Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

31 May 2015

Reflections on the Use of Wireless Technology

Reflections on the Use of Wireless Technology
by Meris Michaels, 7 April 2013, re-posted 31 May 2015

With cell phones and wireless technology, we are probably where our relationship with tobacco was 50 years ago.

Look at this brief history of the tobacco industry:

- 1964 - Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health links smoking and lung cancer and other diseases.  (Note that this is the first official announcement of a link between smoking and lung cancer in the United States.  In 1956, the British Medical Journal published the results of a British doctors study started in 1951 that gave irrefutable evidence that tobacco smoking increased the risk of lung cancer.)
- 1965 – first warning labels placed on cigarette packs
- 1971 – tobacco ads banned on TV
- 1986 – Surgeon General reports on dangers of secondhand smoke – ban of smoking in public places begins
- 1998 – an agreement forces the tobacco industry to acknowledge the harm it has done
- 2009 – through the Family Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authority to regulate manufacturing and sale of tobacco products.

But the tobacco industry does not give up. In 2008, it spent $10 billion on marketing cigarettes in the United States, targeting especially African Americans and low-income groups.

So, where are we with wireless technology? The U.S. health authorities have not yet recognized the link between cancer and other diseases and electromagnetic radiation EMR) emitted by wireless technology. Once again, we are not learning the lessons from the tobacco scourge in terms of high health costs and human suffering.

We need an aggressive public health effort to warn of health risks from wireless technology and suggest cautionary measures to take in using this technology. This could be achieved through:

- using the social media,
- “viral” videos,
- graphic images such as showing the incisions of young persons following brain tumor operations,
- advocating for safer use through labeling and laws,
- limiting or banning sales and advertising of this technology to young children,
- opting for wired access to the Internet in schools,
- using high profile persons to pass the message,
- devoting more media attention to testimonies of electrohypersensitive (EHS) persons,
- using youth as role models,
- going into schools to educate students about safer wireless use.

 Examples to follow are the Head of Belgacom, Belgium’s largest telecoms operator, going into schools to warn children of the risks of excessive cell phone use, the former Microsoft Director of Canada, Frank Clegg, setting up an advocacy group for safer use of wireless, Sheryl Crow saying publicly her brain tumor probably came from cell phone use, Innocente Marcolini’s testimony before the European Parliament. (Marcolini had used his cell phone for 5 to 6 hours a day over at least 12 years in his work and was granted compensation by the Italian Supreme Court, which linked this extensive use to the benign brain tumor which partially paralyzed him.)

We need team science not only at national but at international level. One example is the European Cancer Environment Research Institute ECERI) established in Brussels by Professor Dominique Belpomme (expert in the physiological effects of EMR), which unites European research teams and even links to international teams. (In the case of EMR: Dr. Lennart Hardell and Prof. Olle Johansson.)

Doctors and medical associations have a particular responsibility to learn how to diagnose and treat health problems relating to EMR exposure and suggest to patients ways of protecting themselves.

“We owe our children more protection”. “We must act now”. We can’t wait for establishment of a cause and effect relationship” There is plenty of proof already published in scientific journals. We must not wait until people sicken and die.

We as individuals must act to protect ourselves and especially, our children, by reducing EMR exposure at home and advocate for reduction in schools and the workplace.

Industry is already aware of the health risks. We need industry to admit this more openly. Warnings of health risks and safer use exist in manuals but must be visibly printed on packages selling wireless devices.

The obstacles are huge – cell phones and wireless technologies and applications are becoming more and more useful in businesses and favored by consumers.

Like cigarettes, cell phone and Internet use and videogames can be highly addictive. There are now “Addictology” Departments in hospitals. “Internet addiction” is an affliction included in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases, specifically, in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) listing mental and behavioral disorders. My own family doctor has commented that she’s seeing more and more persons addicted to this technology and to video games, even to the extent of ruining marriages. But she hasn’t a clue about other physiological health risks related to excessive Internet use, mostly accessed these days through wireless devices, and here is where it is advocates’ responsibility to educate health professionals and medical associations and even consumer groups. There is a problem, though, of patient’s resenting being warned of risks by their doctor, being told that their favorite “toys” may be lethal weapons.

“Shock campaigns” – disturbing images – may not be a solution. One advocacy group’s brochure was so disturbing (showing a man putting a cell phone to his head like a gun) that it ended up mostly in the waste can. People reading about risks were too shocked to absorb the information because, they said, they were never told this technology could carry health risks. This is of course not true – it is in the manuals. There is a reason for manufacturers telling consumers to keep cell phones a certain distance away from the head and body. But no one reads the fine print.

Just like tobacco, the industry is, in a sense, making wireless products more addictive by offering new and better features and devices, all kinds of applications which are part of a person’s daily life, and many medical applications. People are now purchasing public transport tickets and paying at supermarket counters with their cell phones. Operators are creating wireless environments, including in public transport, where one can access info 24/7 any time, any place.

There is the power of marketing, the pressure of social norms … To succeed in today's world, you must be proficient in the use of wireless gadgets from the time you are a small child ...

One of the worst aspects of all this is handing a baby a cell phone. We are creating an addiction to this technology and worse, seriously harming our children’s health.

The difficulty is that you can’t see, smell or feel EMR. It is invisible, yet, from one day to the next, you can become electrohypersensitive, as many persons with this sensitivity have testified, and then, suffer in every aspect of daily life. With frequent, daily use over many years, you could end up with a malignant brain tumor. The total time spent talking on a cell phone per day (without a headset) should be 20 minutes. How many of us have seen or heard a person talking for over half an hour during just one call?

Despite the courageous efforts of the many advocacy groups, it is going to be a very long and difficult fight to raise public awareness for safer use, and in the meantime, many people will needlessly suffer and die. This will add significantly to the already enormous costs of health care and lost productivity.

What do you choose to do?  You are also responsible for creating a major health catastrophe such as we are seeing today with tobacco.  Maybe even worse.

(Ref. “A World without Cancer”, by Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo – who in her book lists cell phone use as a major environmental factor causing cancer. She has had intimate experience with the disease, working as a radiologist in the out-patient mammography division of a leading teaching hospital. She is the sister of Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York State. Reading her book generated reflection for this essay.)

by Meris Michaels


  1. There is an minor error in this article."The European Cancer Environment Institute" is actually The European Cancer and Environment Research Institute".It is not very accurate to say that the association of tobacco smoking with cancer was known only since 1964.

    The British Doctors Study which started in 1951 and concluded in 2001 is well known.IN 1956, the study gave irrefutable evidence that tobacco smoking increased the risk of lung cancer. It was published in the British Medical Journal (1956)

    The most elaborate study of brain tumor risk and cell phone use thus far is the Interphone study. This 13 country study supported by the WHO concluded thus:

    "Overall, no increase in risk of glioma or meningioma was observed with use of mobile phones. There were suggestions of an increased
    risk of glioma at the highest exposure levels, but biases and error prevent a causal interpretation.

    The IARC/WHO labeled cell phone radiation as a Group 2B carcinogen in 2011 mainly based on the Interphone study and the studies by Dr. Lennart Hardell and his group. Later, three studies have indicated that the Lennart studies have serious deficiencies. In 2011, WHO itself reiterated its stand thus:
    "A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use".

    Yes, we must continue research in this important area.There could be some risk. But the evidence thus far shows that the risk, if any,is likely to be small. It is equally prudent to convince children that it is not very "cool" to use cell phone.Never give a cell phone as a birthday present to your child.

    The possible effects of long-term
    heavy use of mobile phones require further investigation.IN the case of brain tumor and cell phone radiation after 15 years of study, there is a suggestion that brain tumor induction and cell phone use may be linked in the case of users of

    1. Your balanced view is appreciated and a few corrections to the text have been made. I do not fully agree, however, that "no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use." Look around. A lot of persons are sick from using this technology, but proof of a link has yet to be established - and especially, accepted by the scientific community. Further investigation is certainly needed, as you say.

      And thank you for reiterating that we should encourage children not to use cell phones and never give one as a present to your child.


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