April 10, 2008

Cell Phones and Cigarettes

Filed under: Science and Mobile Radio - Wissenschaft zu Mobilfunk — omeganews @ 8:55 pm

Dear Colleagues:

We just posted a short comment on last week’s news suggesting that using a cell phone may be worse than smoking cigarettes.

Take a look at:
Louis Slesin, PhD
Editor, Microwave News
A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation
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April 10… Vini Khurana hit the big time last week. The Australian neurosurgeon parlayed a 69-page literature review on cell phones and brain tumors into a spot on the U.S. NBC Nightly News. Call it the power of the sound bite.

The centerpiece of Khurana’s report is his prediction that cell phone radiation would turn out to be a worse public-health disaster than either smoking or asbestos. On March 27th, the Canberra Times, his hometown newspaper, wrote it up under the headline, “Mobiles May Be a Death Sentence.” This prompted some chatter among EMF bloggers, but the big break came the following Sunday when the U.K. Independent ran its own story: “Mobile Phones ‘More Dangerous than Smoking’.”

Equating cell phones and tobacco is indeed provocative since we all know that smoking is a killer while the jury is still out on the health risks associated with using a hand-held phone. In fact, this was not the first time a major British newspaper had drawn a parallel between the two. Last year the Times asked, “Could [Mobile Phones] Be the Cigarettes of the 21st Century?” The question may have been rhetorical, but the Times left nothing to the imagination. “Absolutely,” it added.

The Times story was definitely noticed, but it was the Independent that touched a nerve. Minutes after the Web editors at the Independent posted the story, it became one of the lead stories on the “Drudge Report,” a favorite among those in search of the latest hot news and gossip. It didn’t take long for Khurana’s warning to become the #1 most popular story (most read and most e-mailed) on the Independent‘s Web site. It was still on the list, albeit at #10, a week later. In the meantime, hundreds, if not thousands, of other publications and Web sites repeated the claim that using a cell phone might be worse than smoking.

Few American newspapers went along, but on April 3, Bob Bazell, NBC’s chief science correspondent, aired an interview with Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society on the Nightly News. The ACS has long maintained that the link between cell phones and cancer is nothing more than a “myth” (see MWN, M/J03 and August 3, 2007), yet this time Thun allowed that there is some “legitimate uncertainty” over what might happen following long-term, cell-phone use. (At this writing, the segment is still on the NBC News Web site, look under “Health.”)

Bazell was skeptical at best. Citing unnamed U.S. “experts,” he dismissed Khurana’s conclusions as “absurd” and concluded that there is “no evidence of danger.” Nevertheless he closed his piece with a precautionary hedge against the unknown. “It’s never a bad idea to use your earpiece to get the antenna away from your head,” he advised.

Why did Khurana’s report get so much more media play than, for example, the BioInitiative Report, which offers a much more detailed analysis of EMF health risks by some of the leading researchers in the field? Part of the reason is that Khurana is a brain surgeon and it is only natural for people to think that he would know about brain tumor risks. (Hey, it is brain surgery!) That his report offers little that is new may have been missed by those who never ventured beyond the “Key Messages” in its first few pages.

Another way to think about it is that the episode offers another lesson on the vagaries of what becomes news. Few can predict what stories will catch the public’s imagination, though a provocative sound bite always helps. Yet, a receptive audience is an important part of the equation. One sure lesson of the Khurana episode is that the public, even though enamored by cell phones, has a latent concern about the long-term risks.


Cellphones more dangerous than cigarettes

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Are Cell Phones the Next Cigarettes?

cell phone, mobile phoneMobile phones have been around for more than 20 years and are now used by more than 3 billion people. Yet questions linger over whether mobile phones can contribute to health problems, including cancer. Cell phones have only been mainstream products for 10 years or so, and it may take much longer than that for adverse effects to show up.

New studies on health and cell phones are tough to get going. In the United States, most research on the topic was discontinued at the beginning of the decade, largely because industry groups and government considered the questions resolved and haven’t been willing to finance new studies.

But scientists are concerned that cutting off studies could be a mistake.

“It was 15, 20 years after people began smoking that we saw concerns associated with it,” says Michael Kelsh, principle scientist and epidemiologist for Exponent, a scientific consulting firm. “Down the road, the same could happen with phones.”

The latency period for brain tumors can be 10 to 15 years.


Cell Phones, the New Cigarettes

There is a petition to Congress regarding the placement of warning labels on all cell phone and wifi packaging which I’ve started and would like you all to take a moment out of your busy day and paste this address into your browser and sign if you would be so kind.  The legislation is entitled The Children’s Wireless Protection Act and also addresses WIFI in schools…

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been working on a documentary film on this subject for the past 2 years.  The warning labels are for children, but it is designed to give everyone a heads up to the fact that these EMR (electro magnetic radiation) products are deadly…and not just to children.  I would like to keep all of my friends and business associates on this email list for years to come, so I am glad to be telling you about this huge problem, but now we can also actually do something about it, by signing this petition. Getting this legislation past will be an enormous step in the right direction.

I recently gave an interview to a newspaper about this subject and the legislation.  It made the cover of their health section today.  You can read the article at…

I also think it is coming out on the West coast as a 3 part article, this week, next and the following, or on 3 consecutive days, the first day being tomorrow (Thurs.) but not 100% sure if the article will be in the West coast edition which only comes out once a week.

This paper is very special as most US papers don’t want to piss off their advertisers and will not publish articles like this.  This paper puts their content before their advertisers and are thus able to deliver news that would not normally make it to mainstream media outlets.  The article is really worth reading. You can also read much more about both this enormous problem and what we can do about it on my new website…

Informant: Martin Weatherall


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