Myth 15: It’s proven that cell phones cause cancer.

Dr. Lennart Hardell of Department of Oncology at the Örebro Medical Centre in Sweden conducted a study in which he reports to have found that long term cell phone use doubles the risk of malignant brain tumors and hearing nerve tumors. He also reported that people under 20 years of age were five times more likely to develop brain cancer from cell phone use. This study has received much hysterical publicity, but, and this is a big but, it has not yet appeared in a peer-reviewed journal. Until it does, it has the same amount of scientfic credibility as you telling your child “if you make a face it will stay that way”

On September 25th, a US House of Congress on Domestic Policy listened to the testimonials of scientists regarding whether or not cell phone use causes brain tumors. Here is how the facts shake down:

Ronald Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute said “I cannot tell this committee that cell phones are definitely dangerous. But, I certainly cannot tell you that they are safe.”

David Carpenter, director of Institute for Health and the Environment at University of Albany said, “Recent studies, primarily from Scandinavia [referring to Hardell’s study above], where cell phones were first developed and manufactured, and where there has been longer use as compared to the United States, are finding significant increases in brain cancer among individuals who have used a cell phone for more than 10 years.”

Dr Robert Hoover, director or Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program at the National Cancer Institute, referring to the Hardell study and others said, “There is a fair amount of inconsistency within and between these studies.” He determined that there was not enough research to draw any conclusions.

Herberman and Carpenter agreed that if there is a risk it would be greater for children as the radiation would be able to penetrate further into a child’s brain than an adult’s brain. They temper this conclusion by pointing out that even though children’s brains would be more susceptible to the malignant effects of cell phone radiation there has been no signficant increase in brain cancer in children in the past 25 years.

Herberman and Carpenter’s conclusions included a call for more research in this area and a caution for people to limit direct contact with a cell phone, just in case. For adults, they recommend the using a headset, which you probably should anyway or the next the House subcommittee will be meet to determine if cradling your cell phone with your shoulder is the cause of the Great Kink-In-The-Neck Epidemic of 2008.

2 Responses

  1. My friend on Facebook shared this link with me and I’m not dissapointed at all that I came here.

  2. Heberman works at my institution. I am so embarrassed. One of the recommendations he had was to turn your cell around in your pocket so your body wouldn’t be between it and the cell tower…
    All they have are a bunch of retrospective “gosh, I guess I did hold my cell phone up to the side of my head where they found the brain tumor more often” studies.

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