Click to listen: 55:42
Karl Maret, MD on Biological Effects of Cell Phones and Wireless Technologies
By Dr. Mercola
In 1993, talk-show host Larry King had an unexpected guest on his program -- David Reynard, who argued that radiation from a cell phone caused or accelerated the growth of a brain tumor in his wife. Susan Reynard died in 1992, just short of her 34th birthday.
The Florida Circuit Court that heard Reynard's case rejected it on the grounds that too little was known about a potential link between cell phones and cancer. What was needed, the court said, was much deeper and more comprehensive knowledge about the subject. The New York Times article linked below, though riddled with errors and omissions about the cell phones' link with cancer (see electromagnetichealth.org's rebuttal here) examines the following question: Now, nineteen years later, if Reynard were to reappear in court, what is known about a possible cell phone/cancer link?
According to the New York Times:
"It is possible, of course, that even ... sophisticated experiments will be unable to determine the risk. The lag time of cancer development with phone use may be 50 or 70 years -- and cellphones have been around for only three decades or so."
No one wants to hear that a largely "indispensable" item they rely on daily might cause serious harm to your health, but that's exactly what we're faced with when it comes to cell phones and the potential for them to cause all manner of health problems, from headaches and brittle bones to infertility and brain tumors.
In fact, studies have shown increased risk of many forms of cancer from long-term cell phone use, including gliomas (brain cancer), acoustic neuromas (tumor on the acoustic nerve), meningiomas (tumor of the meninges), salivary gland cancers (parotid gland in the cheek), eye cancers, testicular cancers and leukemia.
One of the reasons I started this newsletter was to decrease the time it takes for important public health information to become widely accepted in the conventional media.
My intention is to give you a huge head start with this information, frequently years or decades prior to this knowledge becoming known, so you can prevent serious damage to your health that would otherwise occur from behaviors you didn't realize were harmful until it was too late. There's no doubt in my mind that we will eventually see an explosion of brain tumors, attributable to excessive cell phone use.
But why wait until it's self-evident and undeniable? By then you or your child might be part of the collateral damage of this ongoing live experiment, that is if you have not been affected already.
And although Reynard's case, discussed in the featured New York Times article, could be easily dismissed as a grieving man grasping for straws as he tried to figure out WHAT caused his wife's lethal tumor, I believe science will in time tease out all the precise mechanisms of harm.
In fact, they've already identified numerous such mechanisms, which explain how electromagnetic fields impact your cells and damages your DNA—a fact that Siddhartha Mukherjee, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University fails to mention in his article.
An analysis of the mechanisms of action was published last November in "Non-Thermal Effects and Mechanisms of Interaction Between Electromagnetic Fields and Living Matter."
The Difficulty of Assessing Risk Factors for Cancer
Mukherjee claims that determining the carcinogenic potential of cell phone radiation is difficult and troublesome for a number of reasons, and he may have a point, but primarily because it's near impossible to find a control group today.
That the telecom industry will not readily release cell phone usage data, so cell phone radiation exposures and incidence of disease can be directly compared, is another reason.
So, as was the case with smoking and lung cancer, the statistical link between the carcinogen, which was pervasive, and the disease, which was prevalent, seemed to "vanish." But, as history has since shown us, that didn't mean the association between smoking and lung cancer wasn't real…
So, when it comes to cell phone radiation exposure and cancer, while many claim it's impossible to untangle cause from coincidence, many qualified experts now disagree, stating there's "irrefutable evidence" that electromagnetic fields and microwave radiation from cell phones do indeed cause biological changes, and that these alterations can lead to cancer and other health problems.
In fact, the industry's own research in the 13-country Interphone study showed an 82 percent increased risk of brain cancer from 1,640 or more hours of cell phone use, and independent research has shown a 540 percent increased risk of brain cancer from greater than 2,000 hours of cell phone use.
It is worth noting that at the time that the Interphone study and some of the early Hardell research was conducted, in the early 2000s, only about 50 percent of people used cell phones, setting up an almost ideal circumstance for risk analysis, compared to today when cell phone use is pervasive and it is difficult to find a control group.
Both of these studies, when there was a ready control group available, showed increased risk of brain tumors, "beyond a shadow of a doubt", according to brain tumor analyst L. Lloyd Morgan.
Additionally, you have to remember that cancer may not appear until you've been repeatedly exposed for several decades. For example, a review of 11 long-term epidemiologic studies published in the journal Surgical Neurology two years ago revealed that using a cell phone for 10 years or longer approximately doubles your risk of being diagnosed with a brain tumor on the same side of the head where the cell phone is typically held.
Professor Mild, lead researcher of that particular study, cautioned that the danger may be even greater than what they found because cancers need a minimum of 10 years to develop.
This places the primary cancer concern on our children, as they're now exposed to cell phones on a regular basis straight from birth.
In essence, our children are the unwitting guinea pigs while researchers struggle to come to a consensus on the dangers. That means it's your job to decide which side you want to err on—the side of caution, or the side of trust in an industry that has everything to lose by admitting their products are a danger to human health…
From my perspective, mounting evidence clearly indicates that we MUST invoke the precautionary principle with regards to cell phone use, as well as other wireless technologies.
We must also insist on the release of cell phone usage data to independent researchers so society can accelerate its understanding of the link between cell phone usage and brain tumors, and other health conditions, as well. So far, this information has not been forthcoming from the telecom industry and remains a major reason why the carcinogenicity of cell phones is not more clearly understood today.
Several groups, including the International EMF Collaborative, have proposed that if cell phone usage records were released combined with a $1/year tax per cell phone to fund a major quarter billion dollar annual research program comparing actual usage with various diseases and cancers, the answers about cell phone risks would become very clear, very quickly.
What the Research Says about Cancer Risk from Cell Phone Use
Although the New York Times ran with the "inconclusive evidence" angle, many prominent and qualified experts vehemently disagree with this, including one expert with whom its author reportedly consulted for hours, yet the NYT article still omitted to mention the many studies showing risk of brain tumors that they had discussed.
(Serious omissions and errors in the Mukherjee New York Times article are outlined in a detailed rebuttal by Lloyd Morgan, found at ElectromagneticHealth.org.)
Another such expert is Dr. Martin Blank, PhD, also of Columbia University and one of the most experienced researchers of the cellular and molecular effects of electromagnetic fields in the U.S. (credentials which the New York Times author, Siddhartha Mukherjee—while an award-winning non-fiction writer, but with no background in electromagnetic fields—does not hold).
Dr. Blank gave an informative speech at the November 18, 2010 Commonwealth Club of California program, "The Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields," co-sponsored by ElectromagneticHealth.org. Dr. Blank speaks with deep experience and commanding authority on the impact of electromagnetic fields on cells and DNA, and explains why your DNA, with its 'coil of coils' structure, is especially vulnerable to electromagnetic fields of all kinds. As described in the International Journal of Radiation Biology, April 2011, DNA possesses the two structural characteristics of fractal antennas, 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 is adamant when he says that there IS evidence of harm, and that the harm can be significant. He also points out 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."
I wrote an in-depth article about these findings back in January. If you missed it, go ahead and review it now.
Dr. Karl Maret, M.D. is another uniquely well-qualified expert on this topic, as his background includes medicine, electrical engineering, and biomedical engineering. He has recently begun educating physician groups specifically on the biological impacts of communication technologies, such as cell phones and wireless technologies.
In a recent interview (featured above) with ElectromagneticHealth.org founder Camilla Rees, Dr. Maret 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).
I highly recommend setting aside an hour to listen to this informative interview as well.
The Flawed Research Behind the Cell Phone Safety Spin
As the New York Times accurately points out, trials like the international Interphone study have tried to "cleanse the field of doubts," but rather than lay all questions to rest, they've actually stirred up more questions and doubt about the safety of cell phones.
This is why you simply cannot take the word of the CTIA (the wireless industry trade group) for granted when it states that "no research has found cell phones to be a danger to health." They misinterpret and misrepresent certain studies while ignoring a large portion of the published research showing harm!
Stating that cell phones "are not a danger to health" is an utter farce—which some would call a fraud—being perpetrated on the American people, and all other citizens of the world. According to Camilla Rees of ElectromagneticHealth.org,
"It highlights the lack of integrity in governments, which more and more are turning a blind eye to public health while supporting commercial interests."I wrote about the serious flaws of the Interphone study when it was first released. The International EMF Collaborative found that the study seriously underestimates the brain cancer risk from cell phone use. For example, some of the key design flaws of this study include:
- Results were only provided for brain cancers (gliomas) and meningiomas, but not tumors within the 20 percent of the brain's volume irradiated by cell phones
- The 5-year old results are woefully inadequate as a gauge of risk today, as adults and children now speak on cell phones many hours a day compared to only 2 to 2 ½ hours a month at the time the study was conducted
- Categorizing subjects who used portable phones (which emit the same microwave radiation as cell phones) as 'unexposed', thus comparing subjects who were actually 'exposed' with others who were 'exposed' as a means to gauge risk
- Excluding people who had died, or were too ill to be interviewed as a consequence of their brain tumor
- Excluding children and young adults, who are more vulnerable to the effects of radiation and who now use cell phones heavily
Today, Virtually Everyone is a "Heavy User," which is a Definite Risk Factor
Another fact conveniently ignored by both the CTIA and the media is the fact that the Interphone Study Group did eventually acknowledge that "heavy users" of cell phones—which is MOST people today, including children and teens—had an approximately doubled risk of glioma, a life threatening and often-fatal brain tumor, after 10 years of cell phone use. This should be a wake-up call for all except those in deepest denial.
And here's the most shocking piece of evidence of this risk: their definition of a "heavy user" was someone using a cell phone for about two hours per month!
So how could any rational objective scientist claim that this study proved cell phones safe, when you double your risk of a fatal brain tumor after using your cell phone for just two hours a month for 10 years?
For more information about the Interphone study, I recommend reading the report, "Cellphones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern, Science, Spin and the Truth Behind Interphone." After closely reviewing the facts and the flaws of the Interphone study, the report concluded:
- There is a risk of brain tumors from cell phone use
- Telecom-funded studies underestimate the risk of brain tumors
- Children have larger risks than adults for brain tumors
World-Class Scientists Set Record Straight on Cancer Risk
I also recommend reading through the editorial published January 24, 2011 in the U.K. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine by the lead scientist on the Interphone study, Elizabeth Cardis, and Siegal Sadetzki. (Sadetzki led the Israeli component of the study, which found that regular users, as well as heavy users, in rural areas showed increased risk of salivary gland tumors, due to higher levels of exposure.)
In their editorial, they clarify the Interphone study results, stating that the cell phone-brain tumor data is indeed troubling.
They further advise:
"Simple and low-cost measures, such as the use of text messages, hands-free kits and/or the loudspeaker mode of the phone could substantially reduce exposure to the brain from mobile phones.
"Therefore, until definitive scientific answers are available, the adoption of such precautions, particularly among young people, is advisable.
"While more studies are needed, indications of an increased risk (of gliomas - a particularly dangerous form of brain tumor) in high and long-term users from Interphone and other studies are of concern. ... Even a small risk at the individual level could eventually result in a considerable number of tumors and become an important public-health issue."
According to Camilla Rees of www.ElectromagneticHealth.org :
"It is very important these two scientists are now independently and personally taking such a strong stand, particularly in light of the Interphone study group's own Press Release, which avoided highlighting the risks of brain tumors the study indeed did find. This gives us faith more scientists may inform the public about what the science is really telling us on this very important public health issue, even in circumstances where their opinions may have initially been suppressed."
New Chinese Study Shows Dramatic Increase in Risk for Parotid Gland Tumors
As recently as last month, a Chinese study showed that long-term, heavy cell phone use may also raise your risk of malignant parotid gland tumors (tumor of the salivary gland) anywhere from seven to 13 times!
This is a major risk that needs to be taken very seriously. As Microwave News reported:
"The raw data -- that is, before being adjusted for other possible risk factors like sex, age, income, smoking status and the like -- 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."
More Evidence of Biological Effect on Brain from Cell Phone Use
Another important study, funded by the US government, was published in JAMA in February of this year. Using a specialized brain scanner capable of detecting alterations in glucose, the researchers were able to determine that cell phone radiation triggers your brain cells to metabolize glucose at an increased rate.
As reported by CNN:
"The findings of the study, which examined the subjects during just one 50-minute exposure, raise a key question, the researchers said: What, if any, are the long-term consequences of repeated increased brain activity due to exposure to cell phone radiation?
"We need to rule out that there is a not long-lasting effect in healthy people," Volkow said. "We don't know what repeated exposure and artificial activation of the glucose will have on the brain."
We know that glucose metabolism equates to cell activation. So the findings indicate that radiation from your cell phone clearly has a well-defined measureable influence on your brain. Essentially, each time you put a cell phone up to your ear, you're artificially activating your brain cells.
That much is clear.
But whether or not this excess glucose production is harmful, or can cause a cascade of problems down the line, is still unknown. Dr. Michael Kundi, at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, however, in response to these findings said,
"At present I can only think of an influence on tumor growth. Since a brain tumor utilizes excessive amounts of glucose, changes in glucose utilization may be a key mechanism to support tumor growth."
Remember, Children are Most at Risk!
It's obvious that since children today are using cell phones at an earlier age than any previous generation, their lifetime exposure will exceed that of an adult. This is extremely troublesome, because not only will they—and their DNA—be exposed for longer, their skulls are also far thinner than adults and their nervous systems are still developing, making them particularly vulnerable to damage.
Therefore, I strongly urge you to avoid using cell phones around children, and to not let your children play with or talk on a cell phone.
Remember, Your Body is a "Bioelectric Machine"
Barring all the scientific evidence, it simply makes sense that cell phones and wireless technology can impact the human body once you understand that your body is bioelectric. Your body contains electrons which keep an electrical current flowing, and inside every cell are mitochondria, the 'power plants' of the cell that respond to the body's natural electromagnetic fields.
As Dr. Maret explains in his interview with ElectromagneticHealth.org, your body is a complex communication system where cells, tissues, organs, and organisms "talk" -- it's a veritable "electronic symphony in your body." This communication includes finely tuned bio-electrical transmitters and receivers, which are tuned like tuning into a radio station.
And when you expose a radio antenna to a significant amount of external noise, you get static, and that is what is happening to your body in today's EMF-saturated environment.
Common-Sense Guidelines to Protect Your and Your Family's Health
There are few EMF-free zones left in the world today, so you can't completely avoid all radiation. If you're willing to give up your cell phone and return to using a land line, you can virtually eliminate one of the most immediate hazards to your brain and body. But if you're not prepared to take that step, you can at least minimize your exposure by heeding the following advice:
- Children Should Never Use Cell Phones: Barring a life-threatening emergency, children should not use a cell phone, or a wireless device of any type. Children are far more vulnerable to cell phone radiation than adults, because of their thinner skull bones.
- 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.
If you must use a portable home 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 constantly even when no call is being made.
Note the only way to truly be sure if there is an exposure from your cordless phone is to measure with an electrosmog meter, and it must be one that goes up to the frequency of your portable phone (so old meters wont help much). As many portable phones are 5.8 Gigahertz, we recommend you look for RF meters that go 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 since it transmits signals 24/7, even when you aren't talking. So if you can keep the base station at least three rooms away from where you spend most of your time, and especially your bedroom, they may not be as damaging to your health.
Ideally it would be helpful to turn off or disconnect your base station every night 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.
- 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.
Also seek to avoid carrying your phone on your body as that merely maximizes any potential exposure. 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.
- Don't Assume One Cell Phone is Safer than Another. There's no such thing as a "safe" cell phone. SAR ratings ("Specific Absorption Rate") are used to rank phones safety and they simply are not useful at all. Unfortunately these widely publicized rankings mislead people into thinking that a low SAR phone is safe.
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. The SAR has a very limited use, and only as a comparative measure between phones on this one risk variable, and is not in any way a measure of cell phone safety.
- 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.
- 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.