GA Russell

Mobile phones more dangerous than smoking or asbestos

29 posts in this topic

I read some time ago that the danger in cell phones was from the old analog phones which no longer exist, and that the digital phones are safe. But here's a report that suggests otherwise.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/he...2602.html?r=RSS

By Geoffrey Lean

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take "immediate steps" to reduce exposure to their radiation.

The study, by Dr Vini Khurana, is the most devastating indictment yet published of the health risks.

It draws on growing evidence – exclusively reported in the IoS in October – that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.

Earlier this year, the French government warned against the use of mobile phones, especially by children. Germany also advises its people to minimise handset use, and the European Environment Agency has called for exposures to be reduced.

Professor Khurana – a top neurosurgeon who has received 14 awards over the past 16 years, has published more than three dozen scientific papers – reviewed more than 100 studies on the effects of mobile phones. He has put the results on a brain surgery website, and a paper based on the research is currently being peer-reviewed for publication in a scientific journal.

He admits that mobiles can save lives in emergencies, but concludes that "there is a significant and increasing body of evidence for a link between mobile phone usage and certain brain tumours". He believes this will be "definitively proven" in the next decade.

Noting that malignant brain tumours represent "a life-ending diagnosis", he adds: "We are currently experiencing a reactively unchecked and dangerous situation." He fears that "unless the industry and governments take immediate and decisive steps", the incidence of malignant brain tumours and associated death rate will be observed to rise globally within a decade from now, by which time it may be far too late to intervene medically.

"It is anticipated that this danger has far broader public health ramifications than asbestos and smoking," says Professor Khurana, who told the IoS his assessment is partly based on the fact that three billion people now use the phones worldwide, three times as many as smoke. Smoking kills some five million worldwide each year, and exposure to asbestos is responsible for as many deaths in Britain as road accidents.

Late last week, the Mobile Operators Association dismissed Khurana's study as "a selective discussion of scientific literature by one individual". It believes he "does not present a balanced analysis" of the published science, and "reaches opposite conclusions to the WHO and more than 30 other independent expert scientific reviews".

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If the malignant tumors can be suffered by those with bad cell phone manners and/or those who drive with the cell phone stuck to their ear, I'm all for it.

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It draws on growing evidence – exclusively reported in the IoS in October – that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.

I'd be interested to see the study itself. Statistics like this can be extremely misleading - if your chance of developing brain cancer was %.042 before using a cell phone, then if that chance doubled it would be a whopping %.084 - definitely a double in risk, but maybe not a huge health scare for the world.

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Just trashed my cell phone and lit a Camel up, thanks.

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This is how it works:

Somebody (in this case, Dr. Khurana) publishes an alarming find and gets enough exposure to establish his/her name and pave the way for a book.

Not long thereafter, another doctor publishes a finding that essentially voids the first finding, and may even go a step farther: Call phones stimulate brain and stem development of Alzheimers disease. Good for complexion, too.

Khurana has stepped out of obscurity, made good money on lectures, etc., and given a colleague a like path to fame (albeit temporary) and fortune (subject to growth through sound investment). Wait long enough, and yet another finding knocks this one down....

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Sounds like headline-grabbing quasi-science to me. Given that cellphones are basically glorified radios, then what's any more dangerous about them than radios? The good doc doesn't propose any causal mechanism, so it's hard to put any credence in the claims.

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There's some stuff in mobiles that's mined in the Congo and the miners have been dropping dead of cancer.

MG

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It draws on growing evidence – exclusively reported in the IoS in October – that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.

I'd be interested to see the study itself. Statistics like this can be extremely misleading - if your chance of developing brain cancer was %.042 before using a cell phone, then if that chance doubled it would be a whopping %.084 - definitely a double in risk, but maybe not a huge health scare for the world.

Two things to think about:

1) Dan's point -- without knowing the baseline, it's tough to assess the significance of a doubling in rates.

2) I don't know how global cell phone usage compares to cigarette or asbestos exposure -- so even if this does turn out to be a "massive public health problem", the individual risk may nevertheless be quite low.

I haven't seen the paper and don't see any reason to dismiss this out of hand. This guy is not a crackpot but rather a well-respected surgeon. That said, without more details, I think some skepticism is in order. I am having some difficulty finding information about Khurana's actual study beyond this sensationalist article, so if someone has a link, please share.

Edited by Guy

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IMHO the main problems with these kind of news, and I mean all of them, included the GMF, global warming, nuclear power plants, new medicines, etc. are:

1) the goal of journalists is to get big headlines, so the contents of the articles are often lacking of scientific evidences.

2) a reliable scientific research should collect at least twenty years of datas on a big sample, expecially in long term disease like cancer.

3) the debate among scientists is poisoned by the big interests involved in such things.

The final result is that for common people is almost impossible to reach a correct information about issues that involves their health.

I want you to remember that ages ago they started to feed strictly vegetarian animals with meat derived food (and antiobiotics and steroid and God knows what else) in order to maximize the grown, they said it was perfectly safe, and we had the mad cow disease.

And what about the latest mozzarella's dioxin scandal?

Well, since I'll still have a brain, I have the right to know in wich kind of way I am poisoned.

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Time to go fill the gas tank on my car and make a call while waiting for it to fill. If something goes "poof" I'll continue the call from the emergency room. :ph34r: As I recuperate in the hospital I'll make a list of all the cds and cdrs that went bad in the interim. Edit to say I'll be smoking the whole time.

Edited by Chuck Nessa

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1) the goal of journalists is to get big headlines, so the contents of the articles are often lacking of scientific evidences.

2) a reliable scientific research should collect at least twenty years of datas on a big sample, expecially in long term disease like cancer.

Part of the problem is that long-term medical studies can't always use controlled experiments -- that means you have to rely on statistical techniques to tease out causal relationships. And if the statistical techniques are not up to snuff scientists can get spurious correlations. In combination with distorted incentives for academics and scientific publications (I don't think the bias is solely with mainstream journalists), this can lead to incorrect research being published in the short term.

Guy

Edited by Guy

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In combination with distorted incentives for academics and scientific publications (I don't think the bias is solely with mainstream journalists), this can lead to incorrect research being published in the short term.

Boy, ain't that the truth. And, from what I understood from reading the article, this doctor did not do any type of double blind study (or otherwise) himself. He's basically reviewing previous studies and coming to a different conclusion. Or did I not understand that correctly.

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If the malignant tumors can be suffered by those with bad cell phone manners and/or those who drive with the cell phone stuck to their ear, I'm all for it.

We should be so lucky.

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1) the goal of journalists is to get big headlines, so the contents of the articles are often lacking of scientific evidences.

2) a reliable scientific research should collect at least twenty years of datas on a big sample, expecially in long term disease like cancer.

Part of the problem is that long-term medical studies can't always use controlled experiments -- that means you have to rely on statistical techniques to tease out causal relationships. And if the statistical techniques are not up to snuff scientists can get spurious correlations. In combination with distorted incentives for academics and scientific publications (I don't think the bias is solely with mainstream journalists), this can lead to incorrect research being published in the short term.

Guy

Correct, though I am nor a blind believer of the optimistic view of a good Science that will save our planet and lifes.

Since scientific researches cost Big Money, the guys with the big cigar, and the stockholders, want short term results. Not exactly the best premise for serious, and costly, long-term medical studies.

The facts that global long-term social costs are beyond the goal of a private company, and politician's time-space is limited up the next election, make me deeply sceptical.

Maybe I am wrong and cynical, but I see the today's system like this: if, after twenty years, they'll get the evidence that cell phones caused brain' cancers, they would replace with something else, "totally safe". Meantime Nokia and Motorola Groups have had entered in the market of anti-cancer medicine, buying a consistent numbers of stocks of pharmaceutical companies. And so on.

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I have an almost 15-year old daughter. For her (and all her friends) cell phones are a "way of life".

I can't say this study (and others) doesn't concern me. I share porcy's skepticism.

I got rid of my (business) land line a few months back, and, as far as I'm concerned, the inverse-square law is my friend. I sometimes spend hours on the phone during the day, and the cell phone is on the other side of the room. Junk science or not, I hate talking on that damn thing, so I have a gadget that hooks it up to my "regular" phone.

Cell phones may be "glorified radios", but no normal radio puts out anywhere near that much electromagnetic energy. Plus, I'd bet that most of us don't hold our radios up to the side of our heads for hours!

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Now I feel an unusual bump on my head. Dang.

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Cell phones are not anywhere near comparable to radios. Cell phones operate at microwave frequencies, totally different ballgame. Plus you hold them right next to your head. However, digital phones (which includes all those sold in recent years) emit far less powerful radiation, because it is pulsed. I would be mildly surprised, but not incredulous, to learn that there is still a danger.

BTW, according to SEER the brain/nervous cancer incidence rate is about .007% (i.e. about 7 in 100,000). However, I wouldn't take too much comfort in that. If the devices really do increase the risk, then you have to wonder what other effects they may be having.

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IMHO global market and science are out of control, I mean that citizens have no longer the informations, ergo, we are going towards a undemocratic world.

I tell you a story about junk food, a well known italian potato chip brand.

The potatoes grown in Westfalia, Germany, loaded on trucks, reach Sicily, Italy, where they are cleaned and dryied, then loaded on trucks back to Westafalia, where they are sliced, loaded on trucks toward Zurich, Switzerland, where they are fried, loaded on trucks reach Genoa, Italy, where they are packed, loaded on trucks towards markets.

I have no doubt that all this long travelling is more profitable for the company then producing potato chips in one place, I am just asking myself: who will pay the social costs of this process: hundreds of trucks on the road with car accidents, cancers because of pollution, etc?

Tax payers cover the cost for the NHS, road mainteinance, etc.

But yes, I could buy stocks of the company and get rich, until the next oil or subprime crisis and I have my cheap potato chips at the market.

Let's face it: this system should be changed, it can't last forever.

Edited by porcy62

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"Market forces" will change it.

Money be money. :ph34r:

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"Market forces" will change it.

Money be money. :ph34r:

Paraphrasing Samuel Johnson: "Market forces is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

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IMHO global market and science are out of control, I mean that citizens have no longer the informations, ergo, we are going towards a undemocratic world.

I tell you a story about junk food, a well known italian potato chip brand.

The potatoes grown in Westfalia, Germany, loaded on trucks, reach Sicily, Italy, where they are cleaned and dryied, then loaded on trucks back to Westafalia, where they are sliced, loaded on trucks toward Zurich, Switzerland, where they are fried, loaded on trucks reach Genoa, Italy, where they are packed, loaded on trucks towards markets.

I have no doubt that all this long travelling is more profitable for the company then producing potato chips in one place, I am just asking myself: who will pay the social costs of this process: hundreds of trucks on the road with car accidents, cancers because of pollution, etc?

Tax payers cover the cost for the NHS, road mainteinance, etc.

But yes, I could buy stocks of the company and get rich, until the next oil or subprime crisis and I have my cheap potato chips at the market.

Let's face it: this system should be changed, it can't last forever.

I can't believe that any potato chip manufacturer can compete with that kind of convoluted and inevitably more expensive production system. The only way it can be more "profitable" for the company is if it factors in all of the additional transportation costs and added expense of multiple factories and then adds in an additional healthy profit margin. If that manufacturer's chip is popular, what do Italians pay for potato chips? $15 a bag? :wacko:

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Anybody able to remove those green rings from my cds? :mellow:

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IMHO global market and science are out of control, I mean that citizens have no longer the informations, ergo, we are going towards a undemocratic world.

I tell you a story about junk food, a well known italian potato chip brand.

The potatoes grown in Westfalia, Germany, loaded on trucks, reach Sicily, Italy, where they are cleaned and dryied, then loaded on trucks back to Westafalia, where they are sliced, loaded on trucks toward Zurich, Switzerland, where they are fried, loaded on trucks reach Genoa, Italy, where they are packed, loaded on trucks towards markets.

I have no doubt that all this long travelling is more profitable for the company then producing potato chips in one place, I am just asking myself: who will pay the social costs of this process: hundreds of trucks on the road with car accidents, cancers because of pollution, etc?

Tax payers cover the cost for the NHS, road mainteinance, etc.

But yes, I could buy stocks of the company and get rich, until the next oil or subprime crisis and I have my cheap potato chips at the market.

Let's face it: this system should be changed, it can't last forever.

Sounds like an extremely complex process. I can see trucking in the potatoes, but after that I don't understand the need for the rest of what you described.

I can't imagine this being profitable at all. :unsure:

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"Market forces" will change it.

Money be money. :ph34r:

Paraphrasing Samuel Johnson: "Market forces is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

to paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson: "Motherfuckin' snakes on a plane is the last refuge of the scoundrel."

as for those who exhibit rude cell phone behavior, there is a simple fix... just get close enough for the party they are talking to to be able to overhear you and say "hang up and come back to bed, honey."

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And what about the latest mozzarella's dioxin scandal?

What was that? :blink:

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