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EMF Studies

09 January 2015

Neurosurgeon: Is Your Cell Phone Calling for a Brain Tumor?


"The jury is still out on this debate. However, I am reminded of other controversial scientific issues in the past, such as the link between smoking and cancer. Arthur Schopenhauer, a German philosopher, once said, 'All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.'"

Penney’s Two Cents: Is your cell phone calling for a brain tumor?
by Don Penney, M.D. wyomingmedicalcenter.org,
16 December 2014

The use of cellular telephones has grown explosively over the past two decades. Some estimates put the number of wireless users as high as 300 million in the United States alone and at about 5 billion worldwide. Many of them are children and teenagers.

In recent years, some of have speculated that microwave exposure from cellular phones could increase a person’s risk of developing brain tumors later in life. Cell phones emit non-ionizing electromagnetic fields – or radiation not believed to have enough energy to ionize atoms or molecules. But, no long-term study has been done to determine what cell phone radiation does to the brain over many years, particularly when phones are held close to the ear. Of particular concern, is the fact that children’s skulls and scalps are thinner than adults, so radiation has the potential to penetrate deeper into the brain of young children. In addition, children with growing brains have cells that are rapidly dividing and radiation can have a greater impact.

The question of risk of developing a brain tumor remains controversial. Studies on both sides of the argument have been published. However, one concern remains open: Children at younger ages are using cell phones and studies to date have not been able to determine the relationship, considering that it may take 30 to 40 years of use to establish a clear link.

What is known? Most of the scientific research studies looking for clear link have been small and have had flaws in the design of the study. Despite this, and while nothing has been conclusively linked, there is a growing number of health groups and research warning of possible long-term side effects to cell phone use.
Results from the largest international study on cell phones and cancer released in 2010, showed participants in the study who used a cell phone for 10 years or more had doubled the rate of brain glioma, a type of tumor.
In May 2011, The World Health Organization listed mobile phone use in the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform. The decision came after 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the United States, reviewed peer-reviewed studies on cell phone safety and categorize personal exposure as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer for the first time classified mobile phones in their “gold-standard” rating system as devices that could possibly cause cancer in humans.
In 2012, the Hardell group of Sweden published a study suggesting a link between using a mobile phone and a few specific types of brain tumor, particularly in heavier users.
The European Environmental Agency has encouraged more studies to further clarify this issue; however they have reported that cell phones could be as big a public health risk as smoking, asbestos and leaded gasoline.

“The biggest problem we have is that we know most environmental factors take several decades of exposure before we really see the consequences,” says Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He goes on to say that the type of radiation emitted by cell phones is similar to that emitted by a low-powered microwave oven, and in simplistic terms, it has the same effect on the brain as a microwave has on food.

There is still a large group which does not believe that a clear relationship exists between cell phones and brain tumors. In December 2010, a large study of about 59,000 people who had used cell phones from 5 to 10 years indicated no substantial change in brain cancer incidence. However, there was some question as to the length of the study. Many scientists feel a 10-year period is too short to determine potential detrimental effects.

What I know for sure, is that the jury is still out on this debate. However, I am reminded of other controversial scientific issues in the past, such as the link between smoking and cancer. Arthur Schopenhauer, a German philosopher, once said, “All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

Until the issue is resolved, I would recommend taking these precautions when using your cell phone: Use the speaker phone when in your car, and use earbuds or the speaker during prolonged conversations to keep the phone a safe distance from your ear. Lastly, do some research when you’re in the market for a new phone. Do a quick Internet search to find lists on the amount of radiation a phone emits, like this one.

“Penney’s Two Cents” is a column about brain and spine health by Neurosurgeon Dr. Don Penney of Wyoming Brain and Spine Associates in Casper, 1020 E. Second St., Suite 200.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Don Penney, M.D., trained in and practiced emergency medicine at the University of Illinois and Cook County Hospital in Chicago and joined the teaching staff as an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery. He ran a solo practice in Atlanta, Ga., for 17 years where he was also a full professor of emergency medicine at Medical College of Georgia, Augusta. In 2006, he helped establish the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Georgia Chapter where he directed the neuroscience program. He has authored numerous chapters in textbooks and scientific papers in addition to delivering multiple national lectures for the American College of Emergency Medicine.

http://wyomingmedicalcenter.org/pulse/2014/12/16/penneys-two-cents-is-your-cell-phone-calling-for-a-brain-tumor/

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