers showing DNA strand breaks and other cellular damage in rats caused by mobile phone radiation, which give supporting grounds that there may be other long term health effects from extensive use of mobile phones[3 refs]. There have been a large number of papers confirming these findings in other laboratories since they ceased their work[9 refs]. It is also important to note that whilst there are a number of papers that have failed to find an effect, the ratio of studies showing an effect to not showing an effect is about 1:1. If the association was by chance would expect significant results in 5% of papers, giving a ratio of 1:19. This is all part of the steadily growing evidence that there is a real issue of cellular damage from mobile telephony and associated pulsed RF electromagnetic radiation.


Coverage on Seattle PI - Coverage on Seattle PI

Lai references

1. Lai H et al, (May 1989) Low-level microwave irradiation and central cholinergic systems, Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1989 May;33(1):131-8 [View on Pubmed]

2. Lai H et al, (1994) Microwave irradiation affects radial-arm maze performance in the rat, Bioelectromagnetics. 1994;15(2):95-104 [View on Pubmed]

3. Lai H, Singh NP, (May 2004) Magnetic-field-induced DNA strand breaks in brain cells of the rat, Environ Health Perspect. 2004 May;112(6):687-94 [View on Pubmed]

Other references

4. D'Ambrosio G et al, (January 2002) Cytogenetic damage in human lymphocytes following GMSK phase modulated microwave exposure, Bioelectromagnetics. 2002 Jan;23(1):7-13 [View on Pubmed]

5. Salford L et al, (June 2003) Nerve cell damage in mammalian brain after exposure to microwaves from GSM mobile phones, Environ Health Perspect 2003 Jun;111(7):881-3; discussion A408 [View on Pubmed]

6. Nylund R, Leszcynski D, (September 2006) Mobile phone radiation causes changes in gene and protein expression in human endothelial cell lines and the response seems to be genome- and proteome-dependent, Proteomics 2006 Sep;6(17):4769-80 [View on Pubmed]

7. Oral B et al, (November 2006) Endometrial apoptosis induced by a 900-MHz mobile phone: preventive effects of vitamins E and C, Adv Ther. 2006 Nov-Dec;23(6):957-73 [View on Pubmed]

8. Ferreira A et al, (December 2006) Ultra high frequency-electromagnetic field irradiation during pregnancy leads to an increase in erythrocytes micronuclei incidence in rat offspring, Life Sci 2006 Dec 3;80(1):43-50 [View on Pubmed]

9. Nittby H et al, (November 2007) Cognitive impairment in rats after long-term exposure to GSM-900 mobile phone radiation, Bioelectromagnetics. 2007 Nov 28 [Epub ahead of print] [View on Pubmed]

10. Manti L et al, (May 2008) Effects of Modulated Microwave Radiation at Cellular Telephone Frequency (1.95 GHz) on X-Ray-Induced Chromosome Aberrations in Human Lymphocytes In Vitro, Radiat Res. 2008 May;169(5):575-83 [View on Pubmed]

11. George DF et al, (May 2008) Non-thermal effects in the microwave induced unfolding of proteins observed by chaperone binding, Bioelectromagnetics. 2008 May;29(4):324-30 [View on Pubmed]

12. Yao K et al, (May 2008) Electromagnetic noise inhibits radiofrequency radiation-induced DNA damage and reactive oxygen species increase in human lens epithelial cells, Mol Vis. 2008 May 19;14:964-9 [View on Pubmed]

BioInitiative authors publish paper on appropriate precaution for EMF exposure

David Carpenter and Cindy Sage, two of the primary authors of the BioInitiative report, have just published a paper entitled "Setting Prudent Public Health Policy for Electromagnetic Field Exposures".

This paper outlines changes in exposure to ELF and RF frequencies, covering AM and FM radio transmissions, overhead powerlines, mobile phones and their base stations, and how these exposures relate to risk factors for leukaemia, brain cancer and other adverse health effects.

How to apply the uncertain evaluation of science to drawing effective and suitably precautionary public guidance is a highly complex issue. The authors attempt to address it in this paper, drawing reference to other environmental exposures and how they are addressed in current legislation, and discuss suitable ways of assessing both RF and ELF EMFs without having a generally acknowledged level of causation for either.


BioInitiative report website - BioInitiative report website

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