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"It's not a tumor!"
Top British researcher says cell phones more harmful than asbestos or cigarette smoke

Dr. Vini Khurana, a top British neurosurgeon and medical researcher, is trying ardently to grab people's attention about what he sees as a grave risk to health.  He has published over 30 papers; his specialty -- cell phones and their links to disease.  He has reviewed over 100 papers on the links between cell phones and cancer.  His latest research, currently under peer-review prior to journal publication, emphasizes a strong link between cell phones and tumors.

Not one to shirk from using strong language on the topic, Dr. Khurana states controversially, "Mobile phones could have health consequences far greater than asbestos and smoking."

The number of users is the first aspect to look at, says Dr. Khurana.  Over 3 billion people worldwide use a cell phone, according to Dr. Khurana.  Only about one billion people worldwide smoke, evidence to his claims.  The smoking population incurs approximately five million worldwide smoking related deaths a year. 

The doctor expresses no uncertainty about whether cell phones cause cancer.  He states emphatically, "there is a significant and increasing body of evidence for a link between mobile phone usage and certain brain tumors."

Government action is a necessity says Dr. Khurana, but he declines to elaborate on possible measures.  The cell phone industry meanwhile scoffs at the research.  Britain's Mobile Operators Association, a major telecomm collective commented that the new study was "a selective discussion of scientific literature by one individual."

In the U.S. last September, a research study by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme indicated that there was no cell phone-cancer link.  However, the normally conservative National Academy of Sciences reporting at the bequest of the Food and Drug Administration ruled that there was a possible link, but more research was needed.  The National Academy of Sciences suggested studies on the effects of use on children and pregnant women and a comparative study of heavy users and the general population. 

In February, DailyTech reported in a study appearing in a U.S. medical journal, which indicated that heavy cell phone use raised the risk of some tumors as much as 50 percent.  Cancers of the salivary gland in particular were found to be the most commonly induced type.  This study differed in that it looked at the effects of long term use.  Also it was among the first studies to examine cancer rates in other organs besides the brain.

Many doctors have expressed concern since the 1980s, when cell phones came into widespread use, that the electromagnetic radiation from the cell phone transmissions might increase mutation rates, upping individuals' cancer risk.  With evidence mildly supporting such conclusions mounting, similar concerns have recently been voiced about Wi-Fi.  Sir William Stewart, chairman of Britain's Health Protection Agency, demanded a thorough investigation of possible cancer/Wi-Fi correlations, based on the fact that Wi-Fi exposure to electromagnetic fields is often even more prolific than that from cell phones.  Allegedly, some people are sensitive enough to Wi-Fi that it causes them headaches.  The Austrian Medical Association is lobbying for a countrywide ban on Wi-Fi.

The new research from Dr. Khurana also follows in the conclusions of other European studies.  A study in Finland found that cell phone users of 10 years or more were 40 percent more likely to get a brain tumor on the side of the head they usually hold their phone.  A follow up study in Sweden indicate this risk to be closer to four times as great.

Cell phone use is currently banned on planes due to interference dangers, however, most analysts agree that a national level ban in any industrialized nation is impractical.

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By MateaMatt on 3/31/2008 8:22:08 PM , Rating: 4
I don't understand how cellphones would cause cancer, as they do not produce ionizing radiation.

RE: Mechanism?
By BucDan on 3/31/08, Rating: -1
RE: Mechanism?
By Complex Pants on 3/31/2008 9:03:26 PM , Rating: 3
Tumors are caused by mutations in DNA. DNA mutations can be caused from many sources from high energy radiation (ionizing radiation, UV light, X rays, etc) or even from your body making a mistake while copying DNA during cell reproduction (mitosis).

A tumor is just a cluster of cells that are growing in an unregulated fashion. In fact in the case of brain tumors, they are not even malignant. However, the problem is that a growing mass in an enclosed space, such as your skull, is a problem. This is one reason why these tumors are so deadly.

I believe you are talking about lead poisoning, which deals more with mental illnesses not tumors. In the case of cell phones, they do not produce much high energy radiation and much of it should be absorbed by your skull. However, over time, some radiation could reach brain cells and potentially harm them. It is essentially playing a lottery. Of course if you play enough you might win, but the chances are still very very low.

We are bathed, every day by electromagnetic radiation (light) and we don't develop cancer/tumors commonly. Skin cancer can happen, but only if you are fair skinned and outside constantly. Your TV, microwave, radio, Wi-Fi, light bulbs, alarm clocks, Remote controls, keyless entry on your car, all emit radiation, yet still very few of us develop cancer from these sources. I think the research should be done, but as of now, I feel quite safe using a cell phone.

RE: Mechanism?
By masher2 on 3/31/2008 9:20:32 PM , Rating: 3
> "We are bathed, every day by electromagnetic radiation (light) and we don't develop cancer/tumors commonly"

Even more to the point, people who work in or near radio towers -- which emit signals millions of times more powerful than the milliwatts put out by your average cell phone -- don't have cancer rates higher than the average population.

RE: Mechanism?
By ikkeman on 3/31/2008 9:59:20 PM , Rating: 2
actuaaly, High UV exposure (excessice sunbathing) is recognized as the major cause of skin cancer...

Also, EM radiation strengt reduces by you distance to the source cubed... That means if you're 100 times farther removed from the source, the signal strength dimishes ba a factor of one million. Lets say you hold your phone 1cm (or 1") away from your brain - the tower would only need to be 1m (or 8'4") away to generate equal power.

RE: Mechanism?
By masher2 on 3/31/2008 10:14:42 PM , Rating: 3
> "actuaaly, High UV exposure (excessice sunbathing) is recognized as the major cause of skin cancer..."

UV is ionizing radiation. There's no question that it can cause cancer...UVC energies run over 10 eV/photon, not that far below soft X-rays. Cell phones, though, operate below 1 Ghz, a band with a frequency hundreds of millions times lower...meaning photon energies lower by the same order of magnitude.

> "Also, EM radiation strengt reduces by you distance to the source cubed"

Eh? EM radiation follows an inverse square law, not an inverse cube. Your calculations are far off.

RE: Mechanism?
By ikkeman on 4/1/2008 2:48:42 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry for assuming EM radiation radiates in 3 dimendions. If you're right the distance to experiance similar levels of radiation from a source a million times stringer would be a 1000 factor instead of 100 - 10m vs 1m.

Not so big a difference I think

I don't know about the link between ionizing capacity of radiation and cancer, but there are other health problems than only cancer.
You should see what can be done using an localized magnetic field on the brain (google TMS with Dystonia).
You can litterally induce movement in a specific bodypart throught the application of a magnetic field on the brain. That shows low energy radiation can definately impact your body.

RE: Mechanism?
By masher2 on 4/1/2008 3:12:08 PM , Rating: 3
> "Sorry for assuming EM radiation radiates in 3 dimendions"

Of course it radiates in 3 dimensions. But radiative flux follows an inverse square law because the surface area of that three-dimensional sphere which contains the wavefront grows as the square of the radius. Make sense?

> "Not so big a difference I think"

In your calculations, you assumed a distance 100X greater, which you then calculated as a signal one million times weaker. The true value is actually 10K times weaker...a large difference indeed. And, when you're talking about a signal strength of 100,000 watts versus a few milliwatts, a much stronger effect on the human body.

> "That shows low energy radiation can definately impact your body. "

Low energy radiation? First of all, its not radiation at all-- its a magnetic field. Second of all, its not low energy. TMS uses magnetic fields typically in the 25,000 gauss range. For comparison, the earth's magnetic field runs about half a gauss.

RE: Mechanism?
By MrPoletski on 3/31/2008 11:36:01 PM , Rating: 2
"We are bathed, every day by electromagnetic radiation (light) and we don't develop cancer/tumors commonly."

What do you think those brown spots all over your skin are? Those moles are tumours, albeit harmless ones (unless you're REALLY vain)

RE: Mechanism?
By masher2 on 4/1/2008 12:32:22 AM , Rating: 3
> "What do you think those brown spots all over your skin are? Those moles are tumours,"

No. Sun-induced freckles are simply accumulations of pigment. The larger, more predominant patches known as "lentigines" are simply local proliferations of melanocytes. Neither are tumors...they're essentially no more than an irregular form of tanning.

While it is true that UV can and does cause both sink damage and skin cancers, the vast majority of sun-induced spotting is not a form of cancer, benign or not.

RE: Mechanism?
By nomentanus on 4/1/2008 7:17:24 PM , Rating: 2
"We are bathed, every day by electromagnetic radiation (light) and we don't develop cancer/tumors commonly."

Where have you been? Most breast cancer is linked to excess exposure to visible light and the only cancer that looks like it doesn't have this correlation is lung cancer. Our whole hormone system gets whacked by too much light at night. See

RE: Mechanism?
By MrPoletski on 3/31/2008 11:33:26 PM , Rating: 1
They produce microwaves. Microwaves are small and energetic enough to cause an atom (which is a dipole - think bar magnet) to spin and align with the electric field. This is how a microwave oven warms things up. Unfortunately, this inducing of energy into the atoms can cause some chemical compounds to break down.

It is when the chemical compounds that are in DNA are broken down that mutations *can* occur. But it should be mentioned that DNA is an unstable molecule and breaks down by itself anyway. In fact, a significant portion of a cell has the sole purpose of constantly repairing the DNA inside of it.

So whether the added degredation of the microwave emissions is at all significant compared to the DNA's normal rate of decay is 'the question' because if it is not, then microwaves are not worth worrying about in terms of cancer.

headaches from microwaves I can only assume would be attributed to mild heating of areas of your brain. It only takes a small temperature variation in your head to cause you bad headaches. Try eating ice cream, you get the brain freeze headache because the 'sensor' used to regulate body temperature is just above the roof of your mouth. Cool that down and the body heats itself up, mistakenly, to compensate and you get a headache.

RE: Mechanism?
By masher2 on 4/1/2008 11:13:59 AM , Rating: 3
> "Unfortunately, this inducing of energy into the atoms can cause some chemical compounds to break down."

If the radiation is non-ionizing (which cell phone frequencies are), then this breakdown only occurs by absorbing enough energy to raise temperatures dangerously.

Now, how much energy does your brain absorb from a cell phone signal? The average phone emits about 1/4 watt. The human head subtends at most a 180 degree angle, and will absorb much less than half of the signal passing through it. That works out to (generously) about 1/16 of a watt absorbed. Compared to the 40+ watts of heat energy the brain itself generates, one easily sees that a cell phone isn't significantly raising the temperature of brain tissue.

The frequencies used by cell phones are no different than radio fact, the frequencies below cell phones (the 30-300mhz VHF band used by TV) are absorbed much better by the human body, and produce more heating per watt of energy.

The IEEE sets a safety limit for RF heating at 4 watts/kg of body tissue. For cell phones, an even more stringent limit of 1.6 w/kg is set...and most handheld cell phone are well below this extremely pessimistic safety limit.

RE: Mechanism?
By geddarkstorm on 4/1/2008 12:37:03 PM , Rating: 3 here is one of the first research papers showing how UV damages DNA. The spectrum is very narrow, as it is only a small range (285–350 nm) where thymine can absorb photons to create a dimer that results in mutations. At higher energies (smaller wavelengths, like X-rays), damage to DNA begins to become indirect, via the formation of reactive oxygen species which can oxidize DNA bases leading to mispairing, or even lesions where bases are removed from the DNA backbone.

Microwaves are very low energy (~10-11 orders of magnitude less than visible light) and very long wavelengths (centimeters long instead of nanometers). They are way too low energetically to create ions (which start at UV energies and above). It just so happens that water has a quantum dipole resonance frequency in the microwave gigahertz range that causes it to absorb those photons into kinetic motion, but DNA does not (nor do many other dipolar molecules). This kinetic motion only creates heat, it isn't kicking around electrons, so it can't ionize anything.

It seems very unlikely that cell phones have anything to do with cancer in a causal way, but may be correlated, that is those who use cell phones may also do other activities that raise cancer rates. If the article is right and 1/2 of the world's population uses cell phones, then it seems safe to say they do not appreciably change cancer rates as we haven't seen a sudden increase of millions coming down with brain tumors (which would only be a 1-3% increase in cancer rates).

RE: Mechanism?
By flipsu5 on 4/6/2008 5:52:52 AM , Rating: 2
If the radiation wavelength is small enough to be ionizing, it will knock off electrons from atoms or raise them from the valence band to the conduction band, and these roaming electrons will lose energy gradually through heating and chemical damage, until their recombination.

Even if the wavelength is not that small, if there is a chance that two (or more) photons are simultaneously absorbed, their total energy can have the same effect. The chance for this to happen is very low. You need to have sufficient exposure time, plus sufficient exposure intensity. There is always a small chance of enough microwave photon absorption to produce a direct chemical effect but it is negligible in realistic situations.

The other way radiation can have direct effects is not absorption but directly oscillating the free charges that are around. In the human body, there are lots of ions (such as H+) which can be vibrated by cell phone radiation. If they are suddenly vibrated at GHz en masse, that may disrupt the local electrochemistry. The vibrations can also lead to local heating which could influence the chemical reaction rates.

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