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Possible Cellphone Link To Cancer Found In Rat Study (nbcnews.com) 113

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: 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. 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. A 29-year-old study published earlier this month from Australia reassures us that cellphones are reasonably safe, and do not cause cancer.
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Possible Cellphone Link To Cancer Found In Rat Study

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  • by TigerPlish ( 174064 ) on Friday May 27, 2016 @06:35PM (#52199037)

    People who walk about with their noses in their screens will stand a much higher chance of dying like a bug on a windshield than from radiation.

    This debate is getting as old as climate change and "does this belong in slashdot or not?"

    • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Friday May 27, 2016 @07:15PM (#52199205)

      People who walk about with their noses in their screens will stand a much higher chance of dying like a bug on a windshield than from radiation.

      This debate is getting as old as climate change and "does this belong in slashdot or not?"

      Agree on the first point, but not so much on the second one. Reading the paper, I'm a little surprised by the preliminary results. But if it can be reproduced, they might be on to something.

      I've always been a proponent of expecting no cancer relation from these things, because they aren't sending out ionizing radiation. That being said, these little devices put out RF, and you are using it in the near field, so unless cell phone RF is unlike any other form of RF, there will be some tissue effects.

      So my interest is keen in this study.

      • Me too, though I will be really annoyed if I have to say to pro-cell-phone-cancer people that their hypothesis was correct but their reasoning was flawed. Still, those results are very VERY strange. ClearlyMoreResearchIsNeeded GrantMoneyPlease MyThesisWillBeDoneInAYearISwearThisTime.

      • As with any cause, levels of exposure are critical information. Even if you can cause some cancers to develop by bombarding rats with super high amounts of RF energy, that does not mean that cell phone use poses any significant risk to humans. Even with ionizing radiation we know that at low levels risk is sow low it is insignificant.

        Unfortunately, the scientists did not disclose what levels of exposure were used in the study, which increases the ability of FUD mongers to take it and run.
      • Agree on the first point, but not so much on the second one. Reading the paper, I'm a little surprised by the preliminary results. But if it can be reproduced, they might be on to something.

        To say the truth, it is not really groundbreaking, there are quite old (10 years or so) studies that show a correlation between RF and anomalous activities of brain cells in rats and mice.

        I've always been a proponent of expecting no cancer relation from these things, because they aren't sending out ionizing radiation. That being said, these little devices put out RF, and you are using it in the near field, so unless cell phone RF is unlike any other form of RF, there will be some tissue effects.

        Sorry if I sound rude, but I have always found this stance rather silly. It is not just ionizing radiation that causes cancer, rather, the vast majority of cancer cases in men and animals and plant have other causes (virus, toxic agents etc.) and it is not just raw power that causes harm (a 400W microwave source is far mor

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        I'm wanting to know more about this gender-selective, life-extending-tumor causing radiation.

        The question is not whether these results are right, but why they're wrong.

        • I'm wanting to know more about this gender-selective, life-extending-tumor causing radiation.

          The question is not whether these results are right, but why they're wrong.

          Wouldn't it be interesting though? Some folks might like that gender preference......

    • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Saturday May 28, 2016 @12:39AM (#52200055) Journal

      People who walk about with their noses in their screens will stand a much higher chance of dying like a bug on a windshield than from radiation.

      I doubt you would get that result if you let the people who did this study test that hypothesis. There is not a single uncertainty on a measurement shown in the paper as far as I can tell and they are dealing with tiny statistics which are prone to large fluctuations. Their most statistically significant result seems to by about 5% likely to occur by random chance (based on their own statistical calculation which frankly I would not trust at this point) but with just over 100 measurements it seems very reasonable that this would occur by chance. Indeed they even point out that this rate was achieved in one of the 13 control samples they list in the appendix D!

      With a sample size of 90 differences of a few incidents are not statistically significant when you are making lots of measurements and there is a high degree of correlation which has to be taken into account since all comparisons are made to a single control group so a statistical fluctuation there affects all measurements. As the saying goes there are lies, damn lies and statistics and this paper is very much lacking in statistics...not that the authors are deliberately lying but their conclusions do not seem statistically valid.

  • by dlleigh ( 313922 ) on Friday May 27, 2016 @06:36PM (#52199043)

    A more accurate headline would be "Cell Phone Links to Cancer Only Found in Shitty Studies".

    • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Friday May 27, 2016 @06:44PM (#52199081)

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

      So we're talking about correlation so vague that it's hard to tell whether a population of subjects that developed tumors is more at risk than the rest of the population?

    • A more accurate headline would be "Cell Phone Links to Cancer Only Found in Incomplete Half-Understood Studies".

      FTFY

    • A more accurate headline would be "Cell Phone Links to Cancer Only Found in Shitty Studies".

      What about the study is shitty? I read the whole thing and am curious why you say that.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What I didn't like about the study is that they drew the conclusion that brain lesions are likely caused by radiation in males, although the results showed that 3W/kg GSM is more harmful than 6W/kg GSM and the 3W/kg CDMA group suffered no brain lesions although 1.5W/kg CDMA group had 2 cases. These counterintuitive results (and the very low nominal value of positives) mean we need much bigger sample sizes to draw conclusions.

        The Schwann cell tumors in non-irradiated females (clamed to be non-susceptible) ar

        • What I didn't like about the study is that they drew the conclusion that brain lesions are likely caused by radiation in males, although the results showed that 3W/kg GSM is more harmful than 6W/kg GSM and the 3W/kg CDMA group suffered no brain lesions although 1.5W/kg CDMA group had 2 cases. These counterintuitive results (and the very low nominal value of positives) mean we need much bigger sample sizes to draw conclusions.

          The Schwann cell tumors in non-irradiated females (clamed to be non-susceptible) are as likely in as irradiated males (claimed to be susceptible).

          Well, the announcement is mighty premature in my opinion, since it won't even be done until 2017.

          • by EvilSS ( 557649 )

            What I didn't like about the study is that they drew the conclusion that brain lesions are likely caused by radiation in males, although the results showed that 3W/kg GSM is more harmful than 6W/kg GSM and the 3W/kg CDMA group suffered no brain lesions although 1.5W/kg CDMA group had 2 cases. These counterintuitive results (and the very low nominal value of positives) mean we need much bigger sample sizes to draw conclusions.

            The Schwann cell tumors in non-irradiated females (clamed to be non-susceptible) are as likely in as irradiated males (claimed to be susceptible).

            Well, the announcement is mighty premature in my opinion, since it won't even be done until 2017.

            Agreed. It was irresponsible to release these preliminary, non-peer reviewed results early. Waiting until the study is done, reviewed, and published won't change anything from a public health perspective, even if they are right. The results are interesting, even concerning, but the media is going ape shit, and the uneducated masses won't understand that it's one study, hadn't even be reviewed much less replicated yet. They will take it as conclusive proof and won't hear anything else that may contradict

            • by NoZart ( 961808 )

              People being afraid of using their cell phones too much is an effect i could live with. ;)

              • by EvilSS ( 557649 )

                People being afraid of using their cell phones too much is an effect i could live with. ;)

                If only it would end there I would agree. But it won't. For one, it will turn into a litigation nightmare. If you can convince a jury that your weak ass study evidence is valid then poof, a whole new revenue stream for lawyers. Then it will be the towers (any radio towers at this point) that people will scream about. No thank you.

        • although the results showed that 3W/kg GSM is more harmful than 6W/kg GSM

          The results did NOT show that. All the results show is that if you take a small sample size and take a large number of measurements you can find a noticeable fluctuation. Suppose I told you that I took a coin and tossed it 10 times and got heads every time. With this result you might start to think that the coin is weighted somehow to give more heads. However supposed I told you that I had done that experiment 100 times with statistically identical coins and only once got 10 heads? Suddenly it becomes a lo

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I'm fairly sure rats don't use cell phones. How'd they hold them in their tiny paws? And they can't even talk!
        • Damn - you spotted the most obvious flaw in the study! How comes paid scientific journalrats can't see this obvious boo-boo?

          It is worth pointing out that the sun's radiation includes the same wavelengths as cellphones use, and the sun is on all day, every day of your life, while cellphones only for a few minutes at a time.

          If the radiation was dangerous, people would probably die from skin cancer even if the didn't use use cellphones.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Comparing RF from the sun with RF from cell phones is ridiculous.

            I have an RF power meter and frequency counter that cost ~150 dollars. On a sunny day, with no RF equipment nearby, the meter's RF power reading is 0.1 uW/m^2.

            If I leave the meter running for a long time, I sometimes see bursts ~10 uW/m^2 to ~100 uW/m^2, presumably coming from neighbours' Wi-Fi, phones, etc.

            When I turn on a cell phone about 30cm away from the meter, I get a signal ~1000 uW/m^2.

            From a fundamental biophysics perspective, it is

      • I'm not sure I'd call the study shitty, but it raised a couple of red flags for me. First, what constitutes 'statistically significant' is somewhat arbitrary and has been called into question over and over again, despite some scientists' view of it as almost a natural law. Second, wavelength at the highest cellular frequencies is about 5 inches. For us humans, that's comparable to the dimensions of our brains; but for a rat, it's comparable to their entire body length, and probably two or three times their

        • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

          Studies that aren't blinded properly (and this one looks like it wasn't) are shitty. Improper blinding makes anything that comes after meaningless, and has been responsible for some high profile, and very expensive mistakes.

        • I should point out a couple of factors that you missed.. First, 3E+8m/s is the speed of light/radio waves while traveling in a vacuum, traveling through flesh is somewhat slower, velocity factor 0.6 to 0.7, (shorter actual wavelength).. Second item, peak exposure across tissue is 1/2 wave length(peak to peak), thus peak exposure is down to 40mm range. which is way larger than an average 2 gram rat brain(reduced occurrence), no so for humans.

          As we bring the cell phone in closer to our bodies, the received

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        Did you read the comments at the end? The reviewer echos most of my comments. A couple of the most serious:

        The blinding was poorly done. I think the reviewer actually went to easy on them here. The pathology raters knew which rats were in group A and group B even if they didn't know what A and B referred to. The paper only says that the pathology reviewers were blinded... the veterinarians that performed the necropsies and the study leaders who selected slides for the pathologists are NOT claimed to be

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Pretty obvious what is shitty about the study, it threatens cell phone manufacturers and network infrastructure profits. Industries who have routinely lied about the risks of their products and not just a little but a whole damn lot, fossil fuel companies and greenhouse affect, tobacco companies and cancer, junk food companies and obesity, pharmaceutical companies and the safety and efficacy of the drugs they sell, media companies and the propaganda they sell and news, banks and the fiscal quality of the i

        • Perhaps you should hide in your basement from all the nasty RF radiation, but be careful, it can even find you there!

    • That's a bit harsh. It's better than anything the dogs and monkeys have published.

    • Cell Phone Links to Cancer Only Found in Government Sponsored Studies

      FTFY
  • with Darwin Awards
  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Friday May 27, 2016 @06:38PM (#52199057) Journal

    And I've never seen one use a cell phone. At these prices and the lousy service why would they?

  • Here [wordpress.com] is definitive proof that cell phones do not cause brain cancer. There is no correlation therefore no causation.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Friday May 27, 2016 @06:55PM (#52199133)

    Humans are not rats. And if I dined on 5 pounds of saccharine I'd develop issues as well.

  • Rats are pretty notorious for developing cancer and tumors. Rats are really, really bad test subjects for this sort of thing.

    Also if you look at the VERY top of the PDF, you'll note that the study WAS NOT PEER REVIEWED.

    So as for the headline, is it possible? Maybe. Is it also possible that the authors of the study are trolling for more grant money. VERY LIKELY.

    Mass media reporting on science is fucking awful. Just terrible.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

      Rats are pretty notorious for developing cancer and tumors. Rats are really, really bad test subjects for this sort of thing.

      Will someone please explain to this moron why they use rats for "this sort of thing"? I'm afraid I'll start cursing if I have to do it.

      Also if you look at the VERY top of the PDF, you'll note that the study WAS NOT PEER REVIEWED.

      Dumb fuck, the PDF was a pre-print. What do you not understand about "partial findings"? See, now you made me curse. Goddamit.

      Mass media reporting on scie

    • Rats are pretty notorious for developing cancer and tumors.

      Certain species of rats more so than others sure, but as long as you use a proper control group and a large enough population for the study it's not a problem.

      But this study has other issues legitimate and people claiming it as proof that cellphones cause cancer are only seeing what they wish to see.

  • This ihas been on Facebook all day and driving me up a wall. Take a look at the actual report, something no journalists seem willing or able to do. From the report:

    "Exposures to RFR were initiated in utero beginning with the exposure of pregnant dams..."
    "All RF exposures were conducted over a period of approximately 18 hours using a continuous cycle of 10 minutes on (exposed) and 10 minutes off (not exposed), for a total daily exposure time of approximately 9 hours a day, 7 days/week."

    So yes, if you have been using a cell phone since before you were born, and using it for NINE HOURS A DAY, you have cause to be worried.

    Otherwise, take a deep breath, read the Australian study that said there have been no increases in brain cancer over the past 29 years, and give me a call. I'll be on my cell phone.

    • More than that.

      If you look at the study they only had ~90 rats per group so all the cancer incidences were pretty low, I think the worst-off group had 7 positives and I don't see any good reason why the males would be so cancer ridden while the females were fine.

      This is a cool experiment for an initial investigation but you can't really conclude anything. I think the next stage is to repeat the experiment by getting as many male rates as you can and splitting them between the control and the two highest exp

      • Perhaps males had larger physical bodies [shadowrat.com]?. Thus the males would have absorbed more energy. (i.e. ~40mm cross section or larger,note: adj absorption for 1/2 wavelength, and velocity factor)..

        • Perhaps males had larger physical bodies [shadowrat.com]?. Thus the males would have absorbed more energy. (i.e. ~40mm cross section or larger,note: adj absorption for 1/2 wavelength, and velocity factor)..

          Then I'd expect to more of an effect in the females at the highest dose, and a stronger dose-response curve in both sexes.

          As I said it's interesting, but there's too much noise and not enough signal.

          • The exact opposite occurs, RF absorption in this case is based on physical dimensions.. A larger mass==worse, especially more than 40mm or more per dimensional vector. This also applies to hard radiation, smaller animals can tolerate higher radiation exposures [wikipedia.org], because much of radiation passes through tiny animals without impacting DNA, and other critical cellular functions.

            As for 9 hours day for a 2 year old rat verses 1 hour a day fora human who has a lot more than 9x the lifespan.

            As for low signal,

    • by queazocotal ( 915608 ) on Friday May 27, 2016 @07:59PM (#52199361)

      The study design is worse than that.
      Firstly - it adjusts the power so that the wattage per gram is over the whole body.
      As a comparison - to do the same with a human with a phone and 6W/kg, would need a 600W or so transmitter (average). (mobile phones typically peak at 2).
      It would be so much power it would make you about as warm as sunlight falling on your skin.

      In humans, there are several major differences in real life, and in the standard used.
      Firstly, it is the peak absorbtion of the gram or ten (US or EU) that is absorbing most signal. This means that even neglecting hours a day of usage, small movements around the head, or using it in a different ear will dramatically reduce the time at peak SAR.
      Secondly 'develop heart tumors' - if you look at page 12 of the study, a real problem emerges.
      They say 'therefore organs other than the heart were examined for tumors' ... 'were observed in the head and neck and other sites throughout the body'.

      But.
      Then they present a table, specifically breaking out 'heart' - which shows an apparent effect, from 'others' which really don't.
      They do not - for example - show line entries in the tables for 'head' 'neck'.

      This is a problem because if you take 20 sites throughout the body, and then analyse them against the control, even with no effect, you will often get an apparently statistically significant result.
      This would be less concerning if the numbers were larger - however one more or less rat in the control group getting cancer of the heart (or other parts) would skew this to significant or insignificance.

      Secondly, their control rats did not live as long as they historically should have, compared to other studies.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        Don't forget that the study doesn't appear to have been properly blinded. Improper blinding can easily cause effects as big as they observed.

        Nice catch on the multiple comparisons.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In other words, deny the study you choose to.

      For the most part, any electromagnetic radiation is bad for you. Be it from an x-ray machine, the sun, or microwave ovens. There will never a conclusive study about this because it's a matter of DNA-damaging odds (think "atomic-level physics/superposition principle") and there are other invisible factors involved (e.g., a person's susceptibility to tumors).

      The best thing a study like this can do is describe those odds. If I recall, the Australian study als

    • by Sibko ( 1036168 )

      I'm exposed to radiation of all types, including RF, 24 hours a day. Not just 9 hours a day.

    • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

      So yes, if you have been using a cell phone since before you were born, and using it for NINE HOURS A DAY, you have cause to be worried.

      Also, you have to be a rat. Don't forget that key point.

      Obviously, they are upping the exposure time per day because their study was only two years long. The Australian study was nice because it shows that with reasonable cell phone use there appears to be no increase in cancer incidence. But the next step is to see if it is possible to get any cancer incidence increase with extreme cell phone use.

      Our understanding of how non-ionizing radiation interacts with cellular function is very limited. High volt

    • So yes, if you have been using a cell phone since before you were born, and using it for NINE HOURS A DAY, you have cause to be worried.

      I wouldn't be so quick to draw that conclusion.

  • And I just got my rats each a new phone. And I thought their dirty looks were because I got them TracFones. Guess their first call was to their buddies at Cold Spring Harbor Lab.
  • even the rats that developed tumors lived longer than rats not exposed to the radiation

    Shouldn't the post title actually be New cellphone-caused tumor found to increase your lifespan?

  • by BenBoy ( 615230 ) on Friday May 27, 2016 @09:23PM (#52199573)

    even the rats that developed tumors lived longer than rats not exposed to the radiation

    Yow! Cell phone radiation extends ratty lifespan
    Or possibly Tumors cause life extension in rats! The researchers are such negative nellies ... look on the bright side! [youtube.com]

  • TL;DR -- the study's control rats died young, and comparing the tumor incidences with NTP control rat tumor incidences averaged over more studies indicates that the tumor rate in the exposed rats is very close to the average control rate incidence. The brain results, at least, may be explained simply by the high mortality rate of the control rats in this study. Perhaps the study should be entitled 'Cell phone use kills other rats in same study'

    This is another study with p less than 0.05 as the criterion

  • That there's all this debate about cell phone 'radiation'. It's non ionizing btw and it's RF energy - nothing more.

    Let's face it we've all been exposed to high power RF signals for the better part of a century. So say it's the cell phones is a little bit narrow in thinking if RF does indeed cause certain cancers.

    And need I remind you a lot of medical equipment absolutely RELIES on RF - like the MRI for instance.
  • by Eloking ( 877834 ) on Saturday May 28, 2016 @08:05AM (#52200809)

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

    Well no shit, me and my generation are already all aware that radiation are good for males rats and turtles and will give them superpower and ninja skills.

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

    I'm just gonna strap my cell phone to my head and get me one of them life saving tumors.

  • "Hi honey. I'm working late tonight. Since cell phones cause tumors in males, I need to turn my cell phone off. So, you will not be able to call me."

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