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EMF Studies

02 June 2015

The Link Between Long-Term Cell Phone Use And Brain Cancer

Photo:  Jason Minto,
The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal
("Towards Better Health" choice of photo) 
"Can we trust massive corporations [like the wireless communication industry which rakes in trillions of dollars] to be honest with the public about the impact of their products on our health and the health of our loved ones? Our experience with the auto industrythe fossil fuel industry, the tobacco industrythe arms industry and the medical industry... tells us that our lives mean very little, when they’re weighed against industry profits."

The Link Between Long-Term Cell Phone Use And Brain Cancer (VIDEO)
by Randa Morris, addictinginfo.org, 31 May 2015

As the nation mourns the loss of Beau Biden, beloved son of Vice President Joe Biden, who died of brain cancer at the age of 46, it’s in our nature to want to understand how and why such a tragedy could happen. For myself personally, I wanted to know how common brain cancer is. What are the possible causes? Is there anything that can be done to prevent it?

It didn’t take long for me to discover through my research, that many reputable scientists and medical professionals believe there is a link between cell phone use and brain cancer. Some studies suggest that cell phone usage can cause certain types of brain cancer, while others studies suggest that it contributes to the spread of cancers that already exist.

In 1995, the rate of all types of brain cancer in the US was 14.0. By 2005, the rate had increased to 14.8. Those statistics come from the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States (CBTRUS), an organization that tracks all reported cases of brain tumors in the country. When I compared the most recent data, which covers the years 2007 – 2011, to statistics from the past two decades, I found a huge increase in the past decade. Between 2002 and 2011, the rate of brain cancer per 100,000 people jumped from 14.8 per 100,000 to 21.42 per 100,000, according to the CBTRUS. That’s a huge change, and it took place over a short period of time. Here are the links, so you can verify the information for yourself. CBTRUS report with statistics from 1995-1999. CBTRUS report with statistics for 1998-2002. CBTRUS with statistics for 2007-2011.

The marked increase was in the rate of benign brain tumors, which nearly doubled between 2002 and 2011. From 1998 to 2002, the rate of benign brain tumors was 7.4 per 100,000 people. Comparatively, from 2007 – 2011, the rate increased to 14.17, per 100,000 people.

While the word ‘benign’ suggests that these tumors are not serious, that would be a wrong conclusion. Just because these brain tumors are not malignant, that doesn’t mean they are ‘no big deal’. Benign tumors in the brain can be life-threatening, because they often compress vital areas of the brain and nervous system. Depending on the size and location of the growth, a benign brain tumor can lead to any number of serious complications, including seizures, paralysis, impaired senses (commonly lost vision or hearing), impaired balance, loss of speech, impaired mental function (memory loss, inability to concentrate or think clearly), nervous system impairments and more. Treatment of benign tumors most often includes brain surgery to remove the growths, a frightening procedure, that comes with its own host of possible complications.

Such a sharp spike in the rate of benign tumors, as reported by the CBTRUS, should be cause for concern. While some of the increase could be the result of improved technology, which may be helping doctors diagnose more benign tumors, it unlikely that could account for such a large increase.

On December 26, 2009, the scientific community testified before Congress regarding research on the link between cell phone use and brain cancer. The testimony included researchers who had participated in one of the first studies on the subject, known as the Interphone Study. During the hearing, John Bucher, Associate Director of the National Institute of Health, National Toxicology Program, testified about the research.

Watch the CSPAN video featuring Bucher’s testimony, via Magda Havas on YouTube. [See original article.]

Since that time, researchers have published additional studies linking cell phone use to brain cancer. One such study, conducted last year by Swedish researchers, suggests that long-term cell phone users are three times more likely to be diagnosed with glioma, the most common form of brain cancer. The research looked at people who have been actively using a cell phone for 20 years or longer.

When it comes to establishing a conclusive link between brain cancer and cell phone use, there are several problems with the available research. First, cell phones are a relatively new technology. Until a few decades ago, a cell phone was just a prop in a science fiction movie. The newness of the technology means that very little research has been done on the connection between long-term cell phone use and brain cancer. We wouldn’t expect any health consequences associated with long-term cell phone use to even become noticeable before this decade, and much of the evidence may not surface until even later.

Another problem is that the phones in use today are very different from those that were in use a decade ago, and those phones were different from the ones on the market in the 1990’s. That makes it hard to pin down a connection between cell phones on the market today and any health consequences that may result from them in the future. Is there any reason to believe that the phones on the market two decades ago were less safe than those being sold today? It doesn’t appear that there is, but again, not enough research has been done to say for sure.

The habits of cell phone users also vary widely. Some people use cell phones occasionally, while others use them almost constantly.

Most of the research thus far suggests that people who have been using a cell phone for ten years or longer have a greater risk of developing brain cancer. There’s still not enough research available to determine how the amount of time a person spends using a cell phone every day effects their risk of developing a brain tumor.

Depending on the source, some scientists and medical experts dispute the link between cell phone use and brain cancer. We’ve seen how certain industries have managed to influence the scientific community before. The tobacco industry, fossil fuel industry and major drug manufacturers all come to mind, for starters.

The wireless communication industry is not just a powerful, billion dollar industry. The industry as a whole rakes in trillions of dollars here in the US and around the globe. The key players are massive corporations like AT&T, Bell, Microsoft, Apple, Google and a host of other Fortune 500 companies, which are heavily invested in all areas of wireless communication, from cell phone manufacturing to wireless networks. The amount of money involved is beyond what most of us can even imagine.

Can we trust massive corporations to be honest with the public about the impact of their products on our health and the health of our loved ones? Our experience with the auto industry, the fossil fuel industry, the tobacco industry, the arms industry and the medical industry (just to name a few) tells us that our lives mean very little, when they’re weighed against industry profits.

Until 1995, very few people had a wireless phone. Today, almost everyone has a cell phone. They’ve become as much a part of our daily routines as eating or sleeping. We feel safer, knowing we have a phone that we can use almost any time, almost anywhere. We give them to our children, because we want our children to be safe. But what if having a cell phone is actually putting our lives and our children’s lives at greater risk?

Until there is more research, we can’t say with 100 percent certainty that there is a link between cell phone use and brain cancer . But we can be aware of the very real possibility, and we can do our best to use our phones wisely and safely. Don’t hold the phone to your ear. Put the phone on speaker and hold it away from your face/head. Teach children and teens to use the speaker phone option, as well. Even though this means that your conversations won’t be as private, keep in mind that doing it could mean the difference between having many more conversations with friends and loved ones in the future, and not.

*Featured image credit: PEXELS


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