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Another Cell Phone-Cancer Study Emerges 212

Posted by timothy
from the let's-just-stick-with-this-one dept.
oxide7 writes "Since the advent of cellular phones, researchers have pondered whether a connection exists between cell phone usage and brain cancer. New evidence always seems to emerge to support or refute such a link. On Wednesday, another study was added to the list. A European study involving nearly 1,000 participants found no link between cell phone use and brain tumors in children and adolescents. This marks the 3rd study this month and the 4th major one this year, all with different conclusions."
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Another Cell Phone-Cancer Study Emerges

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  • follow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2011 @02:21PM (#36912318)

    the money... who pays for the studies?

    • Oh if I had mod points. You are so right and your formula can be applied to research done in various fields. I think Mythbusters presented the best research on the subject. They put Busters' head in a glass box with some alcohol soaked rags and a cell phone that was wired up to some kind of scientific instrument that measures radiation (yeah someone here will know wtf I'm talking about). They found that the radiation did spike a bit when making or recieving calls but it was within acceptable levels. And pre
    • by Dthief (1700318)
      YES!

      I noticed the ones who said correlation was there (causes cancer) were from universities, whereas the other studies were international committees with no mentioned affiliation. I am pretty sure you are right on target.

      This also applies to Fracking

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181)

      FTA: "Since the advent of cellular phones, researchers have pondered whether a connection exists between cell phone usage"

      Ummm, no they haven't. The underlying physics has been known for at least a hundred years and the appropriate experiments to confirm the theory were done to every thinking person's satisfaction long before cellphones even existed.

      Anybody who thinks cell phones might cause cancer has no right to call themselves a "researcher". They're in it for the grant money, book sales and daytime TV a

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sjames (1099)

        While it does seem that cellphones don't cause cancer, a few of your points are weak enough that they should just be dropped.

        a) so are X-rays

        b) I'd rather be exposed to 800Watts of visible light than microwaves

      • Personally I doubt that cell phones have any notable effect on cancer rates, but dismissing it simply because the radiation is non-ionizing would be too hasty.

        There are plenty of documented carcinogens besides ionizing radiation; irritants, burns, bacteria and various chemicals can all increase your risk of cancer.

        The researchers are looking at cell phone use as a whole here. There are a couple of other effects that could plausibly have carcinogenic effects, though it is unlikely.
        There's a list of potential

        • by bertok (226922)

          slight but measurable heating of the brain.

          A modern cellphone emits on the order of 1 W of radiated power. That would take an hour and a half [wolframalpha.com] to heat an adult brain up by 1 Kelvin, but our brains are liquid cooled [wikipedia.org], so that just can't happen.

          If an increase in the temperature of the brain causes cancer, then people who work outdoors in tropical countries ought to get a very high rate of brain cancers. They don't. People who get fevers more often than average ought to get a high rate of brain cancers. They don't. The average person's body temperature c

      • you're wrong. cell phone radiation is the same kind as light, yes. but unlike light, it can cause a very little amount of heating inside your head. the question is, does that heating pose a risk? i don't think it does, but i'm not a scientist. it worries me why so many studies do not agree with each other.

  • Obligatory xkcd (Score:2, Redundant)

    by somaTh (1154199)
    http://xkcd.com/925/ [xkcd.com]

    The graph does make it look pretty clear...
  • as they have been manipulated to sound different. The infamous WHO study was so mealy-mouthed as to be capable of saying almost anything the reader wanted.

    • Right. The whole subject is junk. Just look at TFS:

      New evidence always seems to emerge to support or refute such a link.

      Ok. So there's 2 options: support, refute. But then:

      This marks the 3rd study this month and the 4th major one this year, all with different conclusions

      If each has different results, then we have:

      • support
      • refute
      • inconclusive (not one of two possible outcomes stated)

      • not-supporting not-refuting still-conclusive evidence? wtf is that?
      • by Scareduck (177470)

        not-supporting not-refuting still-conclusive evidence? wtf is that?

        Collecting a paycheck.

  • Non-ionizing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2011 @02:28PM (#36912412)

    Non-ionizing. Quit wasting my time.

    • by bcrowell (177657)

      Non-ionizing. Quit wasting my time.

      Mod parent up.

      Doing these studies makes as much sense as doing massive, expensive studies to figure out whether I can cause my neighbors to get cancer by thinking evil thoughts about them. In both cases, there is no remotely plausible physical mechanism for the direct effect as postulated. The only reason to do the cell-phone study and not do the evil-thoughts study is that the former appeals deeply to people's folk beliefs, which have been built up from decades of movies and comic books where "radiation" c

      • by jank1887 (815982)

        If only someone could go back in time and convince them to come up with another word to describe electromagnetic propagation. Think of all the time and money that could be saved. If it's not an ionized particle, IT'S DIFFERENT!

      • Re:Non-ionizing (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MonkeySpaceCapsule (1314937) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @03:25PM (#36913248)

        Actually, the fact that they are non-ionizing doesn't prevent them from harming DNA. Ionization loosely means that the power is sufficient to destroy a base pair in a DNA chain (via striping of an electron), if the full energy of the wave packet is absorbed. Ionizing radiation is guaranteed to hurt you if it is absorbed by your body (e.g., it will ionize something whether that is protein or DNA). My perception of why "non-ionizing" doesn't mean it is safe comes from a (tangential) education in terahertz radiation (e.g., microwaves). Simply put, just because the radiation may be low in power when averaged over time and space, the instantaneous energy density of the radiation might make it unsafe. DNA can be harmed through lots of different ways other than ionization (strand separation, mutagens, denaturing, etc.)

        For an ocean analogy, just because the ocean has an RMS wave height of 5 feet doesn't mean that *all* the waves will be 5 ft tall. Instantaneous peaks (in space and time) will discharge sufficient energy (albeit non-ionizing) into DNA to cause the strands to separate (and be subject to other effects accordingly). For a gadget example, take the microwave. It isn't ionizing. It doesn't directly cause cancer, but if an organism is subjected to sufficient microwaves of power to denature proteins, the process will cause upticks in cellular metabolism to repair those proteins. I for one do believe that the uptick in metabolism does in fact lead to a higher incidence of cancer (though metabolic studies vs cancer rates are really not well documented in my book and mostly involve healthy people starving themselves).

        I think the best take on cell phone radiation, for which sadly cannot attribute, was from a UK doc several years ago who was worried that the digitization of cell phone signals (vs analogue), while it would lead to a much lower RMS would also lead to bursts of *very* high instantaneous energy. This might denature proteins over time, like cooking an egg millimeter by random millimeter.

        Forget studies on people with cell phones for the next decade or so. People are complicated and are difficult to pin down w.r.t. a cause of a disease. I think we probably need to spend more money on actual fundamental (microbial) research on non-ionizing radiations effect on cellular growth (such as http://www.biomedsearch.com/nih/Cell-phone-radiations-affect-early/20355324.html [biomedsearch.com]). As for myself, right now I have no idea if they are safe, but I for one know that just being "non-ionizing" isn't enough.

        • by Misagon (1135)

          You mention upticks in metabolism. That is very interesting.

          I have seen PET-scans from a study where the subject was injected with doped glycose molecules and using a GSM 800 MHz phone while inside the detector. The scans showed a high concentration of glycose -- a blob in the image -- right next to where the antenna was, and only normal levels elsewhere in the head. Mind you this was somewhat older model of an Ericsson GSM phone with only a single-band that had an actual external antenna.

          Seeing that ima

          • And the control for this study was the same subject holding an equally warm object, correct?

            • And a system with internal electromagnetic fields but no cell phone hookup (like a PDA). These scanners work by shooting charged particles.
        • by dgatwood (11270)

          Here's the thing: non-particle ionizing radiation (e.g. ultraviolet light) is fundamentally just higher energy because of the higher frequency. Claims that UV causes damage while lower frequency RF signals can never cause damage are just plain contrary to reason. Nothing else in nature has a sudden threshold like that; there's always a continuum, such that you start to see significant numbers of additional deaths at some concentration, with near complete destruction of the population at some point, but th

          • I think you're simplifying too much. Its better to quantify things. UV radiation is 1,000,000 times more energetic than radio. So the magic threshold you are talking about spans a factor of a million. Another way to put it is that the cutoff is not arbitrary at all. If you shine light that does not contain photons energetic enough to knock electrons away from their nuclei, it does not matter how long you do it for, or how bright the light is. You will never get ionization. This has been known for 100 years.

        • by IICV (652597)

          Yeah, that's why when I go out for a day at the beach, the sunscreen I put on blocks radio waves as well as UV light.

          Wait, no it doesn't - because non-ionizing radiation doesn't cause cancer at noticeable rates.

          Look, you're right that non-ionizing radiation may, in rare circumstances, cause some sort of harm to the DNA in a cell.

          However, that doesn't matter! Humans are accustomed to wandering around underneath a gigantic, broad-spectrum electromagnetic transmitter (we like to call it the Sun). Your DNA is a

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Yeah, but...when I wave my sell phone near my speakers it makes a horrible noise. You're not telling me that's not really powerful radiation are you? Surely it must do something bad to me.

      • yes, and imagine what sort of cancer inducing radiation we are bathed in, because i can see the radiation emitted by stars billions of light years away.

    • by Dthief (1700318)
      you should stick your head in a microwave while its on.....its non-ionizing....so totally safe
    • by treeves (963993)

      So is UV 'B' ionizing radiation?
      See the problem with your argument now?

    • sunlight is also non-ionizing. so can you look at the sun without burning your retina? nope.
      i think there is no relation between cancer and cellphones, but it would be wrong to dismiss the though just due to it being non-ionizing.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @02:30PM (#36912458)
    Remember, the study everyone was screaming about not too long ago put cell phones (and all other devices that emit radio waves of any sort) into the same carcinogen class as pickled cucumbers.
    • So, pickled cucumbers can cause cancer?
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Bananas are far more dangerous than cellphones, they emit ionizing radiation.

      • by bcrowell (177657)

        Sorry to tell you this, but the whole banana thing was a mistake. Your body maintains an equilibrium with respect to potassium. When you eat a banana, you quickly excrete just as much potassium as you ate. Negligible net increase in your radiation dose.

  • Technology and frequencies have all been changing over the last few years. Even analog to digital. I would be interested in seeing if the studies that all show harm are for the same technology. And the harmless studies are for a different set of frequencies.
  • >This marks the 3rd study this month and the 4th major one this year, all with different conclusions.

    If we were talking about anything else, the obvious conclusion would be that there isn't even evidence for correlation let alone causation. This will continue until the next Scary Thing (tm) comes along to replace cell phones and smart meters.

  • by houghi (78078) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @03:35PM (#36913390)

    I have the conclusion of yet another study:
    Studies cause cancer in rats.

  • The article mentions

    Published in the International Journal of Oncology, and carried out by researchers from the University Hospital of Örebro and Umeå University (Sweden), the study found that long-term usage increased the risk of all malignant tumors by 30 percent, and astrocytomas in particular by 40 percent.

    But this article [jagran.com] says (apparently about the same study)

    People who started using mobiles as teenagers, and have done so for at least 10 years, were 4.9 times more likely to develop astrocytoma as compared to controls, the researchers added.

    Neither article bothers to give enough identifying information for this study for me to actually find the paper (even further reinforcing my impression of widespread journalistic incompetence...). Anybody have a link at least to an abstract?

  • that talking on a cell phone causes stupidity.

    Cheers,
    Dave

    • I'm amazed at the sheer number of people down here in the south who drive their expensive luxury cars and trucks with the mobile phone glued to their ear by their hand, oblivious to the situation and other drivers around them.

      You'd think that if they can spend $30-60K they could buy a $40 Bluetooth speakerphone or ear piece?

      Douchebaggery on our roads!

  • Somebody should check the correlation between conclusions and funding sources.
  • by jc42 (318812)

    Someone has to post a link to relevant xkcd comic [xkcd.com].

    Actually, the discussion on this includes messages with interesting points. The most fun might be the observation that one interpretation of the graph is that the increase in cell-phone users matched the levelling-off of the total cancer incidence, implying that cell phones are preventing a significant portion of the cancers we'd have otherwise.

    Of course, fun stuff like this is likely to be drowned out by the chorus of "correlation doesn't imply causati

  • The number of brain cancers have not increased in the general population whilst mobile phone use has exploded, so it's pretty obvious that mobiles aren't causing brain cancer.

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