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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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RE: scary facts
By masher2 (blog) on 3/31/2008 8:28:23 PM , Rating: 4
> "What we need is a completely objective body not funded by the cell corporations or an anti-cell phone lobby to do research.."

You mean like the WHO (World Health Organization)? Their studied opinion is that no evidence suggests any link between cell phones and cancer.

I'd also like to point out that Dr. Khurana is a surgeon, not an epidemiologist, oncologist, or even a statistician. As such, he's not especially qualified to comment on such research. I certainly wouldn't take his opinion over an expert in the field.


RE: scary facts
By TALENT on 3/31/08, Rating: -1
RE: scary facts
By Ringold on 3/31/2008 11:12:38 PM , Rating: 3
That comment would make sense if his comment were only of his own opinion. Instead, he was simplying relaying the 'studied opinion' of the WHO.

You shot at the messenger. :)

There's enough loonies running around that I'm happy to hear what research says over time beyond just the WHO (they could be right, I don't know), but just pointing it out. Masher didn't ask you to believe him, simply offered someone elses opinion up.


RE: scary facts
By Lord 666 on 3/31/2008 11:41:51 PM , Rating: 5
The same WHO that censored the impact of Chernobyl's health impact and mortality?

Please remember that Christopher Columbus was not a geographer, Thomas Edison never went to school, and Anand Lal Shimpi started something big when he was 15.


RE: scary facts
By masher2 (blog) on 4/1/2008 12:19:58 AM , Rating: 3
> "The same WHO that censored the impact of Chernobyl's health impact and mortality?"

Stuff and nonsense. If anything, the linear exposure model used by the WHO slightly overestimates the results of Chernobyl's effects. The WHO simply refused to bow to the demands of anti-nuclear activists, who wished to portray the event as far more deadly than it actually was.

> "Please remember that Christopher Columbus was not a geographer..."

Columbus also thought the experts were wrong, and that the world was only 1/4 the diameter it actually was....which is why he thought he'd reached the Indies when he landed in America.

> "...and Anand Lal Shimpi started something big when he was 15"

And this proves cell phones cause cancer?


RE: scary facts
By slunkius on 4/1/2008 1:55:21 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The WHO simply refused to bow to the demands of anti-nuclear activists, who wished to portray the event as far more deadly than it actually was.


it's a real pitty you were not living in a soviet union in the time of the event. i'm sure you would have volunteered to disaster management squad, you know, those guys who went there to fix the mess.


RE: scary facts
By MeTaedet on 4/1/2008 1:10:54 AM , Rating: 2
Who up-voted that? Really now...

quote:
Please remember that Christopher Columbus was not a geographer, Thomas Edison never went to school, and Anand Lal Shimpi started something big when he was 15.


I am so very tired of seeing this fallacy on Daily Tech. I've already seen it some 20 times or so.

Do the following phrases mean anything to you?

Availability heuristic
Spotlight fallacy
Accident
Misleading vividness
Thought terminating cliche
Proof by example
Cherry picking
Fallacy of insufficient sample

And there was an appeal to novelty earlier.

I do wonder how many more people than those three you cited have made claims out of their depth and beyond their area of study and been wrong?

Masher never said that he was necessarily wrong because we wasn't an epidemiologist or oncologist, only that he wasn't as trustworthy a source as he might otherwise be. In the absence of any information or understanding upon which to predicate a truth-value statement about one notion or another of opposite purport, one is often left to do no more scientifically rigorous than to trust what another, hopefully credible person, says. After all, one can't gain a perfect grasp of all fields of science. Therefore, given the choice to believe what one of two men says, each saying the opposite, it is sensible to choose to believe what he says who be formally trained in the field most relevant to the matter in question. Taking a brain surgeon at his word that cell phones cause brain cancer over the word of oncologists et al. who say they don't isn't particularly sagacious, unless we have reason to suspect mendacity or deceit on the part of the latter group for some reason.


RE: scary facts
By Lord 666 on 4/1/2008 11:58:02 AM , Rating: 2
Greed would be the reason for deceit and there is a ton of change to loose if there is a correlation.

Case in point, the pharmaceutical industry. You can cherry pick examples of pulled drugs or ones that have later proved less effective after approval (Rezulin, Avandia, Vytorin, or Prozac) but the one that really comes to mind is Vioxx. There was evidence that Merck was aware of the issues prior to releasing along with the FDA. It passed many subject matter experts (Merck, independant studies, and FDA), but only after a off-label research study using Vioxx to treat colon cancer exposed detrimental circulatory effects.

An IT example of this is Windows Home Server... I was even a beta tester for this product. How did "experts" miss the file corruption issue, should we question the Q/A methods, manufacturer, or beta testers? It was only the end users who unfortunately found the problem after their files were corrupted (did not include me)

Experts can sometimes suffer from tunnel visioned or for malicious resons such as greed ignore conflicting evidence. Either way, the truth is out there for someone to find.


RE: scary facts
By blowfish on 4/1/2008 12:04:12 AM , Rating: 2
but any prudent parent, learning the results of the studies in question might sensibly think twice about having their children use cell phones. There's a resonance effect with the radiation, so that the energy penetrates disproportionately further into a child's brain than an adult's.

I have no doubt whatsoever that the telcom lobby in the US will succeed in preventing any actions likely to reduce their profits.

Just look at the number of states that allow drivers to use non hands-free cell phones whilst driving - something that puts you at the same level of risk of having an accident as driving with a blood alcohol level of around 100mg/l.

Looking on the positive side, maybe it's just free market economics, and natural selection in action. It may certainly prove to be a bonanza for the biggest growth industry in the US - "health" care.


RE: scary facts
By Lord 666 on 4/1/2008 12:13:28 AM , Rating: 2
What long term effects have been studied with hearing loss and use of hands free earpieces? There is research that negates any difference between hands free vs. holding the phone. Its the cognitive effort that impacts the driving regardless.

Either the same study or related one demonstrated that talking with another passenger in the car is not the same as cellphone use because the passenger self-regulates speech based on the driver's need to focus.


RE: scary facts
By rebturtle on 4/1/2008 2:55:55 AM , Rating: 5
I can attest to that. Follow my wife in her car while she's driving, and then after she starts talking on the phone. She'll start to zone out right away. I bought her a hands-free bluetooth (on the visor, not in her ear) for the dang thing just because I can't convince her to stop talking to her mom and sister while she drives. I only hope that it can help at least a little. Anyone who thinks they aren't affected by it is in utter denial. Yes, I've done it before, and I don't like the feeling of driving for 5 minutes and realizing after the call that I have no idea what speed I was doing, where I was in traffic, or anything else I normally focus on just fine while talking to a passenger.

Over the last 10 years or so, I've noticed a new proliferation of people driving about 10-20MPH slower than the flow of traffic, usually in the fast lane, often swerving, and completely oblivious for miles and miles. Usually you see the tell-tale hand at head-level, but even with hands free you can pull up next to them and see that they are completely oblivious. I prefer to call them in as DUIs anyways.

Yes, if my wife gets pulled over like that, I will be happy of sorts. She won't actually get a DUI, but if it drives the message into her head in a way I haven't been capable of, it might save her life.

Sorry for drifting off-topic :)


RE: scary facts
By xsilver on 4/1/2008 3:27:18 AM , Rating: 2
does the US not have laws about driving while on a cell phone?

Here in australia its a fine and demerit points for not using bluetooth or wired handsfree and I think the UK has it too.

It is especially dangerous for those people who usually need 100% concentration while driving while some people can drive perfectly fine with a cigarette in one hand, a phone in the other, and a starbucks between their legs ;)


RE: scary facts
By Omega215D on 4/1/2008 7:46:12 AM , Rating: 2
In the US you have to be caught committing another violation in order to be reprimanded for using a cell while driving.


RE: scary facts
By napalmjack on 4/1/2008 8:41:50 AM , Rating: 2
Not all states have laws against it, and (for the most part) I don't believe that you have to be doing something else illegal to catch heat.


RE: scary facts
By FITCamaro on 4/1/2008 9:41:16 AM , Rating: 2
No it varies by state. In Florida you can be pulled over for driving without a hands free device. Whether the cops enforce it is another matter.


RE: scary facts
By Lord 666 on 4/1/2008 10:11:02 AM , Rating: 2
In NJ, using a cellphone without handsfree became a primary offense on March 1 of this year.


RE: scary facts
By MrBlastman on 4/1/2008 12:02:42 PM , Rating: 2
Using a cellphone while driving, handfree or not, should be a violation period.

You should be focusing on driving, not talking on the phone, when in a car.


RE: scary facts
By Sulphademus on 4/1/2008 3:46:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
does the US not have laws about driving while on a cell phone?


No federal laws. Some states have enacted such laws and even some counties & cities have made such if their state hasn't and they felt it worthwhile.

AFAIK, Maryland hasn't.


RE: scary facts
By roastmules on 4/1/2008 4:15:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, AFAIK, ALL of the states have a law against driving while distracted... This covers any distraction, including talking, regardless of whether it is hands-free or not, or even to a person in the car...
Just because the law doesn't say that it is illegal to set the time on my car's clock while driving doesn't mean that it's ok... It can be distracting.

The bans on cell phones are problematic, most contain clauses for exceptions for "emergencies", and are based on no data.

I've been using a cell phone -not hands free- in a car for over 12 years. No accidents, wrecks, points, fines. But, I rarely carry on a conversation, usually "I'm on my way home, do you need anything from the grocery store?"

People who carry on long conversations and have conference calls while driving, or worse, texting/emailing should be whooped.


RE: scary facts
By tmouse on 4/1/2008 11:49:54 AM , Rating: 2
Well I do not feel that Dr. Khurana's zeal is necessary at this time however the WHO (the medical organization, not the band ; ))study is probably wrong if they did state "no evidence suggests ANY link between cell phones and cancer". It is simply too soon to see a statistically observable increase in brain cancers. In the third world the data is virtually non-existent, in the more developed countries most people never get scans to look for early lesions. While many brain cancers do grow quickly little is known about the time from progression to proliferation, so in 5-10 years we may observe a rapid increase. There is evidence of cell damage from exposure to the electromagnetic frequencies used in cell phones in vitro, but it can be hard to extrapolate. I know epidemiologists who stood firmly behind the idea that the “love canal” disaster had no effect on the persons exposed, but as someone who had seen some of the damage during the clean up; well some of the walls actually "bled" multicolored secretions, and as for smell I was in a full hazmat suit with a Scott air Pac. The national academy study was inconclusive due mainly to the dearth of information, there is simply no common databases to supply this type of information and studies to gather it are expensive, and take a great deal of time and effort so generally only persons for or against make the effort. Unfortunately there are people who will bow to these efforts and suborn their work to the will of the people who pay their bills.


RE: scary facts
By tmouse on 4/1/2008 11:57:56 AM , Rating: 2
As an aside it is never a good idea to simply note the majority of scientists in an area feel this way or that so it must be true. The majority simply follow the most vocal just as in other areas of life. Unfortunately while skepticism IS important for science, Dogma can stifle innovation. Today; new or contrary ideas often lead to the death of the careers of the proponents. As an example the NIH has just begun to fund special sections for projects that are "out of the box", the very NEED to do this speaks volumes.


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