“It’s quite informative that the NTP data found evidence of an increased tumor risk in the male rats for glial cells and in the [heart] Schwann cells,” said Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the Berkeley School of Public Health (who writes about electromagnetic radiation here). “That’s compelling evidence that what we’re seeing in humans — even though the signal is not clear — is highly suggestive, and that there is indeed something real going on with regard to tumor risk in humans.”
Some scientists have reported that the RF waves from cell phones produce effects in human cells (in lab dishes) that might possibly help tumors grow. However, several studies in rats and mice have looked at whether RF energy might promote the development of tumors caused by other known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). These studies did not find evidence of tumor promotion.
Today’s report, the final one, was about a decade in the making and is the last of several versions that have been released since preliminary results were presented in May 2016. It represents the consensus of NTP scientists and a group of external reviewers, according to the release. In the future, the NTP plans to conduct studies in smaller exposure chambers and to use biomarkers such as DNA damage to gauge cancer risk. These changes in the experimental setup should mean that future studies will take less time.
The guidelines recommend keeping phones away from the body when they’re not in use—in a backpack, for example, rather than a pocket—and sleeping with phones away from the bed. People may also choose to use speakerphone or a headset to make calls, rather than holding the phone to their heads. (They should remove their headsets when they’re not in use, though, as these devices also emit small amounts of RF frequency.)
That’s why randomized controlled trials (RCTs) often yield fairly clear answers about the effectiveness of treatments compared to other study designs. (Fun fact: Scottish doctor James Lind, a clinical trial pioneer, figured out that citrus fruits seemed to have an effect on scurvy using one of the earliest RCTs.) RCTs can also be used to study whether something, like cellphone radiation, can cause disease.
As a result, stories about a single nuclear meltdown or possible link between cellphone radiation and cancer will be amplified much more than news about the nine people who probably died today in the US from distracted driving. “This possible health effect from radiation is pretty esoteric at this point. If there is anything there, it seems to me like it’s going to be very, very small,” says Kenneth R. Foster, a bioengineering professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has been investigating whether there are biological effects from radio waves since the 1970s. “Driving and texting, people get killed doing that — but it’s not a very exciting risk to worry about.”
Epidemiology studies investigating cell phone use patterns with human cancer risk have produced inconsistent results. Some studies enrolled people who already had tumors with suspected links to RF radiation, such as gliomas, acoustic neuromas and salivary gland tumors. Researchers compared the self-reported cell phone use habits of the cancer patients with those of other people who did not have the same diseases. Other studies enrolled people while they were still healthy, and then followed them over time to see if new cancer diagnoses tracked with how they used cell phones. All the epidemiology studies, however, have troubling limitations, including that enrolled subjects often do not report their cell phone use habits accurately on questionnaires.
Cellsafe backs its claims by publishing independent test results on its site. These test reports are detailed, complex and confusing, but the results are available for you to interpret. For example, their tests found that an iPhone 4S produced a SAR of 1.069 W/kg on the 3G 2100Mhz frequency without a case, and 0.267 W/kg with a Cellsafe case. But what in the world does that actually mean? Is a SAR of 1 W/kg dangerous? Is a reduction to 0.267 W/kg actually better, or are we just splitting hairs?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) released a fact sheet about these issues, shortly after the IARC re-classification, entitled "Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones". The fact sheet points to the findings of the IARC and describes some of the known short-term and long-term effects of phone use, but ultimately, it lands on the side of where the most conclusive evidence exists:
Morbidity and mortality among study participants who have brain cancer. Gliomas are particularly difficult to study, for example, because of their high death rate and the short survival of people who develop these tumors. Patients who survive initial treatment are often impaired, which may affect their responses to questions. Furthermore, for people who have died, next-of-kin are often less familiar with the cell phone use patterns of their deceased family member and may not accurately describe their patterns of use to an interviewer.
Limited to rats only, the Ramazzini study tested three doses expressed as the amount of radiation striking the animal’s bodies: either 5, 25 or 50 volts per meter. The exposure measures therefore differed from the absorbed doses calculated during the NTP study. But the Ramazzini scientists also converted their measures to W/kg, to show how the doses compared with RF limits for cell phones and cell towers set by the FCC and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection; they ranged down to a 1,000 times lower. The exposures began when the rats were fetuses and continued for 19 hours a day until the animals died from natural causes.
Although recall bias is minimized in studies such as COSMOS that link participants to their cell phone records, such studies face other problems. For example, it is impossible to know who is using the listed cell phone or whether that individual also places calls using other cell phones. To a lesser extent, it is not clear whether multiple users of a single phone, for example family members who may share a device, will be represented on a single phone company account. Additionally, for many long-term cohort studies, participation tends to decline over time.
By not formally reassessing its current limit, FCC cannot ensure it is using a limit that reflects the latest research on RF energy exposure. FCC has also not reassessed its testing requirements to ensure that they identify the maximum RF energy exposure a user could experience. Some consumers may use mobile phones against the body, which FCC does not currently test, and could result in RF energy exposure higher than the FCC limit.
“The near field plume is the one we’re most concerned with. This plume that’s generated within five or six inches of the center of a cell phone’s antenna is determined by the amount of power necessary to carry the signal to the base station,” he explains. “The more power there is, the farther the plume radiates the dangerous information-carrying radio waves.”
Nice quality vinyl bumper sticker is a not-so-gentle reminder to fellow motorists of the one of the many dangers of cellphone use: distraction! If you ever get the chance, you can also explain the other hazards as well: reaction time, increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier, and possibly brain tumors. Good for cars, trucks, bikes, skates and just about any other moving vehicle.
Note: Although it is true that cell phones emit low frequency magnetic fields that can be measured in milliGauss, they also emit high frequency microwave radiation which is what all the concern (and publicity) is about, and which the products below are designed to shield. Many clients have contacted us seeking a shield for BOTH magnetic fields and microwaves for their phone. Such a shield does not currently exist. To reduce your exposure to BOTH types of radiation, use an airtube headset and keep the phone itself at a distance.
SafeSleeve for the iPhone 6 and 6s is the industry leading cell phone radiation protector. Our anti-radiation shielding technology has been tested in an FCC certified lab to block over 99% of RF radiation and over 92% of ELF radiation. Simply open the flap to answer, and re-close when speaking to be protected from potentially harmful radiation. The technology will also block radiation when storing in your pocket, just position the front flap to face your body. Rugged and double protective case includes an inner silicone shell to hold your phone in place and a reinforced outer case with magnetic latch to hold it closed. Convenient built-in cell phone case wallet allows you to carry up to 4 cards and/or cash with RFID protection. Leave the bulky wallet at home and carry everything in one lightweight package. Enjoy the peace of mind of knowing you are protected by lab tested shielding technology with the added convenience of a built in case, RFID blocker wallet and stand!
The authors of these studies noted that the results were preliminary and that possible health outcomes from changes in glucose metabolism in humans were unknown. Such inconsistent findings are not uncommon in experimental studies of the biological effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation in people (4). Some factors that can contribute to inconsistencies across such studies include assumptions used to estimate doses, failure to consider temperature effects, and lack of blinding of investigators to exposure status.