Cell Phones Don't Fry Brains After All

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cell phone and cancer

In September, the World's Greatest Deliberative Body, a.k.a. the U.S. Senate, held hearings on the perennial claim that the radiation from cellular telephones causes brain tumors. Senator Harkin introduced the hearing by noting:

"There are an estimated 270 million cell phone users in the United States, and about 4 billion worldwide.  I would venture to guess that almost everyone in this room uses a cell phone on a regular basis, and most of us don't give a second's thought that it could harm us in any way.

"However, a growing number of experts think there is cause for concern.  The amount of radiation emitted by cell phones is tiny – billions of times less than an X-ray.  But some researchers believe that, over the course of many years, even this low level of radiation could cause cancers of the brain and central nervous system, as well as a range of other harmful effects.

"Indeed, some international studies have suggested that people who use cell phones for more than 10 years are more likely to get tumors on the side of the head where they usually hold their phone.  Other studies, meanwhile, have found no correlation at all.

Now a new 30 year epidemiological study done among the notoriously sensitive Scandinavians (it seems like almost anything will give those folks cancer) finds that cellphone use is not associated with increases in brain cancer. As Yahoo Tech reports:

While cell phone use jumped dramatically from 1974 to 2003, the period which the study covers, overall brain cancer trends in the population didn't follow suit. For some areas, brain cancer rates were stable or trended down. For some, the modest increase in cancer incidence had already been underway before cell phones came into use, indicating other causes are likely at fault.

In any event, no radical jump in brain tumors was detected over the years analyzed, something you'd expect if cell phones were really causing a lot of medical problems.

Maybe modern life isn't toxic after all.

Quick addendum: I went back and looked at some the Senate cell phone hearing testimony. One participant was John Bucher, the Associate Director of the National Toxicology Program (NTP), who testified

Personal (cellular) telecommunications is a rapidly evolving technology that uses radiofrequency energy or radiation for mobile communication. Currently, wireless communication devices are used by over 270 million Americans, or greater than 85% of the U.S. population. With so many users, this could translate into a potentially significant public health problem should the use of these devices even slightly increase the risk of adverse health effects.

While the weight of the current scientific evidence has not conclusively linked cell phones with any health problems, we and other scientific organizations evaluating the available studies have concluded that better data are needed to establish any potential risks to humans from the low-level radiofrequency radiation exposures associated with their use.

Implied is that if we look hard enough, we can probably find something wrong (inconclusively linked?) with using cell phones. There are precious few scientists, and especially few epidemiologists, who has ever said that more research is not needed on any topic. Good news, though. Bucher assured the senators that stimulus monies are being well spent:

[National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences] is using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to support researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, who are studying whether exposure to cellular telephones in childhood can have effects on the central nervous system. The cohort for the study consists of over 100,000 Danish children born between 1996 and 2007, with data gathered on cell phone use. The research team plans to study whether cell phone exposure might be related to behavioral and developmental problems, as well as other outcomes such as seizures, migraines, and sleep disturbances.

There sure are lot of worried people eager to spend federal dollars to prove that modern life is toxic.

Disclosure: A comment just reminded me (thanks Dello) to add that I own a some shares of Nokia that I purchased with my own money. Actually, nobody has ever given me any stock in any company.

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  1. How many millions have we wasted because of this little bit of quack science?

  2. Cell Phones Don’t Fry Brains After All

    And it only took THIRTY YEARS to finally debunk this silly myth.

    Perhapes it will take ANOTHER 30 years to finally put to rest the myth that humans are heating up the planet with their “capitalism.”

    1. It’s been debunked but not destroyed and since it’s never really been about the science but about people’s ignorance I don’t expect it will wither away of its own accord. Pretty much the same statement can be made about “capitalism” and global warming. It takes centuries to shed wrong ideas, e.g. astrology, naturopathic medicine, and religion.

      I think that getting up, going to work and looking after the kids takes up about 50% of a person’s thinking quota. The other 50%, by some sort of natural law, must be spent on idiocy and BS.

  3. Next up for the Scandanavians – does thorium underwear give you testicular cancer?

  4. People are seeing through Cell Phone Flim Flam fairly quickly. It took thiry years to expose this bit of manufactured evidence that the “experts” bought into:

    http://www.darwinismrefuted.co…..an_15.html

    It’s somewhat tragically ironic to see some who have wisely seen through the leftist nonsense of the Cell Phone Czars engage in the very same insults and tactics at me that they have been subject too from leftist experts pushing Cell Phone Cancer Hoax 2.0. In both cases a “consensus” of “experts” who hope their claims lead to statist social engineering tries to silence dissenters who see the holes in their claims by manufacturing evidence, bullying the peer review process to not publish dissenters, hiding things from the public and generally colluding to have dissenters labeled as “minority” (as if scientific debates were an election!) “fringe” or “partisan” “deniers.” The same open minds that led many here to see through Cell Phone Flim Flam could serve you well in challenging a Hoax with a longer history of such slimy collusion and lying.

    1. You sir, are a fucking retard.

      No I did not waste valuable seconds to click on a moronic link with Darwinrefuted in the address.

      1. I guess you’re one of those idiots who think a cell phone can turn into a waffle iron if you give enough time. Machine microevolution has been observes, a transistor turning into a circuit board, but macroevolution, machine turning into to car or a giant robot is just another stupid hoax that logical Global Warming Skeptics just won’t fall for!

        1. You’ve been making Tony look thoughtful. For this, if nothing else, please go away.

        2. We can clearly see that you haven’t evolved given enough time…

        3. You’re trying too hard, faggot.

  5. They do get unpleasantly if not DNA-alteringly hot sometimes. That can give you the icky squish-ear.

    By 2035, iPhonogenic Monaural Warming will wet us all (on one side).

  6. Do they still maybe mess up avionics?

    1. I believe that in a Mythbusters episode the guys showed that the idea that cellphones messed up commercial airplanes’ avionics was unfounded. It remains as one of the myriads of things the FedGov forbids you to do, because Our Protective Fathers know what is best for us and we must do our darnest to obey Them…

      1. Actually, if I recall correctly they did show that the phones can affect the avionics (one specific device, I think), but that there were other ways to get the info that that device gave, making it not a serious danger. But they still have you turn them off just in case.

        1. Yeah, they ask you to turn them off. If it was truly a major issue they’d confiscate them prior to takeoff. I’ve accidentally left mine on a couple of times flights, and I’ve certainly observed other passengers putting theirs away without turning them off–never once has a panicked flight attendant raced around the cabin begging folks to re-check their cell phones because some major piece of avionics or fly-by-wire BS was shitting the bed.

          1. I was on one flight where a sneaky flight attendant made an announcement a few minutes in, saying that the plane’s sensors had detected a cell phone that hadn’t been turned off, and would we please double-check.

            I think there was movement in every row…

            1. SouthWest does this on every flight. Works like a charm.

              1. I’ve flown Southwest a bunch of times and have never had this happen. Do you typically fly a particular route frequently?

      2. I’ve no specific knowledge of cell phones, radios, computers and other RF emitting electronic gear interfering with avionics but I do know the RFI is a serious problem in all sorts of microwave applications.

        Maybe Probably the FAA is overraecting, but the safety concern is a valid one.

        1. Besides, if you think driving while talking on a cellphone is dangerous, wait till you try to taxi and take off in a 747.

          😉

        2. I think they are/were concerned that harmonic frequencies from emitting devices will interfere with VOR and ILS signals.

    2. If cell phones really messed up avionics, they wouldn’t let them aboard the plane.

      I mean, think about how paranoid they are about letting on nail clippers… do you think they wouldn’t crack down on cell phones if they thought there was even one in a billion chance of them causing problems.

    3. The FCC prohibits cell phones on planes because “potential interference to wireless networks on the ground.” The FAA leaves which portable electronic devices are allowed to be used up to the aircraft operator.

  7. Wait, a bunch of Scandies did a study that showed no problems?

    Where is Nokia located again?

    1. Finland

      1. And Ericsson, Sweden.

        1. And Doug’s Cell Phone and Storm Door Company, North Platte, NE

  8. What are they going to do, ban cellphones?

    HAHAHAHA

    Try it, I dare them.

    1. Epi, Epi, Epi. You’re clearly not built for this government gig. Go back to the private sector.

      What you do is you add a really, really big tax to cell phone use to help cover and offset the cost of increased medical care due to these dangerous devices.

      1. Whoa, Paul…have you ever considered public “service”?

  9. People beleive in astrology and creationism.

    How do think we can get them to understand “non-ionizing radiation?”

    1. I am fond of asking Creationists how they think a light bulb works, because if their worldview is correct, then the science behind the lightbulb can’t be.

      1. How does creationism (which I DO NOT believe) invalidate thermal radiation?

        1. To accept Creationism,(Particularly young-Earth Creationism), one has to invalidate vitually every aspect of modern physics, including Maxwell’s equations. Thus there is no theory for either the generation or use of electricity.

  10. Alas, cell phones can be deadly – when used as remote triggers for IEDs. On a lighter note, has there been any study of the number of lives saved by on-the-spot emergency calls that were only made possible by widespread cell phone adoption?

  11. In both cases a “consensus” of “experts” who hope their claims lead to statist social engineering tries to silence dissenters who see the holes in their claims by manufacturing evidence, bullying the peer review process to not publish dissenters, hiding things from the public and generally colluding to have dissenters labeled as “minority” (as if scientific debates were an election!) “fringe” or “partisan” “deniers.” The same open minds that led many here to see through Cell Phone Flim Flam could serve you well in challenging a Hoax with a longer history of such slimy collusion and lying.

    So many words, so little content.

  12. Disclosure: A comment just reminded me (thanks Dello) to add that I own a some shares of Nokia that I purchased with my own money. Actually, nobody has ever given me any stock in any company.

    Ron, I’ll give you all my Enron shares.
    As long as you pay for the postage.

  13. I am fond of asking Creationists how they think a light bulb works

    When you flip the switch, God sez Let there be Light.

  14. HoaxBuster,
    I think you caught your limit for the day..

  15. Cellphones are now responsible for killing bees.

    I heard it mentioned on NPR, so it has to be true.

  16. I liked the popping popcorn hoax.

    If your phone could do that, it would fry your brain.

  17. So, like, forget brain cancer. I think we need a 30-year study to see the effect on love-handle cancer.

  18. Usage of cell phone is immense now a days and we have whole public using cell phones right from school kid to college going student. Cell phones have become the need of the hour. I think, this blog post should reach maxi most people across world to realize this facts you just mentioned over here. Quite an eye opener I must say !

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