Cell Phone Use causes Brain Cancer

Update: see related posts – Cell Phone Ban has Netted Thousands of  Tickets in Toronto, Cell Phone Ban to be Aggressively Enforced on February 1, 2010, O.P.P Laying Numerous Cellphone Charges before February 1, 2010Cell Phone Ban effective October 26, 2009 on Ontario’s highways, streets & roads. , Restrictions on Cell Phones in Motor Vehicle

We all appreciate the convenience of a cell phone.  So much so, most of North America has introduced laws onto the books to prevent motor vehicle operators from using them while they are driving. We purchase them for our children and loved ones, to ensure that they are safe and only a phone call away.

Since so many laws have been placed on the books, motor vehicle operators have decided to go with wireless headsets and this has increased the sales of bluetooths, etc.  Apparently this latest study, linking cell phone use and brain cancer, may have the same effect.

The World Health Organization “WHO” is reporting that they will soon release a ten (10) year study. The WHO used The International Agency for Research on Cancer (the “IARC” is part of the World Health Organization) to conduct this cell phone study. This is the IARC’s mission statement:

IARC’s mission is to coordinate and conduct research on the causes of human cancer, the mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and to develop scientific strategies for cancer prevention and control. The Agency is involved in both epidemiological and laboratory research and disseminates scientific information through publications, meetings, courses, and fellowships.

This study, included 12, 800 participants from thirteen (13) different countries: Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden. The IARC reviewed interviews conducted with about 5000 individuals with brain cancers (half with Glioma and the other half with Meningioma).

The study took place over ten (10) years and was a costly one. The WHO received 19.2 million euros  or $24.4 million in funding (approximately 5 and a half million of those dollars were provided by Cell Phone companies) will release the study in the American Journal of Epidemiology later this year.

The preliminary findings indicate that over the long term (in this case, a decade) anyone who uses a cell phone (placing it up to their ear)  thirty (30) minutes a day, increase their chances of developing some form of brain cancer.

What the World Health Organization  states about cellphones and cellphone use:

Cellular telephones emit radio waves which are also called RF’s or Radio Frequency energy. Constant exposure to high levels of RF energy can heat the tissues in our bodies. Mobile phone handsets are low-powered RF transmitters, emitting maximum powers in the range of 0.2 to 0.6 watts. Other types of hand held transmitter, such as “walkie talkies”, may emit 10 watts or more. The RF field strength (and hence RF exposure to a user) falls off rapidly with distance from the handset. Therefore, the RF exposure to a user of a mobile phone located 10s of centimetres from the head (using a “hands free” appliance) is far lower than to a user who places the headset against the head. RF exposures to nearby people are very low.

Mobile phone handsets and base stations present quite different exposure situations. RF exposure to a user of a mobile phone is far higher than to a person living near a cellular base station. However, apart from infrequent signals used to maintain links with nearby base stations, the handset transmits RF energy only while a call is being made, whereas base stations are continuously transmitting signals.

These findings should not come as any surprise. In February, 2008,  Dr. Siegal Sadetzki a physician, epidemiologist and lecturer at Tel Aviv University, published the results of a study recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology, in which she and her colleagues found that heavy cell phone users were subject to a higher risk of benign and malignant tumors of the salivary gland.

Those who used a cell phone heavily on the side of the head where the tumor developed were found to have an increased risk of about 50% for developing a tumor of the main salivary gland (parotid), compared to those who did not use cell phones.

The study also found an increased risk of cancer for heavy users who lived in rural areas. Due to fewer antennas, cell phones in rural areas need to emit more radiation to communicate effectively.

The American Journal of Epidemiology received Dr. Sadetzki’s study and reported they had found “Based on the largest number of benign (Parotid Gland Tumors) PGT patients reported to date, our results suggest an association between cellular phone use and PGTs.”

The National Cancer Institute doesn’t accept that the use of cell phones causes cancers. The Environment, Health and Safety Online site has different pros and cons on this issue.

Update: May 17, 2010 – see article from the Toronto Star’s “healthzone.ca”

Update: May 17, 2010 – see Cellphone brain cancer link still open question

Update: September 15, 2010 – Dalton McGuinty, the Premier of Ontario, suggests on September 14, 2010 that students be allowed to have their cellphones in classrooms.

Update: September 15, 2010 – Parents overwhelmingly reject cellphones in the classrooms of Ontario and McGuinty’s suggestion of allowing students to have them in the classroom. Parents reacted with outrage Wednesday after Premier Dalton McGuinty said school boards should consider allowing cellphones in classrooms. Acknowledging that phones can be a distraction, McGuinty suggested they could be used to access information on the Internet. But a poll on thestar.com found that the vast majority — 93 per cent — feels it’s a bad idea.

Update: November 3, 2010 – Warning Labels on Cellphones sold in Ontario sought. However, Dr. Arlene King, the Province of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, has said there are no risks associated with cellphone use.
“Health Canada has said, and it is on their website, there is no risk we should be concerned about at this point in time and they set the standards,” Best told reporters. “I take my advice from the scientists and doctors who inform me.”

Radiation-Emitting Devices

Report an adverse reaction or an incident related to a radiation-emitting device to the Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau.

Examples of radiation-emitting devices include ultrasound equipment, X-ray devices, microwave ovens, tanning equipment, or lasers.

For radiation-emitting devices used to diagnose or treat a medical condition, adverse reactions and injuries are subject to mandatory reporting to the Medical Devices Program and may be voluntarily reported to this program.

Cell phones are portable radio devices that transmit and receive signals from a network of fixed, low-power base stations, more commonly known as cell phone towers. With the growing popularity of hand-held cell phones (also known as cell phones or mobile phones), questions have been raised about the safety of being exposed to the radiofrequency (RF) energy they emit.

Over the past decade, the use of wireless telecommunication technology has increased significantly: more than 67% of Canadians now have cell phones. To ensure that public RF exposures fall within acceptable guidelines, Industry Canada, the federal regulator responsible for the approval of RF equipment and performing compliance assessments, has adopted the human exposure limits established by Health Canada (commonly known as Safety Code 6) as their regulatory standard (Next link will take you to another Web site Radio Standard Specification 102).

Safety of Cell Phones and Cell Phone Towers

It’s Your Health

Help on accessing alternative formats, such as Portable Document Format (PDF), Microsoft Word and PowerPoint (PPT) files, can be obtained in the alternate format help section.

On this page:

The Issue

With the growing popularity of hand-held cellular phones (or cell phones), questions have been raised about the safety of being exposed to the radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy they emit. Some members of the public have also expressed concern about the possible health effects caused by living near cellular base stations, which are often called cell phone towers.

Background

Cell phones are portable devices that transmit and receive radio signals from a network of fixed, low-power, base stations. The base stations are usually located on rooftops, towers and utility poles. The transmitting power of a cell phone varies, depending on the type of network and its distance from the base station. The power generally increases the further you move away from the nearest base station.

The number of cell phone users in Canada rose from 100,000 in 1987 to more than 21 million by the end of 2008. To meet the demand for new wireless services, cellular base stations have been put up across the country. Along with the rapid increase in cell phone use, there have also been some alarming media reports and Web sites suggesting there may be a link between certain health problems and cell phone use and/or living near base stations. As a result, some members of the general public are concerned about potential health effects from long-term exposure to RF energy.

The RF electromagnetic energy given off by cell phones and base stations is a type of non-ionizing radiation. It is similar to the type of energy used in AM/FM radio and TV broadcast signals. Unlike ionizing radiation (as emitted by X-ray machines), RF energy from cell phones and other wireless devices cannot break chemical bonds. This means it is unlikely to damage your body’s genetic material.

Health Risks From Cell Phones and Base Stations

Some of the RF energy emitted by cell phones is absorbed in your body. The amount of energy you absorb depends on many factors, such as how close you hold the cell phone to your body and how strong the signal is. So far, the weight of evidence from animal, cell culture and human studies does not indicate that the energy emitted by cell phones is strong enough to cause serious health effects. Some scientists have reported that cell phone use may cause changes in brain activity, in reaction times, or in the time it takes to fall asleep, but these findings have not yet been confirmed.

Public exposure to RF energy from base stations is at a much lower level than that from cell phones. As long as exposures respect the limits set in Health Canada’s Guidelines, Health Canada has determined that there is no scientific reason to consider base stations dangerous to the public.

Cell phones are designed to operate at the minimum power necessary to connect and maintain a quality call. As a result, the intensity of the RF energy from cell phones is well below a level that would cause health concerns. In addition, cell phones and base stations in Canada must meet regulatory requirements that limit the amount of RF energy they emit. See the section below on “The Government of Canada’s Role” for further details.

Although the RF energy from cell phones poses no confirmed health risks, cell phone use is not entirely risk-free. Studies have shown that:

  • Using cell phones or other wireless devices can be distracting. Your risk of serious injury may increase if you use these devices while driving, walking, cycling, or doing any other activity that requires concentration for personal safety.
  • Cell phones may interfere with medical devices such as cardiac pacemakers, defibrillators, and hearing aids.
  • Cell phones may also interfere with other sensitive electronic equipment, such as aircraft communication and navigation systems.

Minimizing Your Risk

If you are concerned, you may choose to reduce your RF exposure by limiting the length of cell phone calls or using “hands-free” devices that keep the cell phone further away from your head and body. Since children are typically more sensitive to many known environmental agents, parents who are concerned about possible long-term risks from RF exposure may wish to take extra precautions by limiting their children’s use of cell phones.

Precautions to limit public exposure to RF energy from base stations are unnecessary because worst-case exposure levels are typically thousands of times below those specified in health-based exposure standards.

The Government of Canada’s Role

Health Canada’s role is to protect the health of Canadians, so it is the Department’s responsibility to research and investigate any possible health effects associated with exposure to electromagnetic energy, such as that coming from cell phones and base stations. Health Canada has developed guidelines for safe human exposure to RF energy, which are commonly known as Safety Code 6. Some of these guidelines have been adopted by Industry Canada and are included in their regulatory documents on radiocommunication licensing and operational requirements.

Health Canada’s RF exposure guideline document is one of a series of codes that specify the requirements for the safe use of radiation-emitting devices. It sets out safety requirements for the installation and use of RF devices that operate in the frequency range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz, including cell phones and base stations.

The limits specified in Health Canada’s RF exposure guideline document are based on an ongoing review of published scientific studies on the health impacts of RF energy. Using data from these studies, Health Canada set the general public exposure limits 50 times lower than the threshold for potentially adverse health effects. As long as exposures respect these guidelines, Health Canada has determined that there is no scientific reason to consider cell phone towers dangerous to the public.

Health Canada has conducted its own research to determine whether RF energy could cause damage to DNA or changes to certain genes. The exposure levels used in these studies included those that were well above the limits specified in Health Canada’s RF exposure guidelines. Based on Health Canada’s research, no effects from RF exposure were seen.

Cell phones are regulated by Industry Canada. This Department also oversees the licensing and placement of cell phone towers (base stations), considers the effects on the environment and local land use before towers are installed, and ensures that these towers comply with their regulatory requirements. Industry Canada has adopted part of Health Canada’s RF exposure guidelines for protecting the general public and ensures that exposures from cell phones and cell phone towers do not exceed the specified limits.

Health Canada continues to monitor the science regarding RF exposure. If there is convincing scientific evidence in the future showing that exposure from cell phones and cell phone towers is harmful, Health Canada will take immediate action, such as advising Industry Canada to review its policies and regulations with respect to these devices.

Update: November 5, 2010 – Cell Tower Radiation Harmful to Humans: study

Update: December 3, 2010 – Man hospitalized after Droid 2 Screen Explodes in his Ear. Imagine, if you will, walking down the road talking on your Droid 2 when all of a sudden you hear a loud pop in your ear and the next thing you know your ear is bleeding. Not a nice thought by any means but that’s exactly what happened to Aron Embry from North Texas. As noted in the news report Aaron, was taken to the hospital for assessment where doctors determined that no hearing loss had taken place but four stiches were indeed needed due to the lacerations from the glass.

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