Your brain on a cell phone

Long ago, anti-drug campaigners ran an ad showing an egg (“This is your brain…”) splattering onto a frying pan (“…on drugs”). Well, the same can apparently be said about your brain after years of cellphone use.

The article says evidence of dangerous non-thermal effects from microwaves and cell phones has been suspected since the 1960s. It further charges that national agencies and even the World Health Organisation willfully refused to consider that evidence:

Among the EPA’s most talented bioelectromagnetics experts at the time was Carl Blackman, who has worked at the agency since its inception in 1970. Blackman’s research at the EPA would advance much of what Allan Frey and others had discovered: The effects from EM fields were many and troubling, though far from fully understood. In 1986 the EPA killed Blackman’s research entirely. Carl Blackman believes “a decision was made to stop the civilian agencies from looking too deeply into the nonthermal health effects from exposure to EM fields. Scientists who have shown such effects over the years have been silenced, had funding taken away, been laughed at, been called charlatans and con men. The goal was to only let in scientists who would say, ‘We know that microwave ovens can cook meat, and that’s all we need to know.’ ” One veteran EPA physicist, speaking anonymously, told me, “The Department of Defense didn’t like our research because the exposure limits that we might recommend would curtail their activities.”

Industry influence appears to have permeated even the purest international watchdogs, such as the World Health Organization. Slesin unearthed a hoard of documents showing that hundreds of thousands of dollars from the cell-phone industry was doled out to WHO personnel working on wireless health effects. Some of the heaviest pressure falls on the Federal Communications Commission, for obvious reasons. In 2005 the specially appointed thirty-member Technological Advisory Council to the FCC sought to look into EM effects on human beings. According to one member of the TAC who spoke anonymously, officials at the FCC “told us we couldn’t talk about that. They would not give us any reason. The FCC people were embarrassed and terrified.”

Corporations are also involved in the cover-up:

Industry-funded studies seem to reflect the result of corporate strong-arming. Lai reviewed 350 studies and found that about half showed bioeffects from EM radiation emitted by cell phones. But when he took into consideration the funding sources for those 350 studies, the results changed dramatically. Only 25 percent of the studies paid for by the industry showed effects, compared with 75 percent of those studies that were independently funded.

The consequence? Many brain tumors:

Earlier this winter, I met an investment banker who was diagnosed with a brain tumor five years ago. He’s a managing director at a top Wall Street firm, and I was put in touch with him through a colleague who knew I was writing a story about the potential dangers of cell-phone radiation. He agreed to talk with me only if his name wasn’t used, so I’ll call him Jim. He explained that the tumor was located just behind his right ear and was not immediately fatal—the five-year survival rate is about 70 percent. He was 35 years old at the time of his diagnosis and immediately suspected it was the result of his intense cell-phone usage. “Not for nothing,” he said, “but in investment banking we’ve been using cell phones since 1992, back when they were the Gordon-Gekko-on-the-beach kind of phone.” When Jim asked his neurosurgeon, who was on the staff of a major medical center in Manhattan, about the possibility of a cell-phone-induced tumor, the doctor responded that in fact he was seeing more and more of such cases—young, relatively healthy businessmen who had long used their phones obsessively. He said he believed the industry had discredited studies showing there is a risk from cell phones. “I got a sense that he was pissed off,” Jim told me. A handful of Jim’s colleagues had already died from brain cancer; the more reports he encountered of young finance guys developing tumors, the more certain he felt that it wasn’t a coincidence. “I knew four or five people just at my firm who got tumors,” Jim says. “Each time, people ask the question. I hear it in the hallways.”

Coincidence?

Interphone researchers reported in 2008 that after a decade of cell-phone use, the chance of getting a brain tumor—specifically on the side of the head where you use the phone—goes up as much as 40 percent for adults. Interphone researchers in Israel have found that cell phones can cause tumors of the parotid gland (the salivary gland in the cheek), and an independent study in Sweden last year concluded that people who started using a cell phone before the age of 20 were five times as likely to develop a brain tumor. Another Interphone study reported a nearly 300 percent increased risk of acoustic neuroma, a tumor of the acoustic nerve.

Posted by James on Monday, February 08, 2010