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EMF Studies

27 December 2015

Thyroid Cancer & Mobile Phone Use

Thyroid Cancer & Mobile Phone Use
saferemr.com, 24 December 2015

Korea's Thyroid-Cancer “Epidemic” — Screening and Overdiagnosis (and wireless phone use?)
November 5, 2014

According to today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, South Korea has experienced a thyroid cancer epidemic in recent years (see paper and Figure below).

"Thyroid cancer is now the most common type of cancer diagnosed in South Korea."The authors of this paper attribute the "epidemic" to a government-sponsored cancer screening program. As evidence, they report,

"There was a strong correlation between the proportion of the population screened in a region in 2008 and 2009 and the regional incidence of thyroid cancer in 2009. Although the aggregate correlation could be vulnerable to the ecologic fallacy, the finding of significant positive correlations in each of eight age- and sex-based groups suggests that the finding is more robust."
That widespread screening identifies more cancer is not surprising. This could at least partly explain the increasing incidence of thyroid cancer observed in South Korea, and nine other countries including the U.S.

The authors argue that most of these cancers are not life-threatening and advise other countries against widespread screening for thyroid cancer:

"The experience with thyroid-cancer screening in South Korea should serve as a cautionary tale for the rest of the world. During the past two decades, multiple countries have had a substantial increase in thyroid-cancer incidence without a concomitant increase in mortality. According to the Cancer Incidence in Five Continents database maintained by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the rate of thyroid-cancer detection has more than doubled in France, Italy, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Israel, China, Australia, Canada, and the United States. The South Korean experience suggests that these countries are seeing just the tip of the thyroid-cancer iceberg — and that if they want to prevent their own “epidemic,” they will need to discourage early thyroid-cancer detection."

I'm not sure the answer is to simply ignore these cancers, but I don't want to address that debate here.

Rather, I would like to focus on the question why has thyroid cancer become so prevalent in at least ten nations? According to the American Cancer Society, although some thyroid cancers are linked to exposure to ionizing radiation, "the exact cause of most thyroid cancers is not yet known."

Could exposure to the electromagnetic radiation (RF and ELF) emitted by cell phones and cordless phones be contributing to this worldwide thyroid cancer epidemic? Isn't time for our government to fund research on the risk factors underlying this epidemic?

Hyeong Sik Ahn, Hyun Jung Kim, H. Gilbert Welch. Korea's Thyroid-Cancer “Epidemic” — Screening and Overdiagnosis. N Engl J Med 2014; 371:1765-1767 November 6, 2014
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1409841

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