Salon has published an excerpt from a book by Dr. Martin Blank that is a bit alarmist about EMFs including from cell phones. He invokes the Precautionary Principle.
The damage to DNA caused by EMF exposure is believed to be one of the mechanisms by which EMF exposure leads to negative health effects. Multiple separate studies indicate significantly increased risk (up to two and three times normal risk) of developing certain types of brain tumors following EMF exposure from cell phones over a period of many years. One review that averaged the data across 16 studies found that the risk of developing a tumor on the same side of the head as the cell phone is used is elevated 240% for those who regularly use cell phones for 10 years or more. An Israeli study found that people who use cell phones at least 22 hours a month are 50% more likely to develop cancers of the salivary gland (and there has been a four-fold increase in the incidence of these types of tumors in Israel between 1970 and 2006). […] Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated EMF—including power frequencies and radio frequencies—as a possible cause of cancer.
While cancer is one of the primary classes of negative health effects studied by researchers, EMF exposure has been shown to increase risk for many other types of negative health outcomes. In fact, levels of EMF thousands of times lower than current safety standards have been shown to significantly increase risk for neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease) and male infertility associated with damaged sperm cells.
In this alarmist piece, the studies are not critiqued. They are presented too definitively. There is nothing definitive about this question but the results so far are very suggestive that there is NOTHING to be alarmist about. The WHO EMF designation is also misleading in a propagandistic sort of way because this designation is given to MANY things that in various doses may or may not cause cancer. [And was highly controversial, see here for better info.] We just don’t know but after 10 years of cell phone use, a direct cause-effect relationship is not obvious. People are not getting cancer in droves because of cell phone use. The same appears to apply to other claimed health effects. The solid conclusion that is promoted here just does not exist.
I apologize for not being able to take the time and effort needed to do a good rebuttal on this piece. As many of you know, DN is a more than full-time job without salary and so I can’t devote the time necessary to address this but the data and analysis to dispute it is out there. Here’s a start with a pile of sound, science-based information that rebuts the cell phone EMF fear. Feel free to add more in the comments.
I get the impression that Salon, like many other web outlets, publish such pieces in order to fan the controversy in a shallow way that promotes web hits instead of providing actually useful information. That’s a big disappointment but a reality of the web.
[T]here is no convincing data to link cell phone use and brain cancer. Epidemiological studies have not found an increase in the incidence of brain cancer following the widespread adoption of cell phones in the mid 1990s – as one would expect if there were a causal relationship. Further, large-scale studies have not found any consistent correlation between cell phone use and brain cancer.
A Disconnect between cell phone fears and science « Science-Based Medicine. Critique of a similar alarmist book.
Magnetic field exposure and neurodegenerative disease risk. Even for electrical workers, there is no clear effect on exposure according to this piece. This lends credence to the conclusion that there really are no health effects from EMF exposures at everyday rates.
The Alzheimer’s link? It’s certainly not clearly there is a study that shows the exact opposite. Do Cell Phones Prevent Alzheimer’s? « Science-Based Medicine.
Royal Society of Canada OK with Wi-fi If wifi and other EM fields WERE hazardous, we would have been able to measure the effects prior to this. And, it would up-end the way we think about physics.
Tip: Craig Rheinheimer