Dial C for Cancer

Dial C for Cancer
Journalist: Kelly Luker
August 31, 2000

Do cell phones equal damaged brain cells?

Cancer, tumors, memory loss, radiation sickness. It seems one can’t enjoy technology anymore without its faithful sidekicks, suffering and slow death. Following the well-trodden path of telephones, microwave ovens, electric blankets and power lines, cell phones and their transmitter towers are poised to be the next convenience hiding untold dangers.

Most of the controversy stems from the radio frequency (RF) radiation emitted from cell phones, particularly since they are held close to the head. Studies have suggested links between: RF radiation and lymphoma (Radiation Research, vol. 147), microwaves and memory loss (Lai and Wang, U. of Washington, 1999), cell phone use and a rare type of brain cancer (American Health Foundation, 2000), cell phone radiation and DNA destruction (Integrated Laboratory Systems, Research Triangle Park, N.C.) and cell phone use and damaged scalp nerves (Occupational Medicine, July 2000).

However, studies can be quoted that suggest no evidence of problems from the use of cell phones (“… the existing evidence for a causal relationship between RF radiation from cell phones is found to be weak and nonexistent.” Radiation Research, vol. 151).

In other words, who knows? There is no incontrovertible proof that cell phones are a health risk–or that they’re 100 percent safe.

The World Health Organization has asked for more research, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has agreed to collaborate with the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association on studies of the cell phone’s effects on health. However, since the CTIA (the cellular companies’ lobbying agency) plans to pony up $1 million toward the research cost, consumers would probably do well to remember what happened when Big Tobacco funded research on Joe Camel and his friends.