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Do Cell phones cause Brain Cancer?

This complicated issue is hotly debated using studies both pro and con. A new document produced by the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control • California Department of Public Health states

Several studies have found that people with certain kinds of brain cancer were more likely to have used cell phones for 10 years or more. Most of the cancers were on the same side of the head that people usually held their phones. Although the chance of developing brain cancer is very small, these studies suggest that regular cell phone use increases the risk of developing some kinds of brain cancer. Some studies have also linked exposure to EMFs from cell phones to fertility problems.

The document was produced in 2015 and was not distributed. In a lawsuit filed by Joel Moskowitz, Ph.D., director of the Center for Family and Community Health at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, the State of California was forced to release the document.

A simple primer on EMF radiation. EMF’s are created by different types of electronic devices. Some devices, such as watches, create weak EMFs that are considered harmless. Others, like X-ray machines, generate very strong EMFs that can damage cells and tissues, and cause cancer, and we try to only use X-rays when necessary. Cell phones emit weaker EMFs, somewhat less than those from microwave ovens. New devices being installed are being blamed for causing more sickness, i.e., smart electric meters, smart heater registers, etc. People living in proximity to cell phone towers have complained about increased sickness but scientifically has not been proven as the source of their increased problems.

The problem with cell phone use, according to the newly released document

Cell phones make relatively weak EMFs, somewhat less than those from microwave ovens, but because they are used frequently and kept close to the head and body, cell phone EMF’s can effect nearby cells and tissue.

Keith Black, MD, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and Director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurological Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, stated the following in a May 31, 2011, interview

So, essentially, a cell phone is a microwave antenna which generates microwave radiation. And we know that microwave radiation can penetrate into the brain when you hold the cell phone next to your ear. In fact, it’s related to the square of the distance. So, the closer, you get a much, much greater amount of radiation going into the brain.

That radiation and energy, when it hits biological tissues, there is some concern that it may actually cause cells, over a long-term time period, to transform from normal cells into cancer cells. So, what we don’t know currently is whether cell phone use is safe, and we don’t know that it is unsafe. The problem that we have is that about half of the studies have shown that there is no correlation to brain cancer and cell phone use, and half of the studies that have been done have shown a correlation.

The problem we have is that we know that most environmental agents that cause cancer don’t cause cancer after a month or a year or two years of exposure. The best example I can give to illustrate this is that, if one was to start smoking cigarettes when they were 12, we don’t expect them to develop lung cancer when they’re 22. We expect them to develop lung cancer when they’re 42 or 52, three or four decades of exposure.

The World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monograph Working Group, stated the following in its June 22, 2011, publication “Carcinogenicity of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields,” published in the Lancet Oncology:

In May, 2011, 30 scientists from 14 countries [the Working Group] met at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, to assess the carcinogenicity of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields.

The Working Group reviewed many studies with endpoints relevant to mechanisms of carcinogenesis, including genotoxicity, effects on immune function, gene and protein expression, cell signaling, oxidative stress, and apoptosis. Studies of the possible effects of RF-EMF on the blood-brain barrier and on a variety of effects in the brain were also considered. Although there was evidence of an effect of RF-EMF on some of these endpoints, the Working Group reached the overall conclusion that these results provided only weak mechanistic evidence relevant to RF-EMF induced cancer in humans.

In view of the limited evidence in humans and in experimental animals, the Working Group classified RF-EMF as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ (Group 2B). This evaluation was supported by a large majority of Working Group members.

A member of the IARC group, Ronald L. Melnick, Ph.D., former Senior Toxicologist and Director of Special Programs in the Environmental Toxicology Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, stated the following in his Sep. 28, 2016 article “More on How Cellphones Are Linked to Brain Cancer,”

At that time we classified cellphone radiation as possibly carcinogenic to humans based on positive associations that had been observed between cellphone radiation and malignant brain tumors and tumors of Schwann cells that surround the auditory nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain (acoustic neuroma).

More recent evidence on health effects of cellphone radiation has strengthened the case for concluding that this radiation poses a cancer risk. The U.S. National Toxicology Program recently reported results from a study in which rats and mice were exposed to cellphone RFR for two years at exposure intensities in the range of cellphone emissions and that did not cause measurable increases in body temperature. The findings of highly malignant and quite rare brain tumors and malignant Schwann cell tumors of the heart in the NTP study present a major public health concern because some of these same types of tumors had been reported in epidemiological studies of adult cellphone users. In addition the NTP reported DNA damage was induced in brain cells of exposed animals.

While the debate goes on, frequent cell phone users can do the following, according to the California Health document

Increase the distance between you and your phone by:

Using the speaker phone. – Send text messages. – Use a headset and carry your phone away from your body. EMFs from wireless (Bluetooth) and wired headsets are usually weaker than those from a cell phone. – Keep your phone away from your body at home, a cell phone that is on can emit EMFs even when it is not being used. – Do not sleep with your cell phone near you. – Limit your cell phone use when reception is weak or increase the distance between you and the phone. – When your phone shows only one or two bars, reduce the amount of time spent talking on a cell phone. – Keep cell phone calls short, even when using a wireless or wired headset. – Use the speaker phone mode or a corded phone for longer conversations. Corded phones produce very weak EMFs. Wireless and wired headsets emit EMFs even when you are not using your phone. – Do not rely on devices that claim to shield or neutralize EMFs from cell phones. These devices have not been shown to reduce exposures.

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