by André Fauteux, Editor, maisonsaine.ca, 16 March 2018
A historical animal study funded and run by a U.S. government agency has reproduced what epidemiology observes in humans: rats exposed to high doses of radiofrequency (RF) radiation from a cell phone had an abnormally high incidence of rare forms of cancers of the brain and peripheral nerves.
Groundbreaking rodent studies
The ten-year, $25 million U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) project was the most comprehensive and rigorous study ever done on the biological effects of RF in animals. It consists of two separate studies – one on rats, the other on mice – which took place in three U.S. states as well as in Switzerland. To obtain robust results, the researchers used nearly 3,000 animals, double what is required, and invited three panels of experts to analyze the tumors discovered. The two technical reports and the draft conclusions drawn by the researchers were released last February 2nd by the NTP, a program of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). An independent review meeting will be held at the end of March before the two studies are summarized in a scientific journal. (Read the comments here.)
The NTP built special reverberation chambers to expose the animals to three specific absorption rates (SAR) or exposure levels: 1.5, 3 and 6 watts per kilogram in rats and up to 10 W/kg in mice. The American SAR limit for cell phones set by the Federal Communications Commission is 1.6 W/kg The exposure lasted up to nine hours a day for two years, with 10-minute periods interspersed with ten-minute breaks. The animals were exposed to microwave frequencies used by second (2G) and third generation (3G) wireless communication technologies. Produced by software, the waves emitted by an antenna had one of the two types of modulations used in cellular telephony: more powerful and rather short exposures (GSM or Global System Standard for Mobile Communications) or weaker and wider (CDMA or Code-Division Multiple Access, a method using multiple frequencies). The rats were exposed to the 900 megahertz (MHz) frequency and the mice to 1,900 MHz. Half of the 3,000 animals were unexposed, blind (unbeknownst to researchers), “control” subjects.
The greatest biological effects occurred in male rats, a common finding in this type of study, according to the former NTP researcher who designed these studies, toxicologist Ron Melnick. First, there was an abnormally high incidence (11 cases in 550 males vs 1 case in females) of glioma, a rare and very aggressive form of brain cancer. Although the number of casese was not statistically significant, glioma is the same cancer whose incidence is greater in people who use a cell phone 30 minutes per day on average for at least ten years, according to studies by Swedish oncologist and epidemiologist Lennart Hardell. In 2011, his findings were crucial in prompting the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to classify RFs as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B).But the most convincing, because statistically significant, NTP finding related to the higher incidence, and certainly caused by waves according to its scientists, of malignant schwannoma, a cancer of Schwann cells composing the myelin sheath surrounding nerve fibers. This extremely rare form of tumor specifically affected the nerves surrounding the heart of some of the most highly exposed male rats. And the weight of evidence is growing: Microwave News recently announced that an Italian study also found malignant schwannomas of the heart in rats exposed to RFs. This study, which will be published very soon, simulated the waves emitted by cell towers.The malignant schwannoma is similar to the acoustic neuroma (or vestibular schwannoma), a benign but very painful tumor of the auditory nerve, whose incidence is also higher in intensive cellular users over the long term. According to Dr. Hardell, based on the rat NTP study and human epidemiological studies, the evidence is clear: cell phone use causes glioma and acoustic neuroma in humans.
The NTP study “marks a paradigm shift in our understanding of radiation and cancer risk”, Dr. Otis W. Brawley, the American Cancer Society‘s chief medical officer, declared in May 2016. The NTP had just released its preliminary findings — two years before their publication, a rare occurrence — because of their potential major impact on public health. Confirming the validity of the results, Brawley added: “The findings are unexpected; we wouldn’t reasonably expect non-ionizing radiation to cause these tumors. This is a striking example of why serious study is so important in evaluating cancer risk. It’s interesting to note that early studies on the link between lung cancer and smoking had similar resistance, since theoretical arguments at the time suggested that there could not be a link.”
In May 2016, Ron Melnick stunned the world by declaring in Microwave News: “The NTP tested the hypothesis that cell phone radiation could not cause health effects and that hypothesis has now been disproved. The experiment has been done and, after extensive reviews, the consensus is that there was a carcinogenic effect.” In a press release issued last February 2 by the U.S. Environmental HealthTrust (EHT) where he is an advisor, Melnick stressed: “For children, cancer risks may be greater than that for adults because of greater penetration in the brains of children”, their skulls being thinner.
Yet when presenting the final draft reports this February 2nd, the NTP’s principal investigator downplayed their implications for human health. “The typical cell phone has radio frequency radiation emissions that are very, very, very, very much lower than what we studied”, statedd John Bucher during a teleconference. “We studied the maximum that one could achieve during a call in a poor connection situation.”
Human exposure underestimated
His assertion was quickly contradicted by various experts, including French physician Marc Arazi: “The high radiation levels used by the NTP scientists up to SARs of 6 to 10 W/kg, show significant biological effects(…). It is these same and even much higher levels that were measured during the tests carried out of SAR extremities and body by the National Frequencies Agency (ANFR) between 2012 and 2016 on nearly 270 mobile phones”, said the whistleblower about what he calls the “Phonegate” scandal.
Dr. Arazi says he is conducting “a difficult legal battle to obtain the complete publication of the measurements reports that ANFR and its parent ministry still refuse to make public”. According to the partial data he has obtained, some phones emit radiation levels about nine times higher than the FCC limits and those set by most other countries. But these limits only aim to prevent microwaves pulsed by cell phones from heating human tissues. They do not take into account the dozens of non-thermal effects documented for more than 50 years, including cancer.Indeed, when your ears heat up while using a cell phone, it may be because microwaves are slowly cooking them! In fact, users who press it against their head (rather than using the loudspeaker or a headset) receive a higher dose of radiation than that displayed in the SAR.
The reason is simple: the SAR is based on laboratory tests where cell phones are held at a distance of about 1.5 cm from a plastic skull filled with a liquid to simulate the energy absorbed by a brain. That is why manufacturers’ safety guidelines recommend keeping the handset at this distance from the body. “Cell phones have no business being in our pockets, our bras or on our thighs,” said epidemiologist Devra Davis, president of the EHT, referring to the many other health problems (breast cancer, hyperactivity, cognitive, cardiac, fertility, memory problems, etc.) linked to use of cell phones and other wireless devices. According to Davis, if the cell phones had been tested as people use them (in contact with the body), their sale would never have been approved. Other effects observed in the NTP study include: damage to hippocampal DNA in the brain of some rats and, in mice, significant increases in lung cancer incidence and DNA damage to the frontal cortex in some males as well as increased incidence of malignant lymphoma in all groups of females.
The NTP also found schwannomas in non-significant numbers in several other peripheral nerves, including those of the glands (pituitary, salivary and thymus), eyes, uterus, ovaries, vagina and the trigeminal nerve. While there is no guarantee that these effects will occur in humans exposed to RFs, urgent action is needed because about five billion humans use a cell phone, emphasized Dr. Anthony B. Miller, former director of Epidemiology at the Canadian National Cancer Institute who also advises the EHT: “Even a small rise in very rare cancers from cell phone radiation would constitute a serious public health concern”, he commented last Feb. 5th on the EHT website. For Dr. Miller, also a long-time WHO consultant and Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Toronto, RFs must be classified as a Category 1 agent, “carcinogenic to humans”. In 2011, this world authority was mandated by IARC to validate the analysis of a committee of experts who convinced the WHO-affiliated organization to classify RF as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. This is based on a 40% increase in the risk of glioma in intensive users of cell phones over the long term (30 minutes per day on average for ten years). However, taking into account the side of the head where users generally pressed their cell phone, the increase in the incidence of glioma was 100%, or twice the average in the general population.