Cell phone and cancer research paper

Study Takeaways

In other words, no one has taken it far enough, or simulated the radio-immersion environment in which we now live, enough to draw conclusions on the cancer front. So this study takes things up a notch, with longer and stronger exposures.

The studies exposed mice and rats to both MHz and Mhz wavelength radio waves each frequency being its own experiment for about 9 hours per day, at various strengths ranging from 1 to 10 watts per kilogram. For comparison, the general limit the FCC imposes for exposure is 0. So they were really blasting these mice. The rodents were examined for various health effects after various durations, from 28 days to 2 years. Before I state the conclusions, a note on terminology.

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Some evidence linking RFR with malignant schwannoma in the hearts of male rats, no evidence for same in female rats. Equivocal evidence linking exposure to malignant brain glioma in females.

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But the non-ionizing radio-frequency RF radiation that cell phones and other wireless devices emit has just one known biological effect: an ability to heat tissue by exciting its molecules. Still, evidence advanced by the studies shows prolonged exposure to even very low levels of RF radiation, perhaps by mechanisms other than heating that remain unknown, makes rats uniquely prone to a rare tumor called a schwannoma, which affects a type of neuron or nerve cell called a Schwann cell.

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The studies are notable for their sizes. Researchers at the National Toxicology Program, a federal interagency group under the National Institutes of Health, tested 3, rats and mice of both sexes for two years—the largest investigation of RF radiation and cancer in rodents ever undertaken in the U.


European investigators at the Ramazzini Institute in Italy were similarly ambitious; in their recent study they investigated RF effects in nearly 2, rats from the fetal stage until death. Also noteworthy is that the studies evaluated radiation exposures in different ways. Yet they generated comparable results: Male rats in both studies but not mice or female animals developed schwannomas of the heart at statistically higher rates than control animals that were not exposed.

Samet, however, cautioned the jury is still out as to whether wireless technology is similarly risky to people.

Electromagnetic Fields

Indeed, heart schwannomas are exceedingly rare in humans; only a handful of cases have ever been documented in the medical literature. When turned on, cell phones and other wireless devices emit RF radiation continually, even if they are not being actively used, because they are always communicating with cell towers. The dose intensity tails off with increasing distance from the body, and reaches a maximum when the devices are used next to the head during phone calls or in front of the body during texting or tweeting.

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The animals were exposed nine hours a day for two years about the average life span for a rat , and the exposures were cranked up steadily as the animals grew, so the absorbed doses per unit body weight remained constant over time. The strongest finding connected RF with heart schwannomas in male rats, but the researchers also reported elevated rates of lymphoma as well as cancers affecting the prostate, skin, lung, liver and brain in the exposed animals. Rates for those cancers increased as the doses got higher but the evidence linking them with cell phone radiation specifically was weak by comparison, and the researchers could not rule out that they might have increased for reasons other than RF exposure.

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Paradoxically, the radiation-treated animals also lived longer than the nonexposed controls. The study results were reviewed by a panel of outside experts during a three-day meeting that ended on March They concluded there was "clear evidence" linking RF radiation with heart schwannomas and "some evidence" linking it to gliomas of the brain.

It is now up to the NTP to either accept or reject the reviewer's conclusions.

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A final report is expected within several months. The exposure measures therefore differed from the absorbed doses calculated during the NTP study. The exposures began when the rats were fetuses and continued for 19 hours a day until the animals died from natural causes. As in the NTP study, Ramazzini investigators detected statistically elevated rates of heart schwannomas in male rats at the highest dose.

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They also had weaker findings linking RF exposure to cancer of glial cells in the brain, which were limited to females. Just why Schwann and glial cells appear to be targets of cell phone radiation is not clear. These are electrical systems, so that may be some sort of factor, he wrote in an e-mail. A few epidemiology studies have reported higher rates of tumors inside the skull among people who use cell phones heavily for 10 years or more.