Cell phones cause tumors in rats says new research
06 February, 2018, 15:25
Even a minute risk could harm millions of people.
John Bucher, a senior scientist involved in the 10-year study, was cautious in his interpretation of the results in a conference call with journalists on Friday.
Bucher said: "These findings should not be directly extrapolated to human cell phone usage".
The study by the National Toxicology Program is believed to be the most comprehensive assessment of the health effects of such radiation on rats and mice and involved 3,000 test animals.
Results of the federal studies released for peer review by the National Toxicology Program today are available here. Back then, other experts argued that the findings of an increased tumour risk in male rats didn't make sense given the overall results and might even just represent statistical noise rather than a real effect. This includes EWG's Guide to Safer Cellphone Use and Six Questions about Cellphone Radiation and Your Health. Bucher notes that the radiation emitted increases when users are in spots where the signal is poor or sporadic and the phone has to work harder to connect. And in 2015, the city council in Berkeley approved a disclosure ordinance that directed sellers to let buyers know of the risk of carrying devices too close to their bodies.
An unusual pattern of cardiomyopathy, a sign of an enlarged and damaged heart, was seen in both male and female rats, the study found. The lowest level of radiation they were exposed to was about the maximum level cellphones are permitted to emit, and the rodents were exposed to nine hours of radiofrequency radiation every day for two years, which Bucher made clear was much more than a regular cellphone user is going to be exposed to.
In 2016 - early days in the research timeline - the NIH scientists released preliminary data warning that it seemed there was a very possible link between cell phone radiation and cancer. The only frequencies used were 2G or 3G. They said they some tissue and DNA issues but "we don't feel sufficient understanding to comment on their biological significance". But they said the study was not created to tease out whether this was a direct effect on the babies or if it impacted how the mothers cared for their young. Interestingly, the babies developed to be normal sized and did not show any other developmental defects. "The evidence for an association between cell phones and cancer is weak".
In a statement, the U.S. National Cancer Institute noted that "often, when concerns are raised about exposures that may confer low-level risk for a rare cancer outcome-as is the case for cellphones and brain tumors-it takes time and many studies to come to a conclusion based on the weight of the evidence". "These studies should have been done before more than 90 percent of Americans, including children, started using this technology day in and day out". Now two new large government studies find there may be a risk but it's probably small.
The findings add to years of research meant to help settle the debate over whether cellphone radiation is harmful.
The findings don't suggest that USA regulations on cellphone radiation need to be tightened, said Jeffrey Shuren, director of FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health in Silver Spring, Maryland, in a statement.
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