saferemr.com, 28 August 2018
In a new paper, “Clear evidence of cell-phone RF radiation cancer risk” published in the journal IEEE Microwave Magazine, Dr. James C. Lin states that the results of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) cell phone radiation study suggest that current radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines are inadequate to protect human health (1). Furthermore, the paper recommends that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) re-assess the research and consider upgrading the classification of RF radiation from "possibly carcinogenic to humans" (Group 2B) to probably carcinogenic (i.e., Group 2A).
Although Dr. Lin raises some criticisms of the NTP study in this and an earlier paper (1, 2), he recognizes the importance of this research to the field and the implications of the study findings for public health (2).
He praised the FDA and the NTP for the initiation and conduct of the study and emphasized the need for the “U.S. government to step in and conduct such research programs and not leave the matter entirely to the cell-phone industry” due to his concern that “The wireless industry has had nearly free reign to develop and distribute cellular mobile phones and related RF devices as they see fit.”
Dr. Lin was one of fourteen experts convened by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to review the National Toxicology Program’s cell phone radiation study in March of this year. He is a professor of electrical engineering, bioengineering, physiology, and biophysics at the University of Illinois, Chicago. His publications include ten books, hundreds of papers and book chapters, and he has made hundreds of presentations at professional conferences. He has served on the editorial board of fifteen professional journals and has received numerous awards and honors throughout his distinguished career.
Following are key passages from Dr. Lin’s paper (1):
“On 28 March 2018, following a thorough review of the draft NTP reports, pathologists and toxicologists on the peer-review panel concluded that, among other observations, there was statistically significant and “clear evidence” that both GSM- and CDMA-modulated RF radiation had led to the development of malignant schwannoma (a rare form of tumor) in the heart of male rats (of the Harlan-Sprague-Dawley strain). Further, there was “equivocal evidence” for the same schwannoma risk among female rats.
The panel also noted that there were unusual patterns of cardiomyopathy, or damage to heart tissue, in both RF-exposed male and female rats when compared with concurrent control animals. In addition, based on statistical significance, the panel concluded that the pathology findings showed indications of “some evidence” for RF-dependent carcinogenic activity in the brain of male rats, specifically glioma. However, the findings for female rats were deemed as providing only “equivocal evidence” for malignant gliomas when compared with concurrent controls.” (pp. 16-17)
“The NTP cell-phone RF exposure study is, by far, the largest study of its kind . It was expensive and time consuming, and there may even have been better ways to perform the study. Nevertheless, it highlights that prolonged exposure to RF radiation at, or a little above, currently existing RF exposure regulation levels could lead to tumor development. The current RF exposure guidelines of 1.6 or 2.0 W/kg are promulgated with a reduction factor of 50 as a safety margin for the general public and to provide protection against presumed hazardous biological effects in humans , . The finding that RF exposure could lead to dose-dependent cancer development at levels that are the same or three times above current exposure guidelines is significant.
This implies that the safety margin may be no more than a factor of three. In fact, one recommendation (IEEE C95.1-2005) has a set of guidelines under controlled environments that allows local SARs of the brain and heart to be as much as 10 W/kg . An SAR of 10 W/kg is considerably higher than the 1.5, 3.0, and 6.0 W/kg used in the NTP study.” “Because all tissue and organs were similarly exposed and had comparable SARs, it is important for the NTP team to perform a statistical comparison of total primary malignancies in all tissue and organs observed in RF-exposed and concurrent control rats before issuing its final report. Given that hyperplasia (the enlargement of tissue or organs caused by an increased rate of cell growth in the initial stage of cancer development) often leads to neoplasm, the statistical analysis should also include findings of hyperplasia.” (p. 18)
“The FDA should be applauded for initiating and the NIEHS/NTP praised for having sponsored the research and conducted the cell-phone RF radiation studies. It’s important for the U.S. government to step in and conduct such research programs and not leave the matter entirely to the cell-phone industry. The wireless industry has had nearly free reign to develop and distribute cellular mobile phones and related RF devices as they see fit. The completion of this NTP study should not signify the end of the U.S. government’s role in supporting RF biological effects research because we continue to be exposed to more RF radiation every day , .” (p. 20)
“Malignant schwannoma in rat hearts were the most salient findings from the NTP RF bioassay. Acoustic schwannomas in human brains and malignant schwannomas in rat hearts were independently observed from two different body tissues in humans and rats. There could actually be a link between Schwann cells that wrap around both nerve tissues in the heart and along the auditory nervous system.” (p. 22)
“Because all tissue and organs were similarly exposed and had comparable SARs, it is important for the NTP team to perform a statistical comparison of total primary malignancies in all tissue and organs observed in RF-exposed and concurrent control rats before issuing its final report. Given that hyperplasia (the enlargement of tissue or organs caused by an increased rate of cell growth in the initial stage of cancer development) often leads to neoplasm, the statistical analysis should also include findings of hyperplasia.” (p. 22)
[Note: I provided similar suggestions for analysis of the data in my critique of the NTP study. (3)]
“Now that the NTP review panel has concluded there is clear evidence of carcinogenicity from long-term RF exposure in rats, is it conceivable that the IARC would upgrade its epidemiology-based classification of RF exposure to the next level of carcinogenicity to humans?
As noted earlier, the existing RF exposure guidelines of 1.6 or 2.0 W/kg are promulgated with a reduction factor of 50, as a safety margin for the general public. The finding that long-term RF exposure could lead to cancer development in rats at levels that are the same as or no greater than a factor of three above these exposure guidelines is significant.
While complacencies abound for short-term exposure guidelines in terms of providing safety protection, an outstanding question persists concerning the adequacy of these guidelines for safe, long-term exposure to RF radiation at or below 1.6 or 2.0 W/kg. Perhaps the time has come to judiciously reassess, revise, and update these guidelines." (pp. 22-23)
(1) Lin JC. Clear evidence of cell-phone RF radiation cancer risk. IEEE Microwave Magazine. 19(6):16-24. Sep/Oct 2018. DOI: 10.1109/MMM.2018.2844058. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8425056/
(2) Lin JC. The NTP cell phone RF radiation health effects project. IEEE Microwave Magazine. 18(1): 15-17. Jan/Feb 2017. DOI: 10.1109/MMM.2016.2616239. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7779288/
(3) Moskowitz JM. Comments about the NTP cell phone radiation studies. School of Public Health, UC Berkeley. Submitted to the National Toxicology Program, Mar 12, 2018. http://bit.ly/NTPcommentsJMM180312