Landmark mobile phone cancer study finds ‘slight increase’ in brain tumours in rats

A NEW US federal study of the potential dangers of mobile phone radiation, conducted in rats, has found a slight increase in brain tumours in males.
The results have raised long-dormant concerns about the safety of spending so much time with mobile phones glued to our ears. But the study had enough strange findings that it has caused other federal scientists to highlight flaws in the research, and experts say these findings and those from other studies continue to suggest the potential risk from mobile phone radiation is very small.
The National Institutes of Health study bombarded rats with mobile phone radiation from the womb through the first two years of life for nine hours a day.
It found tumours in 2 to 3 per cent of male rats, which the study’s authors called low. But females weren’t affected at all and, strangely, the rats not exposed to the mobile phone radiation died much faster — at double the rate — of those that were.
The results were preliminary, and only part of what will ultimately be released.
They were made public before they were officially published — and despite strong criticism from other NIH scientists — because the results were similar to other studies that hint at a potential problem, said study author John Bucher.
The study is part of a seven-year, $US25 million ($A34.64 million) effort conducted by the National Toxicology Program at the request of the Food and Drug Administration.
It looked at the specific type of radiation that mobile phones transmit, called non-ionising radiofrequency.
“This is the first study to actually show that non-ionising radiation (causes) cancer,” said Dr Otis Brawley, the American Cancer Society’s chief medical officer. The cancer society praised the study for “evidence that cellphone signals could potentially impact human health” but noted it didn’t quite address real risk to people.


“If cellphones cause cancer, they don’t cause a lot of cancer,” he said in an interview. “It’s not as carcinogenic as beef.” He said people should be far more concerned about “distraction caused by cellphone”, which he said caused more deaths.
Both Brawley and Bucher said that would not change how they used their own cellphones.
While the study found what Bucher called a likely cause of cancer in rats, he cautioned that how that applied to humans “is not currently completely worked out. This may have relevance. It may have no relevance”.
Since about 1986 US brain cancer deaths had not increased or decreased, Brawley said. That suggested that whatever effect mobile phones might have it was so small as to be undetectable amid regular cases of brain cancer.
Also Brawley and others point out that mobile phone technology has improved so much in recent years to emit less radiation than medical studies simulate. Bucher said the levels the rats were subjected to would be considered “heavy”.
The study also found a slight increase in a very rare type of heart tumours in the male rats exposed to mobile phone radiation. The same NIH scientists looked at mice, but those results won’t be ready until next year.
Some of the study’s own reviewers had trouble accepting the results because of the odd factors, such as rats in the group that wasn’t exposed didn’t contract what would be the normal number of brain tumours for that population.
“I am unable to accept the authors’ conclusions,” wrote outside reviewer Dr Michael Lauer, deputy director of NIH’s office of extra-mural research. “I suspect that this experiment is substantially underpowered and that the few positive results found reflect false positive findings.” The fact that the rats exposed to radiation survived longer than those that weren’t “leaves me even more sceptical of the authors’ claims”, Lauer wrote. Four other study reviewers — three from NIH — also raised questions about the way the study was conducted and its conclusions.
Bucher said he couldn’t explain that strange factor, nor could he explain why females were not affected. Brawley said it could be the female hormone oestrogen was offering some cancer protection as had been seen in some other cancers.
If people were truly worried, they should use Bluetooth or headsets, Brawley said.
In 2011 a working group of the International Agency for Research on Cancer said mobile phones were possibly carcinogenic. But numerous studies over the years, before and after that listing, have found little evidence of a problem.


Original Article

Government study finds link between cell phones and cancer in rats

$25 million study from the National Institutes of Health looked at brain tumors in animals

The National Toxicology Program (NTP), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has found a link between the type of radiation emitted by cell phones and cancer in rats. The project has been underway for more than a decade, and with a $25 million price tag, is the most expensive ever undertaken by the program.

The study involved more than 2,500 rodents, exposed to the same type of radiation found in cell phones, at the same frequencies, for nine hours everyday, for two years.

The findings—that male rodents experienced low incidences of two types of tumors—seem to support earlier findings from epidemiological studies, which found the same types of tumors in humans, and which led the International Agency for Research on Cancer to classify radiation as a possible human carcinogen, back in 2011. The tumors found were gliomas (in the brain), and schwannomas (of the heart).

The results of the NTP study have the potential to move a debate that has been locked in stalemate for almost as long as cell phones have been around.

On one side of that debate are industry leaders and others who say that the evidence has long since shown that cell phones pose no risks to human health. On the other are scientists and some health officials who have argued that more research is needed, but that the available evidence is enough to suggest a possible connection between cell phone use and brain cancer, and justify taking precautions when using the phones.

In a statement to Consumer Reports, a spokesman for the NIH said, “This study in mice and rats is under review by additional experts. It is important to note that previous human, observational data collected in earlier, large-scale population-based studies have found limited evidence of an increased risk for developing cancer from cell phone use.”

What’s at Issue?

In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified the type of radiation emitted from cell phones as a possible human carcinogen; and in May of 2015, a group of 190 independent scientists from 39 countries called on the United Nations, World Health Organization, and others to develop stricter controls on cell phone radiation.

But that move did not dissuade other groups from insisting that cell phones are completely safe. In the summer of 2014, a behind-the-scenes debate led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to delete cautionary advice from its cell phone fact sheet.

Likewise, the federal government says on its website that research generally doesn’t link cell phones to any health problems. And while the Federal Trade Comission requires manufacturers to include info in user manuals about cell phone handling, that’s often buried deep in the fine print.

Why Is This New Study So Important?

Three studies Consumer Reports wrote about in 2015—one from Sweden, another from France and a third that combined data from 13 countries—suggest a connection between heavy cell phone use and gliomas, brain tumors that are often fatal. One of those studies also hinted at a link between cell phones and acoustic neuromas (tumors of the inner ear that are often non-cancerous).

But those studies had a number of limitations that cell phone companies quickly seized on: cell phone use was self-reported, for one thing. For another, the phones themselves were of varying ages, with some as old as two decades. Also, those studies looked only at a 5- to 20-year span; cancer can take much longer than that to develop in humans.

By comparison, the current study, which found the same types of tumors in rats that the earlier epidemiological research found in humans, was a controlled clinical trial; it was specifically designed to simulate the exposures of cell phone users, and all of the important parameters were tightly controlled and carefully monitored. Rats and mice were exposed to the same kinds of radiation used in cell phones, for roughly nine hours each day, spread over the course of the day.

The exposures began in utero and continued through adulthood (which for the rodents in question was about two years). Because rodents develop cancer much faster than humans, two years would be enough time to tell us about longer-term cancer risks.

What Are Some Possible Impacts of the Study?

The results of this large, long-term study could dramatically shift the national debate over cell phone safety. The NTP’s website says that the results may be used by the Food and Drug Administration and the FTC in determining how best to protect consumers from the potential harms of radiation that comes from cell phones.

The CDC might also consider reinstating the cautions it pulled from its web site. (We’ve reached out to the agency for comment, and will update our story once we hear back from them).

Likewise, the cell phone industry may have to alter its stance. The wireless association trade groupCTIA has maintained that cell phones are completely safe, and has fought to block San Francisco from passing laws that would require electronics retailers to notify consumers about the proper handling of cell phones.

Orginal Article

A Possible Cellphone Link to Cancer? A Rat Study Launches New Debate

A giant U.S. study meant to help decide whether cellphones cause cancer is coming back with confusing results.

A report on the study, conducted in rats and mice, is not finished yet. But advocates pushing for more research got wind of the partial findings and the U.S. National Toxicology Program has released them early.

The findings are giving new life to the longstanding debate over whether cellphone use might cause cancer.

They suggest that male rats exposed to constant, heavy doses of certain types of cellphone radiation develop brain and heart tumors.

But female rats didn’t, and even the rats that developed tumors lived longer than rats not exposed to the radiation.

The National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, is still analyzing the findings. But John Bucher, associate director of the program, said the initial findings were so significant that the agency decided to release them. “We felt it was important to get that word out,” Bucher told reporters on a telephone briefing.

“Overall, we feel that the tumors are likely to be related to the exposures.”

What they do not show is whether humans are at any risk from using cellphones, or whether using a headset or keeping them away from the head and body might make a difference.

Dr.Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, says it’s good science and will change the way people think about cellphones and cancer risk.

“The findings are unexpected; we wouldn’t reasonably expect non-ionizing radiation to cause these tumors,” he said.

“This is a striking example of why serious study is so important in evaluating cancer risk. It’s interesting to note that early studies on the link between lung cancer and smoking had similar resistance, since theoretical arguments at the time suggested that there could not be a link.”

Brain tumors are rare. About 23,770 malignant tumors of the brain or spinal cord will be diagnosed this year, according to the American Cancer Society, and 16,000 people will die from them. And there has not been an increase in rates since the 1990s, when cellphones started to be used.

“It is very reassuring in fact that there has been no dramatic increase. It may well be that current cellphone use is safe,” Bucher said. Bucher said he has not changed his own cellphone habits because of the findings.

The partial report covers what the researchers considered the most worrying findings.

“The occurrences of two tumor types in male Harlan Sprague Dawley rats exposed to RFR (radiofrequency radiation), malignant gliomas in the brain and schwannomas of the heart, were considered of particular interest, and are the subject of this report,” the team writes in its report. Sprague Dawley rats are a common type of lab rat.

“These findings appear to support the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) conclusions regarding the possible carcinogenic potential of RFR.” IARC, the cancer arm of the World Health Organization, said in 2011 it was possible the devices might cause cancer and recommended further study.

Cellphones are used by billions of people around the world — 92 percent of American adults own a cellphone, according to Pew Research Center. Children as young as toddlers carry and use the devices for hours on end, so any hint that they might somehow cause cancer would be of enormous concern.

Previous studies have had very mixed results. One study found that holding a mobile phone next to the head might warm up brain cells, but there was not any clear consequence of that. Studies on rats are considered of only partial reliability, because lab rats have their own unpredictable vulnerabilities to cancer.

For the experiment, a contract lab in Chicago generated cellphone signals, both in the GSM and CDMA radio systems — two major systems used by cellphone providers. They directed the signals into cages with pregnant rats, and then kept the signals focused on the rat pups for 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, nine hours a day, as they grew for two years.

So called control rats were raised nearby without radiation exposure.

There was little effect on the newborn rats, except the pups appeared to be very slightly lighter when the mothers were exposed to the signals.

The radiation-exposed rats lived slightly longer than the control rats. “A low incidence of malignant gliomas” was seen in male rats exposed to the GSM signals. Gliomas are a type of brain tumor. There was also evidence of pre-cancerous changes in brain cells called hyperplasia.

“Cardiac schwannomas were observed in male rats in all exposed groups of both GSM- and CDMA-modulated RFR, while none were observed in controls,” the team added. That’s a type of heart tumor.

“No biologically significant effects were observed in the brain or heart of female rats,” they added.

The findings are strong enough to suggest that the radiation exposure caused the tumors in the males, the team concluded.

The full report is due out next year.

The unusual release of the partial report included comments for expert reviewers – outside experts who read reports, ask questions and point out possible weaknesses. They included cancer experts at NIH and three outside veterinarians: David Dorman of North Carolina State University, Russell Cattley of Auburn University and Michael Pino, a pathology consultant.

The rats got significantly more radiation than the levels considered safe for humans, noted Diana Copeland Haines, of the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, part of the National Cancer Institute. But she said she agreed with the conclusion that the rats’ tumors were likely caused by the radiation.

Dr. Michael Lauer of the NIH disagrees and says there’s just not enough information to say whether the experiment shows the radiation caused the tumors.

“I suspect that this experiment is substantially underpowered and that the few positive results found reflect false positive findings. The higher survival with RFR, along with the prior epidemiological literature, leaves me even more skeptical of the authors’ claims,” he wrote in his review.

One British expert was also skeptical. “These partial findings don’t cause me any real concern about health risks from mobile phone use,” said Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at Britain’s Open University.

But Bucher said 70 to 80 percent of the experts who reviewed the report felt it did indicate there was an increased risk of cancer in the radiation-exposed rats.

Original Article

Cell Phone-Cancer Link Seen in Rat Study

An important new study has linked cell phone radiation to cancers in the brain and heart.

The new research was conducted on rats by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, which exposed rats to radiofrequency radiation that comes from cell phones for about nine hours a day for seven days a week. They found that the exposed rats were more likely to develop cancers, specifically malignant gliomas—a tumor of glial cells in the brain—and tumors in the heart.

The study was reviewed by experts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the authors say more research on the link will emerge in the next couple years. There are some important caveats to the new report. A study in rats is never directly translational to humans. It does, however, give researchers evidence that can lead to further research on the impact cell-phone radiation has on people. The findings were also most statistically significant for male rats.

Other research has seen a link between cell phones and cancer, though research overall remains limited. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified cell phone use and other radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as a possible carcinogen in 2011. “This study in mice and rats is under review by additional experts,” the NIH said in a statement about the findings. “It is important to note that previous human, observational data collected in earlier, large-scale population-based studies have found limited evidence of an increased risk for developing cancer from cell phone use.”

Other studies have produced conflicting results. One cohort study in Denmark looked at billing information from 358,000 cell phone users and then compared it to brain-tumor data from a national cancer registry. That study did not find a link between the two. Another recent study published in May looked at incidence of brain cancer in Australia from 1982 to 2013 and did not find an uptick in cancer cases with the introduction of cells phones. Still, other government-funded studies have made connections between cell phones’ electromagnetic fields and changes in brain activity.And a June 2014 study found that radiation from cell phones can lower men’s sperm mobility by 8% and sperm viability by 9%.

The NIH says part of the reason research so far has been inconsistent is that there are various factors that can influence the results of a study. For instance, brain cancers are notoriously difficult to study due to their high mortality rates, and studies are also subject to issues like inaccurate reporting. There are also changes over time in the type of cell phones available as well as how much people use them.

The researchers say this new report is unlikely to be the final word on the possible risks of cell phone radiation, and more data from their research is anticipated to be released in fall 2017.

Original article

NIH experts question fed study linking cellphones to tumors

National Institutes of Health expert reviewers are finding flaws in the agency’s new study that connects heavy cell phone radiation to a slight increase in brain tumors in male rats.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is releasing partial preliminary results of a study on rats bombarded with cell phone radiation from womb to the first two years of life. It found tumors in 2 to 3 percent of male rats, which study authors called low. But females weren’t affected and, strangely, the rats not exposed to the cell phone radiation died at a higher rate than those that were.


Original Article

Why there can be no increase in all brain cancers tied with cell phone use

Several widely circulated opinion pieces assert that because there is no detectable increase in all types of brain cancers in Australia in the past three decades, cell phones do not have any impact on the disease. There are three basic reasons why this conclusion is wrong.

First of all, the type of brain cancer increased by cell phones is glioblastomas. Glioblastomas are in fact increasing, as exemplified in those age 35-39 in the United States, in precisely those parts of the brain that absorb most of the microwave radiation emitted or received by phones. But this increased trend in glioblastomas of the frontal and temporal lobes and cerebellum is not evident when all brain cancers are considered.

Secondly, proportionally few Australians or others were heavy cell phone users 30 years ago. In 1990, just one out of every 100 Australians owned a cell phone and calls were short and relatively costly. The first Motorola brick phone weighed close to two pounds, stood about a foot tall, lasted about half an hour of talk time, and cost almost $4000 – about $9600 in 2016. Only in the last few years have cell phones become ubiquitous with the heaviest use occurring in relatively young users.

Finally, the lag between when an exposure takes place and evidence of a disease occurs depends on two factors: how many people were in fact exposed and how extensive their exposure has been. While cell phones have been around since the 1990s, they have only lately become an affordable major component of modern life.

Consider what we know happened with tobacco smoking, according to the US Centers for Disease Control. The rate of smoking reached close to 70% in US males in the late 1950s, while the rate of lung cancer did not peak until the late-1990s. Thus, a lag of nearly four decades took place between an exposure that was shared by most of the population and a major increase in a related disease, as documented by the American Cancer Society, using data from the CDC and US Department of Agriculture.

The link between the carcinogenic effects of tobacco and cancer did not come about from studying population trends, but by special study of high-risk groups using case-control designs of selected cases and comparing their histories with those of persons who were otherwise similar but did not smoke, and cohort studies of groups with identified smoking histories followed for up to 40 years, as in the American Cancer Society and British Doctors studies. The fact that population-based trends in Australia do not yet show an increase in brain cancer does not mean it will not be detectable in the future—perhaps soon.

In point of fact, several studies from Australia and the United States do find increased rates of gliomas in those who have been the heaviest users of cell phones for a decade or longer. A paper from noted neurosurgeons Vini Khurana and colleagues examined reports from centers in New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), with a combined population of over seven million and reported that from 2000-2008, there was an annual increase in gliomas of 2.5% each year, with an even greater increase occurring in the last three years of the study.


Gliobastoma (astrocytoma) WHO grade IV – MRI coronal view, post contrast by Christaras A. CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Another study by Zada and collegues in the US found significant increases in gliomas in those regions of the brain that are known to absorb the most microwave radiation—the cerebellum and the frontal and temporal lobes. Paralleling this result, the California Cancer Registry, which covers 36 million people, also reported significantly increased risks of gliomas in those same regions. Recent studies from China as well as those from the US Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow, reporting in the Journal of the American Medical Association have noted significantly increased metabolic activity in these same components of the brain after 50 minutes of exposure to cell phone radiation.

Only a generation ago, the hazards of ionising radiation were unrecognized. It was common to find X-ray machines freely available in shoe stores so that you could see how new shoes fit relative to the skeletal bones of your feet. Teens were treated for the disease of acne with radiation to their faces, and those treated with X-rays for ringworm, later incurred increased thyroid and other cancers. Pelvic X-rays of pregnant mothers were routine until the 1970s when leukemia risks were established in children who had been exposed prenatally decades earlier. Today, those who worked as radiographers and radiologists years ago have increased rates of a number of types of cancer. In every one of the preceding instances, the hazards were not recognized by population-based data, but by special studies that compared detailed information on exposures that took place in those with diseases in contrast to those without them.

Thus the lack of an increase in all brain cancers in the general population of Australia or any other modern country is to be expected in light of what is known about this complex of more than 100 different diseases. These unexplained increases in glioma remain gravely worrisome as this is the tumor type that we expect to see grow if indeed cell phones and wireless radiation are playing an important role.

As public health experts who have documented the dangers of smoking, both active and passive, and tracked the growing experimental and epidemiological literature on the dangers of cell phone radiation to reproductive and brain health, we appreciate that the need for precaution must be exercised judiciously. There is no question that the digital world has transformed commerce, the nature of scientific discourse and research, our response to emergencies, and all forms of communication. The epidemic of lung cancer tied with smoking four decades prior provides sobering lessons about why we should invest in reducing exposures to wireless radiation. Like diagnostic radiation equipment today, wireless radiation transmitting devices can be designed to be as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). In our considered judgment, based on more than 100 years of professional experience in this field, it is of critical public health importance that every effort be made now to reduce and control exposures to these wireless transmitting devices, especially to infants, toddlers, and young children.

Original Article here

News Release: Vienna Medical Association publishes safety guidelines for mobile phone usage

Press release in Germany on the 11th December 2015

10 Medical Mobile Rules (translated from German)

•Keep calls short and as few as possible – use a landline or write SMS. Children and teenagers under 16 years old should carry cell phones only for emergencies!

•”Distance is your friend” – keep the phone away from your body. Take advantage of the built-in speakerphone or a headset!

•Do not keep the phone directly on your body – special caution applies here for pregnant women. In men, mobile phones are a risk to fertility in your pocket. Use the outer coat pocket, a backpack or a purse / handbag to carry it.

•Do not use in vehicles (car, bus, train) – Without an external antenna, the radiation in the vehicle is higher. •Do not use when driving at all.

•Make calls at home and at work via the fixed network – Internet access via LAN cable (eg via ADSL, VDSL, fiber optic) is not irradiated, is fast and secure data. DECT cordless telephones, WLAN access points, data sticks and LTE Home base stations (Box, Cube et cetera) should be avoided!

•Work offline and use Airplane mode – for functions such as listening to music, camera, alarm clock, calculator. You do not always need a connection

.•Fewer apps means less radiation – Minimize the number of apps and disable the most unnecessary background services on your smartphone. Disabling “Mobile services” / “data network mode” turns the smartphone into a conventional cell phone. You can still be reached, but avoid a lot of unnecessary radiation from background data traffic!

•Avoid making calls in places with poor reception (basement, elevator et cetera) – in such situations the mobile increases its transmission power. Instead use a headset or the speakerphone.

•Buy mobile phones with a very low SAR value and an external antenna connector if possible.

•This considers the latest scientific findings.


Original Article: