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New Evidence Identifies Strong Cell Phone Cancer Link

cell phoneA recent study could change the debate over cell phones and cancer. A research group has reported a sharp increase in the incidence of parotid gland tumors over the last 30 years, with the steepest increase happening after 2001.

The research was carried out at Hebrew University in Jerusalem at the Hadassah School of Dental Medicine by Rakefet Czerninski, Avi Zini and Harold Sgan-Cohen.

For many years now, skeptics have argued that the epidemiological studies pointing to a tumor risk from cell phones must be wrong, because no one has seen an increase in cell-phone related tumors in the general population.

But one of these earlier epidemiological studies found that heavy users of cell phones "showed significantly elevated risks" of parotid gland tumors. (Sadetzki et al showed 49 percent increased risk of parotid gland tumors. Another, by Lonn et al, in 2006, found parotid gland increase of 160 percent (borderline significance).

So the long- term trend data recently reported by Hebrew University is not surprising.

According to Microwave News:

"The parotid gland is a type of salivary gland -- the one that is closest to the cheek next to where most people hold their cell phones. Interestingly, the new ... data show no similar increases in the two other major types of salivary glands, the submandibular and sublingual glands that are further away from the phone."

In related news, another study by Hardell et al in Sweden has confirmed that design flaws in the Interphone study (published May 2010) caused the risk of brain tumors (gliomas) to be underestimated.

The Interphone study claimed that use of a digital cell phone for more than 10 years led to a 118 percent increase in the risk of brain cancer. But an analysis by Hardell et al in 2006, which experts consider a very well designed study, revealed that the increased risk of malignant brain tumors could be as high as 180 percent.

A recent re-analysis of the Hardell data by the Hardell team, published December 17, 2010 in the International Journal of Epidemiology, finally now explains the difference in brain tumor risk found in the two studies.

It shows the difference to be related to differences in methodology: 1) a difference in the age ranges selected for the two analyses, and 2) due to the Interphone study inaccurate classification of portable phone users as 'unexposed' to microwave radiation.

When the Hardell data was recast by the Hardell team using the more limited protocol used by the Interphone study -- i.e. considering subjects who were between 30-59 years instead of 20-80 years used by the Hardell team originally, and classifying any subject who used a cordless phone as 'unexposed,' as the Interphone study had inexplicably done -- the two data sets revealed essentially the same risk of brain tumors.

This demonstrates the lesser risk of brain cancers from cell phone use reported in the Interphone study was a result of the Interphone study's design flaws.

Camilla Rees of says:

"Were a wider age range used, as in the original Hardell research (ages 20 to 80), and subjects properly classify as 'exposed' to microwave radiation if they used portable (including cordless) phones emitting microwave radiation, the risk of brain tumors would be as was found in the original Hardell research: a 180% increased risk of malignant brain cancers."

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Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Salivary gland cancers are typically rare and have few known risk factors, but a new study found a certain type of salivary gland cancer, parotid gland tumors, are on the rise. In Israel, parotid gland cancers increased 4-fold from 1970 to 2006, while rates of other salivary gland cancers remained stable.

Another interesting finding is that 20 percent of the incidence of salivary gland tumors are found in people under age 20.

What's especially concerning about these findings?

Your parotid gland is the salivary gland closest to where you hold your cell phone to your ear and cheek.

Cancer Risk Becoming Hard to Deny

In 2008, a study from Israel that was part of the Interphone project revealed that they found no increased overall risk of parotid tumors due to cell phone use among the entire group of study participants. This statement is misleading at best, as when the risk was broken down further, regular users, as well as heavy users in rural areas showed increased risk of parotid gland tumors, due to higher levels of exposure.

In 2009, Dr. Siegal Sadetzki, the principle investigator of the 2008 study, testified at a U.S. Senate Hearing that cell phones were identified as a contributor to salivary gland tumors.

The new report by Hebrew University states that your risk of getting a parotid tumor on the same side of your head that you use for listening to the mobile phone increases by:

  • 34 percent if you are a regular cell phone user and have used a mobile phone for 5 years (this was only borderline significant)
  • 58 percent if you had more than about 5,500 calls in your lifetime (statistically significant)
  • 49 percent if you have spoken on the phone for more than 266.3 hours during your lifetime (statistically significant)

Unfortunately, for now most people are in a state of ignorant bliss, assuming that cell phones must be safe since they're being used so extensively and there are no public health warnings about them.

The reality is, however, that even cell phone manufacturers do not advise using your cell phone the way you probably use it -- pressed up against your ear.

Many cell phones actually contain package inserts that warn you to hold the cell phone away from your head when in use. Apple recommends keeping your iPhone at least 5/8 of an inch from your head, while BlackBerry recommends about an inch.

And while few people know this, even fewer know that everyday household portable phones emit the same radiation as cell phones, and thus they, too, should be avoided for long calls or preferably only used for emergencies.

Interphone Study Underestimated Cell Phone Risks

The massive Interphone study, which was meant to finally provide definitive evidence on the safety, or lack thereof, of cell phones cost more than $30 million (funded in part by the mobile phone industry) to carry out, and involved at least 50 scientists from 13 countries.

Many experts believe, however, that the study may have been a massive PR campaign by the telecommunications industry to provide reassurance that cell phones are safe so they can continue to generate hundreds of billions of dollars of profits.

That is why it is no surprise, now that the data has finally been released, that it turns out the study is seriously flawed

The study's design flaws were outlined in detail in the report "Cellphones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern, Science, Spin and the Truth Behind Interphone," written in August 2008 by a collaboration of activists in Europe and the United States, and was endorsed by over 40 international scientists. 

Now, a new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in December reconfirms design flaws in the Interphone study caused the risk of brain tumors to be underestimated and also confirms the causative role of cell phones in brain cancer, something prior confusion over discrepancies in the findings had served to obfuscate.

While Interphone noted a 118 percent increased risk of brain cancer from use of a cell phone for more than 10 years, earlier Hardell studies (2006) had found the risk increased by 180 percent.

Finally this discrepancy has now been explained and can be attributed to design flaws in the Interphone study, including what many consider the most egregious design flaw of all: classifying portable phone users as 'unexposed to microwave radiation' when in fact they were very much exposed.

Frankly, we don't know how Interphone researchers got away with classifying cordless phone users as 'unexposed.' There is unlikely to be a single epidemiologist in the world today who would treat portable phone radiation exposure as a 'non-exposure.'

According to Electromagnetic Health, other issues with the Interphone study beyond the 11 primary design flaws 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
  • Risk was not broken down by gender, which may have obfuscated even higher risk of meningiomas in women
  • 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 2.5 hours a month at that time

For instance, the study is filled with ludicrous and disturbing findings such as "heavy users" of cell phones have doubled risk of glioma, a life threatening and often-fatal brain tumor, after 10 years of cell phone use, when compared to users that used a cell phone for 1-1.9 years.

Why is this a ludicrous finding? Because their definition of a "heavy" user was someone who used a cell phone about two to 2.5 hours … a month!

What this means is that if you use your cell phone for two hours a month or more, you may be doubling your risk of a potentially fatal brain tumor. Use your cell phone significantly more than that, and your risk is likely much, much higher.

Quite simply, this study does absolutely nothing to address the hundreds of millions of cell phone users who easily have exposure that is significantly higher.

What the Cell Phone Industry Does NOT Want You to Know

The telecommunication industry is even BIGGER than the drug industry, and they have more influence in Washington.

This is compounded by the fact that a large percentage of retirement funds from several powerful lobbying organizations are invested in telecommunications.

The cell phone industry is doing everything in their power to keep you in the dark about the emerging cell phone research, and the warning signs that wireless communications technologies are not safe.

Meanwhile, government agencies, similar to their stance on tobacco before the evidence became overwhelming, have essentially ignored all the danger signs.

Just like smoking tobacco, they fail to realize that it can take anywhere from 10 to 30 years for brain tumors to develop from cell phone exposure, so we are just now beginning to see some of the tragic effects of heavy cell phone use. The truth is, many believe we are on the verge of a brain cancer epidemic.

Devra Davis, PhD, visiting professor, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, has written a new book -- Disconnect -- in which she exposes research showing that radiation from cell phones has been linked to:

  • DNA damage
  • Memory loss
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cancer
  • Break down of your brain's defenses
  • Reduced sperm count

But this is all information the cell phone industry does not want you to know.

Listen Up: The First Warnings Have Already Been Issued

It's imperative that you are aware of the early warnings on the dangers of cell phones, as it can help you to stay a step ahead in protecting your health. Though not widely publicized in the United States, several countries, including Finland, Israel and France, have already issued guidelines for safer cell phone use.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), while distancing itself from any claims that cell phones cause health problems, also recently released steps you can take to reduce your exposure to radiofrequency energy from cell phones.

San Francisco legislation to go into effect May 1, 2011 actually requires education about such cell phone risks at the point-of-sale. Educational materials must "inform customers of actions that can be taken by cell phone users to minimize exposure to radiation, such as turning off cell phones when not in use, using a headset or speaker phone and texting." (Lines 15-17 of the final legislation.)

Andrea Boland, the Maine State Representative, also wanted warnings especially for children and pregnant women to keep cellular devices away from their head and body, but unfortunately a Maine legislative committee rejected her proposal, citing "inconclusive studies" and a concern about "raising fear in people."

In 2008, Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, also issued a warning to his faculty and staff urging them to limit cell phone use because of the possible risk of cancer. So there are plenty of warnings out there … the cell phone industry has just done a fairly good job at making sure they're not widely heard, or if they are heard that they are doubted.

The Best Way to Protect Yourself

When I use my cell phone when I am away from home I always use the speaker phone or our Blue Tube headset. I suggest you take these protective steps, too, as the best way to decrease your exposure to radiation is to use either the speakerphone or a safe headset when speaking on the phone, and to keep your phone as far away from your body as possible whenever it is on.

You should never carry your phone in your shirt pocket or on your belt, for example.

I also recommend that everyone who uses a cell phone follow these commonsense guidelines, and share them with your friends and family as well. Please do NOT wait for more evidence to come in … start protecting your brain and body from cell phone radiation starting today:

  • Children Should Always Avoid Using 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 and other factors.
  • Reduce Your Cell Phone Use: Turn your cell phone off more often. Reserve it for emergencies or important matters.
  • 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. Even portable home phones, including the older kind that operate at 900 MHz, can be a problem. The lesson from the field is that all DECT portable phones are a problem.

    If you do not know if you have a DECT phone (as many are not labeled as such), the ONLY way to know for sure is to measure. You can learn about measuring instrumentation at

    For "hands free" calls at home, I recommend getting the old-fashioned speakerphone (either attached to the phone or separate) or using SKYPE on your computer on speaker mode, which is terrific.

    With SKYPE you get a phone number that is portable, like with a cell phone, and you can also plug into a hard-wired Ethernet cord when you are traveling to receive messages and make calls (that is, unless you are using the Apple iPad, which unfortunately does not allow a hard-wired internet connection at all!).

  • 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, and keep calls brief.

    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.

  • Turn Your Cell Phone Off When Not in Use: As long as your cell phone is on, it emits radiation intermittently, even when you are not actually making a call.
  • Keep Your Cell Phone Away From Your Body When it is On: The most dangerous place to be, in terms of radiation exposure, is near the emitting antenna. You do not want any part of your body near this area and proximity is everything. The closer the phone is to your body, the worse the exposure -- with the exposure falling off dramatically with distance. Thus, using the speaker mode, the farther you can keep the phone away from your body and still hear the call, the better.
  • 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 radio waves and transmitting radiation directly to your brain and your body, for example over your heart.

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. They can be obtained at