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The Studies You Should Never, Ever Believe

July 28, 2011 | 45,318 views
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results of research studiesTwo reports, published merely days apart, present radically different answers to the question of whether or not microwave radiation is harmful. Which one should be believed, and why?

In one publication, which identified studies documenting increase in cancers with microwave exposure, the authors claim no conflict of interest.

The other publication presents a conflict of interest statement that mentions they received funding from organizations that include the Mobile Manufacturers' Forum and the GSM Association, that they hold shares in the telecoms companies Cable and Wireless Worldwide and Cable and Wireless Communications, and many other similar conflicts -- and then they, likewise claim that they have no conflicts of interest!

It may come as no surprise that the second study finds that the evidence is against mobile phone use causing brain tumors.

According to Dr. Magda Havas:

"For someone who is intimately familiar with the studies they cite I find it fascinating how they skirt around the 'inconvenient' results that don't fit their conclusions ... The studies show that after 10 years of moderate cell phone use ... there is a statistically significant increase in ipsilateral gliomas ... So who do you believe? Those with a conflict of interest who claim not to have one or those without?"

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Conflict of interest is a massively important issue, no matter what topic, industry, or branch of government we're discussing, and unfortunately, it's become more the norm than the exception in these days. As Sean Arthur Joyce states in a recent blog post titled: Conflict of Interest Rules the 21st Century:

"According to Wikipedia, conflict of interest "occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other." Once considered the gold standard of professional conduct, during the past 30 years or so it has been purposely diminished to the point of non-existence as a barometer of business or government ethics. The advantages to The Corporation for promoting this ethical vacuum are obvious.

But for the public it's a disaster in the making: the ethically untenable situation of having executives from Big Pharma or Big Telecom sitting on the government committees that regulate the very products they're selling. The motive is simple: to remove any and all obstacles to profit. This is antithetical to the role of government as gatekeeper and protector of public health."

Conflict of Interest is Rampant

I've previously stated that in order to evaluate the reliability of a particular piece of research, you need to take potential conflicts of interest into account because, statistically, it has an absolutely profound impact on end results. Financial ties are ties that "bind" the receiver of that money to a particular, pre-determined result, and I've previously exposed just how easy it is for researchers to massage the data to reach a particular conclusion.

In fact, studies funded by industry or conducted by researchers with industry ties tend to favor corporate interests—a whopping 80 percent of the time! For instance, when researchers from the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City examined studies published in four psychiatric journals, they found drugs were favored in roughly eight out of 10 studies funded by the company that makes the drug. However, drugs were only favored in three out of 10 studies conducted by competitors of the drug's maker…

Interesting, wouldn't you agree?  Like Joyce said, the motive is simple: remove the obstacles to profit. And we're seeing the exact same pattern play itself out in the arena of wireless technologies.

What Did Researchers Without Conflicts of Interest Find?

Magda Havas does a great job spelling out the discrepancies between the two reviews that were recently published within days of each other. The authors of the first review, Long-term exposure to microwave radiation provides cancer growth: Evidence from radars and mobile communication systems, have no apparent conflicts of interest. Their review includes the following summary:

"The carcinogenic effect of MW [microwave] irradiation is typically manifested after long term (up to 10 years and more) exposure. Nevertheless, even a year of operation of a powerful base transmitting station for mobile communication reportedly resulted in a dramatic increase of cancer incidence among population living nearby.

In addition, model studies in rodents unveiled a significant increase in carcinogenesis after 17-24 months of MW exposure both in tumor-prone and intact animals. To that, such metabolic changes, as overproduction of reactive oxygen species, 8-hydroxi-2-deoxyguanosine formation, or ornithine decarboxylase activation under exposure to low intensity MW confirm a stress impact of this factor on living cells."

The reviewers concluded that "the ICNIRP guidelines require urgent reevaluation in light of this research."

This echoes what scientists and physicians around the world have been requesting for over a decade, based on the damning results from literally thousands of studies on the health effects of electromagnetic fields and non-ionizing radiation from wireless technologies.  Here are just three of the most recent resolutions and appeals released by scientific groups of experts regarding the health hazards of electromagnetic fields (EMF) associated with electricity and radio frequency (RF) and electromagnetic radiation (EMR) generated by wireless devices (For the complete list, see Magda Havas' previous article):

  • May 31, 2011: International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and World Health Organization (WHO) reclassified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as a Class 2B carcinogen (a possible carcinogen).  This is the same category as the pesticide DDT, lead, gasoline engine exhaust, burning coal and dry cleaning chemicals, just to name a few. I recently wrote about this at great length, explaining why this qualifies as Big News.

    The IARC committee included 27 scientists from 14 different countries working on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO). This expert panel ruled that there was some evidence that cell phone use was linked to two types of tumors—brain tumors (gliomas) and acoustic neuromas.

    What makes this decision so spectacular is the fact that IARC monographs are considered the "gold standard" in the evaluation of carcinogenicity of physical and chemical agents, so when the IARC makes this assessment, it's no trivial matter anymore—it's verification that there must be sufficient scientific evidence backing it up, or else they wouldn't risk their reputation on such a claim.
  • May 2011: The Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe (PACE) released Resolution 1815 on the Potential Dangers of Electromagnetic Fields and their effect on the Environment, in which they state:
    "…[C]ertain high frequency waves used in the fields of… telecommunications and mobile telephony, appear to have more or less potentially harmful, non-thermal, biological effects on plants, insects and animals as well as the human body even when exposed to levels that are below the official threshold values…

    [T]he precautionary principle should be applicable when scientific evaluation does not allow the risk to be determined with sufficient certainty, especially given the context of growing exposure of the population, including particularly vulnerable groups such as young people and children, which could lead to extremely high human and economic costs of inaction if early warnings are neglected."
  • May 2011: Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and Electrohypersensitivity (EHS), Geneva meeting. Statements from this meeting include:
    "We need to include these illnesses [MCS and EHS] in the WHO International Classification of Diseases (ICD), because what makes it more difficult for legal recognition is precisely the lack of code for these diseases in the ICD…

    The process of these diseases (MCS and EHS) is chronic and the patient's situation is exacerbated if he/she lives in a toxic environment… subjected to electromagnetic radiation: emissions in the neighborhood, mobile phone antennas , etc. The patient has to avoid re-exposure. We are facing very high numbers of people already diagnosed . . . In the EHS, figures of affected people are between 3 and 6% of the population, but these numbers are growing continuously."

How Conflicts of Interest Alter the Conclusions of the Second Review…

Now on to the second scientific review, Mobile phones, brain tumors and the INTERPHONE study: Where are we now? Here, the authors also claim they have no conflicts of interest, yet their conflict of interest statement, copied below, is riddled with financial ties to the telecommunications industry, including ownership of telecom shares!

Funding for research undertaken by MF and AJS has been provided by a number of sources, including the European Fifth Framework Program; the International Union against Cancer, which receives funds from the Mobile Manufacturers' Forum and the GSM Association; the Mobile Telecommunications Health and Research Programme; the Swedish Research Council; AFA Insurance; and VINNOVA (The Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems).

VINNOVA received funds from TeliaSonera, EricssonAB, and Telenor. All funds from commercial sources were via firewalls. The authors certify that their freedom to design, conduct, interpret, and publish research was not compromised by any controlling sponsor.

AJS holds shares in the telecoms companies Cable and Wireless Worldwide and Cable and Wireless Communications. AJS' wife holds shares in the BT group, a global telecommunications services company. MF, ACG, and AJS are members of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, an independent body setting guidelines for non-ionizing radiation protection.

MF and AJS serve as advisors to a number of public advisory and research steering groups concerning the potential health effects of exposure to non-ionizing radiation.

What did they find, after evaluating the available research? Not surprisingly, these authors concluded that:

 "Although there remains some uncertainty, the trend in the accumulating evidence is increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults."

As Magda Havas says in her article:

"For someone who is intimately familiar with the studies they cite I find it fascinating how they skirt around the "inconvenient" results that don't fit their conclusions. For example, they incorrectly state, "brain tumor incidence trends, suggest that within about 10-15 years after first use of mobile phones there is unlikely to be a material increase in the risk of brain tumors in adults."  

This statement is WRONG!

The studies show that after 10 years of moderate cell phone use (greater than 1640 hours or 30 minutes a day for 10 years) there is a statistically significant increase in ipsilateral gliomas (INTERPHONE STUDY).  They fail to mention parotid gland tumors and acoustic neuromas because they are strictly limiting their comments to two types of brain tumours, gliomas and meningiomas."

Children May Be at Very Great Risk… Why Won't These Researchers Address it?

Havas point out another 'sleight of hand' tactic employed by the authors of Mobile phones, brain tumors and the INTERPHONE study: Where are we now? By claiming that data for childhood tumors for periods beyond 15 years are lacking, it suggests that we can't draw any conclusions about the potential long-term impact of this technology on children. However, they ignore the singular study on children in existence, which showed that those who started using a cell phone prior to the age of 20 had a five-fold increased risk of brain tumors—well before the 15-year mark!

Additionally, Havas points out that they did not include the appendixes 1 and 2 of the INTERPHONE study in their review, which contain some of the most damaging findings. These appendixes are for some reason not automatically provided along with the primary study, so you have to specifically ask for them (which, according to Havas, is unusual in and of itself). She theorizes that perhaps some of the INTERPHONE scientists tried to deliver some of the most 'difficult to digest' material in this way… As an example, she states that, "In Appendix 1, statistically significant increases in gliomas range from 40 percent to 95 percent."

She goes on to explain:

"One embarrassing result in the INTERPHONE study is that the results show that low to moderate cell phone use actually reduces the risk of cancer.  In Appendix 2 the authors try to correct this "error" and use the lowest category of users as the reference category.  With this analysis the results for tumors was higher than in the original text. After 10 years the gliomas increased in a dose response manner to 118 percent and after 1640 hours they increased by 82 percent instead of the original 40 percent."

Experts Speak Out

These kinds of omissions are commonplace. For example, the New York Times published an article entitled Do Cellphones Cause Brain Cancer? back in April, in which the author, Siddhartha Mukherjee, ran with the "inconclusive evidence" angle and omitted any mention of the many studies that conclusively do show increased risk of brain tumors. In response, Lloyd Morgan, a Senior Research Fellow with the Environmental Health Trust, issued a detailed rebuttal pointing out the many glaring errors and distortions in Mukherjee's article.

Unfortunately, I'm sure a lot more people saw the NYT piece than read Morgan's rebuttal…

Still, a number of well-qualified experts are now becoming increasingly more vocal about the dangers as they see them. For example, Dr. Karl Maret, M.D. has recently begun educating physician groups on the biological impacts of communication technologies. With a background in medicine, electrical engineering, and biomedical engineering, he's uniquely qualified to speak on this topic.

In a recent interview with ElectromagneticHealth.org founder Camilla Rees, he shared some of the most compelling arguments to date on why you must use extreme caution when it comes to cell phones, cordless phones, smart meters, and other forms of electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

According to Dr. Martin Blank, PhD, one of the most experienced researchers of the cellular and molecular effects of electromagnetic fields in the U.S., the impact of electromagnetic fields on cells and DNA is both profound and indisputable. Essentially, your DNA, due to its inherent 'coil of coils' structure, is particularly vulnerable to electromagnetic fields of all kinds, Dr. Blank warns. (For more information, please review this previous article, in which his findings are discussed in greater detail.)

As described in the International Journal of Radiation Biology, April 2011, DNA actually possesses the two structural characteristics of fractal antennas, namely electronic conduction and self-symmetry. These properties contribute to greater reactivity of DNA to electromagnetic fields than other tissues, making the long-term consequences of repeated microwave exposures to our genetic material of great concern. Dr. Blank also stresses the point that the science showing harmful effects has been peer-reviewed, published, and that the results have been replicated, evaluated and "judged by scientists capable of judging it."

It's no surprise then that the majority of the push-back against these damning findings come from the most obvious of camps: those with conflicts of interest; those with financial ties to the industry…

That said, the choice of who to listen to and trust becomes rather easy.

I hope that this information has again reminded you of just how important it is to insist on full disclosure of conflicts of interest. And how important it is for you to actually look for these types of conflicts whenever you evaluate any piece of research.  One good source that can help you with this is The Integrity in Science (ISS) Project, created to combat corporate influence on science and science-based public policy. ISS scrutinizes "more than 200 science-based federal advisory committees for undisclosed conflicts of interest, monitor the media and scientific literature for failure to disclose, and encourage the adoption of strong disclosure policies."

You can do your own conflict of interest research by using their database, which includes more than 4,000 scientists. Keep in mind though that it's not a comprehensive database. But it's a good place to start when you want to check for corporate ties.

It's Not Just about Brain Tumors…

As mentioned by Magda Havas, the research is not only suggesting potentially dramatic increases in brain tumors. There's also an increased risk of other types of facial cancers (which is understandable when you consider how you hold your phone to your head). A Chinese study published as recently as April found that long-term, heavy cell phone use may also raise your risk of malignant parotid gland tumors (cancer of your salivary gland) anywhere from seven to 13 times. This too needs to be taken very seriously.

Microwave News recently reported:

"The raw data... point to cancer risks that are elevated 10-fold, 20-fold, and even 30-fold, depending on the type of tumor and how heavy cell phone use is defined… For instance, those who had used mobile phones for over 10 years had more than 10 times the rate of epithelial parotid gland malignancies, the dominant type of cancer of parotid gland.

The risk rose to 20 times that of controls for mucoepidermoid carcinoma, the primary subtype of parotid gland cancer. Those who used a cell phone for more than two-and-a-half hours a day had a more than 15-to-30 fold elevated cancer risk. Previous studies have rarely pointed to a risk that is more than double or triple the expected rate."

Do You Know How to Make Your Cell Phone Safer?

Before I list the standard guidelines for protecting yourself and your children from excessive cell phone radiation, I want to remind you that you cannot determine safety by the SAR (specific absorption rate) on your phone. If you buy a low SAR phone thinking it will offer greater protection from harm, you're simply lulling yourself into a false sense of security.

It's important to understand that the SAR rating has nothing to do with the non-ionizing radiation emitted by your phone. The SAR level only measures the power density of a phone, estimating the radiation penetration into the head using a plexiglass head of a simulated 200 lb man. In the article "Top 'Safe' Cell Phones That Aren't Safe", Camilla Rees explains that this is just an estimate, and it is only an estimate of one of the components of risk from cell phones. It does not gauge the risk from the frequencies of the cell phone, the pulsing and modulation of the signals, or the magnetic fields from batteries.

The actual SAR exposure can also be greatly impacted by the manner in which you hold the phone, whether you use a headset, and your physical location in relation to nearby cell towers. Hence, the SAR has a very limited use, and only as a comparative measure between phones on this one risk variable. It is not in any way a measure of cell phone safety.

What does make a difference, however, is the technology your cell phone carrier uses to distribute its cell phone signals. In the US, cell phone carriers use either:

  1. CDMA, or
  2. GSM

GSM is far more dangerous because it emits 28 times more radiation than CDMA phones. In the US, there are two primary CDMA networks: Verizon and Sprint. Most of the others use GSM, but you need to check with your specific carrier to confirm. Selecting a CDMA network is a good first step toward reducing your and your children's radiation exposure.

What You Need to Know about Cordless Home Phones

Many tend to forget that portable home phones may be just as hazardous as cell phones. If you must use a cordless phone, use the older kind that operates at 900 MHz. They are no safer during calls, but at least some of them do not broadcast continually while no call is being made.

The only way to truly determine whether there is an exposure from your cordless phone is to measure with an electrosmog meter. You need a meter that goes up to the frequency of your portable phone, so old meters are not of much use. Since many portable phones are 5.8 Gigahertz, I recommend looking for an RF meter that goes up to 8 Gigahertz, the highest range now available in a meter suitable for consumers.

Alternatively you can be very careful with the base station placement as that causes the bulk of the problem. The base station transmits signals 24/7, even when you aren't talking, so by keeping the base station at least three rooms away from where you spend most of your time, and especially your bedroom, you may reduce any potential harm. Ideally it would be helpful to turn off or disconnect your base station before you go to bed. Or better yet, keep it off except for the occasional circumstances where you need portability and a long phone cord will not do.

You can find RF meters at www.emfsafetystore.com. But you can pretty much be sure your portable phone is a problem if the technology is labeled DECT, or digitally enhanced cordless technology.

Common-Sense Guidelines to Protect Your and Your Family's Health

Children are clearly the most vulnerable to long-term damage, and kids today are using cell phones at a very early age. This is extremely troublesome, and the primary reason why I keep urging you to avoid using cell phones around children, and to not let your children play with or talk on a cell phone. Personally, I believe children should never use cell phones, except in emergencies.

Ideally, returning to using landlines would be your best bet. But if you're not prepared to take that step, you can at least minimize your exposure by heeding the following advice:

  • Reduce Your Cell Phone Use: Turn your cell phone off more often. Reserve it for emergencies or important matters. As long as your cell phone is on, it emits radiation intermittently, even when you are not actually making a call.
  • Use a Land Line at Home and at Work: Although more and more people are switching to using cell phones as their exclusive phone contact, it is a dangerous trend and you can choose to opt out of the madness.
  • Reduce or Eliminate Your Use of Other Wireless Devices: You would be wise to cut down your use of these devices. Just as with cell phones, it is important to ask yourself whether or not you really need to use them every single time.
  • Use Your Cell Phone Only Where Reception is Good: The weaker the reception, the more power your phone must use to transmit, and the more power it uses, the more radiation it emits, and the deeper the dangerous radio waves penetrate into your body. Ideally, you should only use your phone with full bars and good reception.
  • Keep Your Cell Phone Away From Your Body When it is On: The most dangerous place to be, in terms of radiation exposure, is within about six inches of the emitting antenna. You do not want any part of your body within that area. Therefore, avoid carrying your phone on your body as that maximizes your exposure, even when you're not actually talking on the phone. Ideally put it in your purse or carrying bag. Placing a cell phone in a shirt pocket over the heart is asking for trouble, as is placing it in a man's pocket if he seeks to preserve his fertility.
  • Respect Others Who are More Sensitive: Some people who have become sensitive can feel the effects of others' cell phones in the same room, even when it is on but not being used. Electrosensitivity, in fact, struck Gro Harlem Brundtland, MD, MPH, Norway's former Prime Minister, when she headed the World Health Organization (WHO). Brundtland told the BBC she would not allow cell phones in her office due to her electrosensitivity.

    People are increasingly becoming electrosensitive throughout the developed world today, like Dr. Brundtland, making it extremely difficult for some people to cope in modern life. It is important that people hold others in these circumstances with compassion and be conscious of potential '2nd hand radiation' effects on other people.

    If you are in a meeting, on public transportation, in a courtroom or other public places, such as a doctor's office, keep your cell phone turned off out of consideration for the 'second hand radiation' effects. Children are also more vulnerable, so please avoid using your cell phone near children.
  • Use Safer Headset Technology: Wired headsets will certainly allow you to keep the cell phone farther away from your body. However, if a wired headset is not well-shielded -- and most of them are not -- the wire itself acts as an antenna attracting ambient information carrying radio waves and transmitting radiation directly to your brain.

    Make sure that the wire used to transmit the signal to your ear is shielded.

    The best kind of headset to use is a combination shielded wire and air-tube headset. These operate like a stethoscope, transmitting the information to your head as an actual sound wave; although there are wires that still must be shielded, there is no wire that goes all the way up to your head.

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