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20/05/2011 - Mobile Phones and Brain Cancer - IARC's integrity in question?


Mobile Phones and Brain Cancer

Powerwatch joins with IEMFA and concerned scientists around the world to call for a postponement of the coming decision on carcinogenicity of radiofrequency (RF) and microwaves (MW) by WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

In collaboration with the International EMF Alliance (IEMFA), scientists from Europe, North America, Australia and Israel have sent an Open Letter to Dr. Christopher Wild, Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), calling for a postponement of the forthcoming meeting May 24-31, 2011 in Lyon, France, "Non-Ionizing Radiation, Part II: Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Field [includes mobile telephones]" at which determination of the carcinogenicity of cell phones and wireless technologies will be made.

The pdficon 'Open Letter to the International Agency for Research on Cancer' signed by international scientists and public officials asserts:

  1. No decision should be made by IARC on the carcinogenicity of radiofrequency radiation (RF/MW) until the Interphone Study's remaining elements are disclosed. To date, only the pooled 13-country data for glioma and meningioma elements have been published. Though the Interphone Study data was collected by 2004, the overall analysis of the risk of acoustic neuroma, parotid gland tumors and tumors in the regions of the brain most highly exposed to cellphone radiation has yet to be published. Also, single-country Interphone studies have not yet been fully published for Australia, Canada, Finland, Italy and New Zealand. However, other individual country studies that have been published show very significant risks for acoustic neuroma, parotid gland tumor and glioma. International scientists say scientific conclusions will only be possible when all of the country results, and all of the overall pooled results, are published.
  2. Telecom industry observers at the IARC meeting places a "chilling effect" on grant dependent researchers, and should be excluded. For example, the presence of observers Joe Elder, representing the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (previously a long-term Motorola Employee); Jack Rowley, representing the GSM Association (a previously long-term Telstra employee); and Mays Swicord representing the Cellular Telecommunication Industry Association (previously a long-term Motorola employee), create an environment of scientific intimidation and suppression through the presence of these influential corporate interests.
  3. IARC's required conflict of interest statements should be made public. Scientists say IARC, which calls itself "transparent", must release the conflict of interest statements, as do scientific journals, but IARC Officer, Dr Robert Baan, who will head the upcoming IARC meeting, has refused to release the IARC experts' conflict of interest statements, claiming they are confidential. It is inappropriate, and lacking in transparency, for a publicly funded organization, in this case funded with approximately 38 million Euros, to hide its conflict of interest statements from public view.
See Full Poster

We also understand that Professor Anders Ahlbom of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden is to Chair the IARC expert group on epidemiology. Professor Ahlbom has repeatedly stated that he believes that mobile phones are "safe" and we call for him to be replaced by a more neutral Chairman.

A recently published paper by International EMF Alliance co-founder, Don Maisch, PhD, of Australia, greatly elaborates on the conflicts of interest at WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). See Maisch-IARC-2011 Radiofrequency/Microwave Radiation and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) - The problem of conflict of interest and commercial influence in WHO agencies and the need for public interest representation.

Lloyd Morgan, brain tumour analyst and lead author of the landmark paper "Cellphones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern - Science, Spin and the Truth Behind Interphone" 15 Reasons for Concern Download the 2009 report (440 KB pdf) says:

"Leading international scientists fear that the telecom-influenced IARC, in the upcoming meeting in Lyon, can not be impartial because grant giving industry executives are observers and much of IARC's own 2004 data still remains inexplicably unpublished. If a decision is railroaded through in this scenario, indicating that RF/MW does not cause cancer, this would be a great disservice to public health globally and a sad day for science, as there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. There is evidence of risk of many cancers from long-term use of cell phones, including gliomas (brain cancer), acoustic neuromas (tumors of the acoustic nerve), meningiomas (tumors of the brain lining), salivary gland tumors, eye cancers, testicular cancers and leukemia."

Alasdair Philips of Powerwatch says:
"Letters from many scientists have been sent to Dr. Christopher Wild, Director of IARC, protesting that the meeting will judge on the carcinogenicity of RF/MW, criticising IARC for holding such a meeting 1) without full disclosure of the remaining 50% of the Interphone study results, six years after collecting the data; 2) without disclosure of the expert group on epidemiology's conflict of interest statements, and 3) with the heavy presence of powerful telecom industry observers at the meeting. Thus far, Dr. Wild has not adequately responded to the complaints received from global scientists demanding greater disclosure, accountability and transparency on this important matter. Without these essential ingredients, science looses all integrity."

Conflicts of interest at IARC are not new. In 2003, the Editor of The Lancet Oncology, David Collingridge, published an opinion on the lack of transparency in IARC "What does IARC have to lose?". "IARC's reputation, however, is being continually eroded by this lack of accountability. When considerations such as these are influencing decision-making, it is clearly time for the agency to undergo a full independent review of its operations to restore public confidence. It is essential that an international agency receiving about US$20 million per year from the taxpayers of 16 nations has unquestionable integrity. A policy of nondisclosure only breeds speculation and may also act to cement existing doubts about the validity of scientific decisions emanating from the agency."

A transparency issue still exists in the current IARC decision-making process, where the database of scientific studies being considered, and studies submitted by global scientists for consideration, have not been made public, rendering the greater scientific community unable to even know what science is being considered.

After partial results of the 13-country Interphone study were finally published in May 2010, Dr. Elizabeth Cardis, lead author of the Interphone study, and Siegal Sadetzki, who led the Israeli part of the study, separately subsequently published a commentary on brain tumor risks from cell phones in The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, urging caution. They said, "While more studies are needed, indications of an increased risk (of gliomas - a particularly dangerous form of brain tumour) in high and long-term users from Interphone and other studies are of concern ... Even a small risk at the individual level could eventually result in a considerable number of tumours and become an important public-health issue."

Read more about the Interphone Study on the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health CDC website NIOSH Science Blog.

Alex Swinkels, Co-founder of IEMFA, says, "It is clear from recent protests over the upcoming IARC meeting on RF/MW, and the earlier effort by Drs. Cardis and Sadetzki to clarify the risks in the Interphone study not previously emphasized by the Interphone Working Group's official statement, that scientists are increasingly not tolerating deceptions in science and commercial interests influencing regulatory bodies."

"IEMFA suggests it would behoove public health and government officials, as well as media, to listen carefully to non-commercially connected scientists and analysts expressing concern about biological effects of radiofrequency and microwave radiation, and to support the global movement underway toward greater transparency and integrity in science that has consequences for public health."

Download the full IEMFA pdficon Press Release including contact details for media professionals.

STOP PRESS - French TV Links IARC RF Panelist to Industry Interference

Just days before the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) begins its evaluation of the cancer risks associated with RF radiation, French national TV has accused one member of the IARC review panel of trying to suppress a study that points to a health risk from cell phones.

Read all about it at at the Microwave News website.

The UK Department of Health recently confirmed: "As a precaution, the UK Chief Medical Officers advise that children and young people under 16 should be encouraged to use mobile phones for essential purposes only, and to keep calls short. If you are concerned, you can take steps to reduce your exposure such as using hands free kits or texting."

How many parents and young people have been told this?

Evidence for an increase in temporal and frontal lobe brain tumours and for parotid (salivary) gland tumours after 10 years of mobile phone use is increasing. How many children who are now using a mobile phone will develop fatal tumours when they reach their 20s, 30s or even 40s? We just do not know, but the evidence is not looking good and is getting worse - we will post another news story with more details about this next week.

If you believe that your child, or grandchild, for some reason really needs a mobile phone, we suggest that you visit the MobileWise website and take their precautionary advice.

» Visit the MobileWise website.

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