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EMF Studies

19 February 2016

Mobile Phones and Brain Cancer - When Will We Stop to Listen?

We know from Telstra's own research that two-thirds of
kids aged 3 to 17 own a smartphone, writes Liam Bartlett.
RE-POSTED 19 February 2016:  
Dr. John Tickell, GP, obstetrician, who survived his own brush with brain cancer, thinks Australia should follow Berkeley and take it a step further, becoming the first country to have compulsory, overt warnings about mobiles.  “We were the first to introduce compulsory seat belts, the first to introduce strict gun laws and the first to have plain packaging of cigarettes, all because we thought, why risk it? Well, why risk this for our children?”

Liam Bartlett: Mobile phones and brain cancer — when will we stop to listen?
by Liam Bartlett, PerthNow, 6 June 2015

THE City of Berkeley in San Francisco is famous for its university campus, free speech and free loving. In short, a reputation as one of the most liberal municipalities in the United States.

So probably no surprise that its council members this week unanimously voted for a “right to know ordinance”.

It’s a law about mobile phones that will make Berkeley the first city in the nation to force phone retailers to warn customers about the dangers of possible radiation exposure.

Now, while the telecommunications industry is expected to launch a lawsuit to challenge it, there is no reason why we couldn’t and indeed shouldn’t, follow their lead and enact the same measure here in the interests of public health and the welfare of our children.

The radio frequency radiation (RF) emitted by mobiles has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’.

That finding is based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use. So, let’s look at the facts.

In Australia, we know that brain cancer has now surpassed leukaemia for the dubious distinction of being the biggest cancer killer of people under 40. We know from Telstra’s own research that two-thirds of kids aged three to 17 own a smartphone. We also know that many brain tumours have a latency period of 10 to 20 years before their clinical diagnosis, so the time to be cautious is now rather than later.

And most importantly, we know that already the horizon is beginning to be dotted with tiny disclaimers and legal ambiguities from phone companies that reek of built-in escape clauses. For example, to access the radiation warnings for an iPhone you must follow five steps: Go to ‘settings’, then ‘general’, then ’about’, then ‘legal’ and then finally you land at ‘RF Exposure’.

You then get treated to the fine print where Apple recommends you use the phone hands-free and carry it at least five millimetres away from your body to ensure the RF exposure is at or below the ‘tested levels’.

We can safely assume from this that holding it to your ear means you are copping exposure ‘above’ the recommended levels. How far above is anyone’s guess because they don’t spell that out. And they certainly don’t mention it when you buy the phone, hence the move by the good burghers of Berkeley to make buyers aware.

It’s an omission that rankles John Tickell who has been leading the fight against the phone industry since he survived his own brush with brain cancer.

Dr Tickell has been a GP, an obstetrician, a successful businessman and author, and just for good measure played VFL football for Hawthorn.

He wants to know why companies are allowed to “bury the warnings” and selectively quote from older studies that don’t tell the full story. When you look at the latest health advice from Telstra on its Crowdsupport web page, it’s hard to disagree with him.

Telstra quotes the World Health Organisation as saying; ‘to date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use’ — but there is no mention at all of the serious IARC warning — which is odd considering it is the cancer division of the WHO. Significantly, on the WHO ‘key facts’ page on the net, the IARC information is highlighted at the top, whereas the quote selectively used by Telstra appears much later.

Dr Tickell says the danger is the debate around the science gets hijacked by phone companies using studies that he says are “either funded by themselves or have been shown to be deficient in how they were put together”.

He cites the Interphone study as an example, often used by the industry to support their ‘steady-as-she-goes’ approach.

Interphone ran from 2000 to 2006 and is cited as establishing ‘no overall increase of risk’. However, Dr Tickell points to its sample of heaviest users — accounting for just 10 per cent of the subjects — who spent half an hour a day on the mobile and consequently showed a substantial increase in the risk of brain cancer.

Nine years later, Telstra’s research is telling us that heavy usage for kids equates to 21 hours and 48 minutes a week — or more than three hours a day. That’s hugely more than ‘Interphones’ worst group and with developing organs, dangerously more susceptible. It’s also interesting to note that first iPhone was released in 2007, almost a year after Interphone was ruled off.

Dr Tickell thinks the science is fundamentally flawed.

“Why were there no children or young adults in that study and why were there no corporate users?,” he asks. “Surely, they would be classified as heavy users? And why didn’t they include those who had already died of brain tumours?

“I believe when the Telcos say there are no links shown, they know, like the tobacco companies of old, it is only a fraction of the real truth.”

His point is emphasised when you consider the IARC finding, which is far more recent and reviewed 31 studies from 14 countries.

Dr Tickell thinks Australia should follow Berkeley and take it a step further, becoming the first country to have compulsory, overt warnings about mobiles.

“We were the first to introduce compulsory seat belts, the first to introduce strict gun laws and the first to have plain packaging of cigarettes, all because we thought, why risk it? Well, why risk this for our children?”

— Liam Bartlett is a journalist with Channel Nine and can be seen on 9 News Perth.lbartlett@nine.com.au

http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/opinion/liam-bartlett-mobile-phones-and-brain-cancer-when-will-we-stop-to-listen/story-fnhocuug-1227385401175

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