Archive for Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cancer center warns of cell phone risks

July 24, 2008


On the street

Do you believe that long-term cell phone use can cause cancer?

I think there is a high probability that is the case.

More responses

— The head of a prominent cancer research institute issued an unprecedented warning to his faculty and staff Wednesday: Limit cell phone use because of the possible risk of cancer.

The warning from Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, is contrary to numerous studies that don't find a link between cancer and cell phone use, and a public lack of worry by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Herberman is basing his alarm on early unpublished data. He says it takes too long to get answers from science and he believes people should take action now - especially when it comes to children.

"Really at the heart of my concern is that we shouldn't wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later," Herberman said.

No other major academic cancer research institutions have sounded such an alarm about cell phone use. But Herberman's advice is sure to raise concern among many cell phone users and especially parents.

In the memo he sent to about 3,000 faculty and staff Wednesday, he says children should use cell phones only for emergencies because their brains are still developing.

Adults should keep the phone away from the head and use the speakerphone or a wireless headset, he says. He even warns against using cell phones in public places like a bus because it exposes others to the phone's electromagnetic fields.

The issue that concerns some scientists - though nowhere near a consensus - is electromagnetic radiation, especially its possible effects on children. It is not a major topic in conferences of brain specialists.

A 2008 University of Utah analysis looked at nine studies - including some Herberman cites - with thousands of brain tumor patients and concludes "we found no overall increased risk of brain tumors among cellular phone users. The potential elevated risk of brain tumors after long-term cellular phone use awaits confirmation by future studies."

Studies last year in France and Norway concluded the same thing.

"If there is a risk from these products - and at this point we do not know that there is - it is probably very small," the Food and Drug Administration says on an agency Web site.

Still, Herberman cites a "growing body of literature linking long-term cell phone use to possible adverse health effects including cancer."

"Although the evidence is still controversial, I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cell phone use," he wrote in his memo.

A driving force behind the memo was Devra Lee Davis, the director of the university's center for environmental oncology.

"The question is do you want to play Russian roulette with your brain," she said in an interview from her cell phone while using the hands-free speaker phone as recommended. "I don't know that cell phones are dangerous. But I don't know that they are safe."


Confrontation 9 years, 9 months ago

"He even warns against using cell phones in public places like a bus because it exposes others to the phone's electromagnetic fields."We should ban the use of cell phones in public places, especially movie theaters and stores. I'm tired of hearing loud morons discuss their personal issues.

Paul Decelles 9 years, 9 months ago

Oh I thought the tin foil was to keep the alien voices

Paul Decelles 9 years, 9 months ago

I haven't looked at the original research on this, but if the risk was really high then it probably would have shown up consistently in population studies. There are probably much bigger risk factors that we need to be concerned about.Here some links: am surprised there haven't been more laboratory studies looking at this with animals or with tissue cultures. So I think there is more to be done here.

gr 9 years, 9 months ago

"says children should use cell phones only for emergencies because their brains are still developing."Because their brains are still developing? You mean, they could still be aborted?"because it exposes others to the phone's electromagnetic fields."Second-hand cell phone risk.

andrew55 9 years, 9 months ago

So what. Will people stop using them...has cancer-related deaths due to nicotine decreased? ...people are going to do what they want despite the risks. It is called FREEDOM.Follow the money...who financed this "study?" You can bet they weren't in the cellphone business.

gr 9 years, 9 months ago

'We should ban cell phones as it "might" cause problems and we should do all we can just in case.'--Brought to you by the Y2Kers/Global Warmists

Commenting has been disabled for this item.