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Implanted RFID Chips Linked To Cancer 247

An anonymous reader writes "The Associated Press is reporting that microchip implants have induced cancer in laboratory animals and dogs. A series of research articles spanning more than a decade found that mice and rats injected with glass-encapsulated RFID transponders developed malignant, fast-growing, lethal cancers in up to 1% to 10% of cases. The tumors originated in the tissue surrounding the microchips and often grew to completely surround the devices. To date, about 2,000 RFID devices have been implanted in humans worldwide, according to VeriChip Corp." We recently discussed the California ban on companies requiring such implants.
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Implanted RFID Chips Linked To Cancer

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  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @03:01PM (#20522451) Homepage Journal
    ANY physical contact that somehow disturbs a tissue causes cancer in the long run. Thats why many inert particles cause cancer when continuously taken in for over long periods of time.

    Try - just take a small needle and continue to keep poking it in the same spot in your hand continuously for a year.
  • by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @03:06PM (#20522491)
    RFID does not emit radio signals. It absorbs them selectively and the RFID scnner/transmitter senses the change to the emitted field to know what the RFID is saying. But the RFID tag (passive tags) just basically sit there and alternately go high impedance or short out their antennas to convey information. They get their power from the RF signal itself.
  • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @03:20PM (#20522605)
    More junk science.

    News flash #1: RFID chips do not emit any RF except when they're being read.

    News flash #2: Glass is inert.

    So is chrysotile asbestos.
  • Re:No talk about RFI (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2007 @03:31PM (#20522691)
    In the veterinary industry we've been implanting pets with RFID transponders for years. I'm not aware of any noticeable increase in implantation site neoplasms.

    That said, animals do not necessarily have the same physiology as humans. For instance, it's well known that vaccinations can cause local injection site sarcomas in cats. However studies have shown that injections of inert saline have the same incidence of sarcomas, meaning that it's probable that the cat's innate immune response to the injection in some instances leads to cancer. That may be what's going on with these RFID chips in rats, and that doesn't imply that the same situation would occur with humans.
  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @03:32PM (#20522701) Homepage Journal

    In which case why aren't people with earrings getting lots of cancers from them? How about those people who "mod" themselves (studs etc) but not with glass RFIDs?

    because earrings are outside the skin, the initial wound is allowed to be healed, and the earring touches with the exterior of the skin without inducing any wound.

    everything needs to be neutral. if any material within it has surfaces that disturbs the tissue where its implanted (and it is a high possibility) or, any material within it has properties that induces any kind of other continuous effects on the nearby tissue it may be a cause. granted, there is going to be a noticeable higher concentration of emissions around it - if passive, it will reflect a certain wavelength, if its active, itll emit a certain wavelength. therefore the vicinity will get affected.
  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @03:32PM (#20522705) Homepage Journal

    The FDA is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, which, at the time of VeriChip's approval, was headed by Tommy Thompson. Two weeks after the device's approval took effect on Jan. 10, 2005, Thompson left his Cabinet post, and within five months was a board member of VeriChip Corp. and Applied Digital Solutions. He was compensated in cash and stock options.

    Thompson, until recently a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, says he had no personal relationship with the company as the VeriChip was being evaluated, nor did he play any role in FDA's approval process of the RFID tag.

    "I didn't even know VeriChip before I stepped down from the Department of Health and Human Services," he said in a telephone interview.

    Yet another amazing coincidence. If I could just pay a dollar in taxes every time this happens, somebody sure could get rich.
    Looky, it's the aspartame approval process all over again!

    August 8, 1983-- Consumer Attorney, Jim Turner of the Community Nutrition Institute and Dr. Woodrow Monte, Arizona State University's Director of Food Science and Nutritional Laboratories, file suit with the FDA objecting to aspartame approval based on unresolved safety issues.

    September, 1983-- FDA Commissioner Hayes resigns under a cloud of controversy about his taking unauthorized rides aboard a General Foods jet. (General foods is a major customer of NutraSweet) Burson-Marsteller, Searle's public relation firm (which also represented several of NutraSweet's major users), immediately hires Hayes as senior scientific consultant.

    Fall 1983-- The first carbonated beverages containing aspartame are sold for public consumption.
  • by Jerry ( 6400 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @03:34PM (#20522713)
    In the early 1980s RG Serle was in trouble. Their animal studies showed that Aspartame caused brain cancer. A Researcher for the company blew the whistle and Congress was investigating. RG Serle brought in a problem solver who began by throwing having the rats with brain cancers removed from the studies. The whistle blower, for some reason, reversed his statements. The acting head of the FDA approved Aspartame for human consumption, then resigned. A few weeks later he was announced as the head of the legal department of the new Nutrasweet corporation. His two assistants were the lawyers Congress assigned to investigate the RG Serle problem.

    Shortly after that stories linking Saccharine with cancer flooded the media while the Nutrasweet corp flooded the media with stories about Nutrasweet and its safety. Within months the use of Saccharine plummeted to single digit figures and Nutrasweet took over the artificial sweetener market.

    For his leadership RG Serle gave Donald Rumsfeldt a $6M retiring bonus.

    I am waiting to hear of a competitive RFID chip entering the market. One that is "cancer free". Then I'll know who planted this story.
  • by GrievousMistake ( 880829 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @03:35PM (#20522727)
    Yes, benevolent tumors exist. The summary specifies 'malignant, fast-growing, lethal cancers', though, which sounds pretty bad.
    I can't find that exact quote in the article itself, nor anything specifically mentioning fast-growing and lethal, but they're pretty clear on the tumors in question being cancerous and malignant.
  • Re:Lack of Science. (Score:2, Informative)

    by JoelKatz ( 46478 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @03:39PM (#20522761)
    It's not unusual to perform a study with no control group when you are looking for something rare and don't expect to find it. It's a lot cheaper and easier, and nine times out of ten provides equally good results. However, this is that one time in ten when it doesn't.

    This will have to be followed up with larger studies with control groups and double-blind protocols. The reaction to this study should be to demand more and better studies.
  • Re:No talk about RFI (Score:3, Informative)

    by LinuxGeek ( 6139 ) * <djand DOT nc AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday September 08, 2007 @04:03PM (#20522895)
    RFID packages don't reflect EMR, the process is a bit more involved.
    1. Tuned coil builds energy from transmitted RF.
    2. Energy is used to power chip, calculate response and transmit the answer (more RF, local this time).
    3. When the reader RF ceases, the stored energy in the coil will collapse which will generate a fairly strong local magnetic pulse and possibly a narrow-band high frequency EMR pulse of its own.

    These things would happen very frequently if worn out in the real world and that would concern me greatly. I won't be wearing one.
  • Re:Serious question (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2007 @04:11PM (#20522963)
    Depends on the RFID implementation, but...with passive RFID, the electromagnetic radiation actually *powers* the tag, with just enough juice to send a signal back to the scanner. So, basically, without being scanned... it has no way to be transmit anything.

    My bet is they did something dumb like use a formaldehyde container or something.
  • Misleading summary (Score:2, Informative)

    by ShatteredArm ( 1123533 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @04:33PM (#20523065)

    The Associated Press is reporting that microchip implants have induced cancer in laboratory animals and dogs.

    TFA only mentions dogs in a few paragraphs, and only two cases of cancer near the chip have been reported in over 10,000 chipped dogs (only one of which is said to be linked in some way to the chip). It even says that the link between chips and cancer is not established in dogs, and that it is only something that should be studied more. So, yeah, the AP is not reporting that implants have induced cancer in dogs at all.

  • Re:Serious question (Score:2, Informative)

    by RepCentral ( 1059932 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @05:01PM (#20523211)
    OK, here's how it works. (Worked with all types of passive RFID in the past)

    First, the tags in question are passive. No battery, so they require the reader to
    supply the tag with the energy.

    The implantable chips work in or near the LF (low frequency) 125-134KHz band.
    Due to this frequency, the tags work strictly on near field magnetic waves.
    The tags contain a IC chip with 40 to 50 feet of hair-thin copper strand wound around
    a core. This inductive coil converts oscillating magnetic fields into a voltage for the
    chip. So the chip gets its energy and commands from the reader as one transmission.

    A command, such as "tag id request", has a response section at the end of the command where the
    reader just emits a simple energy-transferring carrier wave while listening to its drive
    circuits. The chip communicates by switching a resistive load on and off.
    These load changes are felt as current or voltage changes in the reader's driving circuits.
    Changes in the reader's driver circuit are decoded by another circuit into tag response data.
    The reader and tag therefore form a single transformer circuit similar to AC power transformers.

    13.56Mhz HF RFID uses the same principle as LF RFID but UHF RFID (800MHz and higher) does not.
    Neither HF or UHF RFID technologies have been demonstrated to be suitable for implantation

  • This is scary (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2007 @06:59PM (#20523961)
    If you ever considered implanting RFID inside your body,
    watch the movie (especially third part) and reconsider: []
  • by Gary W. Longsine ( 124661 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @09:51PM (#20525091) Homepage Journal
    A few minutes with Google shows clearly that the corporation filed chapter 11, and that those proceedings protected the assets of corporate officers and other significant assets worth at least 900 million dollars, and furthermore the bankruptcy court denied compensation to over a half a million victims who apparently missed a filing deadline.

    An apparently well researched and well respected source of information on the corporate fiasco that was the Dalkon Shield is this book:
    Bending the Law: The Story of the Dalkon Shield Bankruptcy (by Richard B. Sobol. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991.) []

    A review of the book containing enough details to confirm that a simplistic interpretation "AH Robins went out of business" is not sufficiently detailed to be a meaningful contribution to the discussion:
    Reviewed by Cary Coglianese, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan []

    An article from the day that bankruptcy was filed:
    Robins, in Bankruptcy Filing, Cites Dalkon Shield Claims []

    A band named after the fiasco, with MP3 files online:
    Dalkon Shield []

    Please, get a login, use it, and post under your real name. It might help provide you with incentive to read more and mouth off less.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein