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World Health Organization Says Mobile Phones May Cause Cancer 354

Schiphol writes "A new study by the World Health Organization (WHO) concludes that mobile phone radiation presents a carcinogenic hazard. Are cell phones going to be the new tobacco, then?" This seems to be a new interpretation of a long-tern WHO study of possible cellphone health risks that had "inconclusive results" last May.
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World Health Organization Says Mobile Phones May Cause Cancer

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  • by robbak ( 775424 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @09:00AM (#36307114) Homepage

    Real story: the WHO lacked the guts to put this cellphone nonsense to bed once and for all. Studies that ask people with brain cancers "How much did you use your phone?" are pretty much all they had, and they seem to be the definition of "Confirmation Bias."

    In other news, the media fails science forever, but we knew that already.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @09:03AM (#36307158)

    Why doesn't everyone flip out when things like those are added to Group 2B?

    Because those lack the "radiation boogieman".

  • Citrus Red No. 2 which is used to color the oranges you buy in supermarkets.

    Why the fuck do oranges have to be coloured? Are oranges not sufficiently orange?

    Because oranges aren't always orange and they have imperfections. Shipping and storing only exacerbates this. But suppliers noticed that people bought more oranges when they looked "pure" orange. And the FDA allowed it [] (for whatever reason). Go to an organic food store sometime and look at the produce. You'll think it looks like shit. But it's really just not coated in dye.

    Oh, but if the big bad evil government stopped oranges getting coated with food dye then everyone would complain that the nanny state is killing capitalism. So vote with your dollar and be lost in the sea of people who put perception above knowledge.

  • Re:Numbers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @09:22AM (#36307298)

    Yeah, funny how all those useless studies over the last hundred years have nothing to do with the fact that I am able to read your drivel from the other side of the planet within seconds of you hitting the "submit" button - something that was unthinkable at the start of last century.

    While the popular press likes to present science as a limited series of earth-shattering breakthroughs, in reality science is built upon thousands and thousands of tiny incremental steps, not all of them in the same direction.

  • Why is it that slashdot is all about crowd sourcing things and peer-to-peer distributing the load until it comes to government? Then, suddenly, there's all kind of trust and faith in consolidation of power, authority, (re)distribution of resources, etc..

    Why are you trying to pigeonhole a complex and (in most respects diverse) group of people that often exhibits conflicting but strong opinions? I think crowd sourcing is stupid or nothing more than marketing except for very special cases and I strive for a balance of government regulation so that we get the best we can from capitalism while avoiding some of its horrors that used to happen in our country and still happen worldwide.

    The fact that there are stores that openly and proudly sells uncolored produce tells me that many consumers know the difference and make a strong choice based upon those differences.

    Tell me, right now, how close you live to an organic produce store or farmer's market that sells oranges without dye? And how far do you live from (many) regular orange dying super markets? The "choice" has many dimensions and factors and the way you simplify it down is laughable. Do you step outside and see two identical orange stands in front of your house, one dyed and one uncolored? The fact of the matter is that you are subject to the options of the population around you.

    As a person who believes that going against capitalism often has unintended negative consequences

    Well, I'm glad that you cling to a generic belief when it comes to policy. For me, it's not so simple and I have to make an effort to become informed and make a rational and logical decision that I hope strikes the right balance between capitalism and government regulation so that the people benefit the most. What "unintended negative consequence" did stopping child labor have? What "unintended negative consequence" did banning CFCs have? Oh, of course, the profit margin of some companies.

    , all I really ask to be mandated by government in this kind of case is truth in labeling.

    And where does it stop? Hmmmm? Should they have to label how these oranges were delivered so I can calculate my carbon offset? Should they be required to list which country and company provided the harvest of the oranges and what kind of labor was employed? Labels can be just as extreme as regulation, you know. And labeling food can be just as detrimental to the population as a whole. You can effectively inundate a consumer with information on a product to the point that they just don't care anymore. That's just as big a danger as absolutely no label. Do you think the average high school graduate can look at two dietary labels on two competing products and tell you the precise differences those labels mean for their particular diet?

    What ever happened to critical thinking?

  • by tgibbs ( 83782 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @10:51AM (#36308264)

    Being exposed to radiation between 1 meter and 1 millimeter, less energetic than the harmless visible, is known to be hazardous. We call them micro waves.

    Sorry, but this is a really dumb remark. Did you ever hear of an "Easy Bake" oven? In fact, visible light can harm you in exactly the same way as microwaves. It is purely a matter of energy and heat dissipation. If I put you in a box with a few thousand watts of visible light, you will be just as cooked as if you were in a microwave oven at the same wattage. There is only one known mechanism whereby electromagnetic radiation of frequency too low to break molecular bonds can cause biological damage, and that is to pump in energy faster than the body can dissipate it as heat. If you do that, you will warm up and eventually cook. Of course, this is entirely irrelevant to the alleged danger of low intensity microwave energy, where the energy flux is far, far below the body's heat dissipation capacity.

    Ultraviolet radiation, of course, does have enough photon energy to break molecular bonds, but the energy of microwave photons is orders of magnitude lower. In fact, the energy of a microwave photon is on the same order as the energy of the random Brownian molecular impacts that every molecule of every cell experiences constantly. As a result, it would be a remarkable biological achievement if an organism were to evolve the ability to even detect low intensity microwaves. It would have to have some way of preserving that tiny amount of energy--too small to break any bonds, at most able to jiggle or twist them a bit--and isolate it from the huge background of similar energy Brownian noise, and do so long enough for some protein or other biological molecule to react and trigger the use of biological energy to make some sort of persistent change in the cell.

    Meanwhile, of course, despite a huge increase in the use of cell phones, there has been no increase in the overall incidence or death rate of brain cancer.

    Remarkable claims require remarkable evidence. In this case we have a remarkable claim, no plausible mechanism, and evidence that can most charitably be termed ambiguous.

  • by JasterBobaMereel ( 1102861 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @10:53AM (#36308298)

    Unbridled capitalism leads to companies doing anything they can get away with

    Nanny state leads to government making more and more rules for companies to follow

    Minimal government means forcing the companies to label properly

    i.e. tell you the oranges are covered in dye, and that it is thought to be very low risk possible carcinogen, and leaving you to make up your on mind...

    I don't mind if companies sell oranges covered in arsenic as long as they tell you first ...

  • by SteelAngel ( 139767 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @11:02AM (#36308418)

    People only freak out when they find out what 'food additives' are because they are informed about them in a way designed to make them freak out. It's scare tactics - exactly what has been used to control uninformed populations for centuries. It doesn't matter if it's true or false. Once the scare enters the public consciousness, it's impossible to dislodge.

    "Do YOU know what THEY put in YOUR food?"
    "Do YOU know how ANIMALS are SLAUGHTERED?"
    "Do YOU know that CELL PHONES cause CANCER?"

    That's not an invitation to learn more, that's an invitation to your amygdala to go batshit insane.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @11:16AM (#36308590)

    And we ignorant masses typically don't buy organic because we don't think it's worth the added price or environmental impact.

    There's also the unsupportability of it. If we all switched to organic, most of us would die of starvation. It's a less effective agricultural technique. Organic food is a luxury item for rich westerners.

  • Re:No-Win Scenario (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpeZek ( 970136 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @12:15PM (#36309262) Journal

    Plenty of vaccines and pro-active considerations, no outbreak = vaccines are useless and medicine just a money-grubbing scam

    Plenty of vaccines and pro-active considerations, mild outbreak = vaccines clearly didn't do anything, medicine is just a money-grubbing scam

    No vaccines, no pro-active considerations, major outbreak = stupid government, why didn't you take pro-active steps to prevent this!?

  • by CowTipperGore ( 1081903 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @02:26PM (#36310832)

    There's also the unsupportability of it. If we all switched to organic, most of us would die of starvation. It's a less effective agricultural technique. Organic food is a luxury item for rich westerners.

    The whole concept of "organic" exists only because rich westerners decided to sell the future for cheaper food now. By destroying our topsoil and relying on petroleum-based fertilizers, we've created an unsustainable system. You're simply affirming what the GP said - saving an extra five or ten percent for food is more important than the poisons in the food you feed your family. Further, integrated "organic" systems are much more effective on normal farms.

    And before you worry about starvation, the US wastes nearly 50% of food grown []. Some loss will be unavoidable in any agricultural production system but nearly 15% of the waste was at the consumer end of the process. A big part of the remaining loss is an inherent cost of centralized and mechanized agriculture - waste that could be significantly reduced with more traditional farming practices and local consumption.

Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs. -- Kernighan