(Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC)
Scientifically baseless lies and attacks are inexcusable; CEA should take note and ban Santor/Dexim

The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2014) has come and gone and there's plenty to be excited about.  But after a week of reflection I feel compelled to speak out about something I saw at the opening "Unveiled" event.

I. Digital Snake Oil

The culprit was Shenzhen, China-based Santom Ltd. -- a company who also goes by the name "Dexim" (maybe they're two different companies, but in the Americas, the company's full name is "dexim Santom USA Inc."  At the Unveiled event they made the sensational claim to have a product that protects you from:
  • leukemia
  • bone cancer
  • skin cancer
  • ephysema
  • bronchitis
  • ... and more!
Santor flier lies

How do they do this?  They put a cover on the back of your cell phone with a battery in it!

.... uh, wait what?

Clearly this Chinese gadget maker who has an Americas outpost in Ontario, Canada is counting on its target audience (Apple, Inc. (AAPL) iPhone 5/5S owners) to be gullible.  I take that back -- they're counting on them to be glaringly gullible. 

Their "XPowerSkin" appears -- in my professional opinion -- to be a handy backup battery and a passable bumper, but its maker is using lies to try to generate interest and push a cheap product to be sold at a higher unit fee.

Someone call Sweet Brown -- a Chinese company claims cell phones cause bronchitis.

I'm disappointed that the show organizer (the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)) would invite Santom if they were aware of its pitch.  But I'd imagine the weren't.

Let be clear.  It's utter fear-mongering malarkey to suggest that smartphone, tablets, or any other form of wireless devices cause this laundry list of cancers.  Even among wireless fearmongers, the kinds of claims Santom is making are extremely uncommon.

II. Electricity != Nuclear Decay

It appears the "engineers" over at Santom Ltd. must have slept through high school biology and physics, or they would have learned:

Radiofrequency waves are electromagnetic fields, and unlike ionizing radiation such as X-rays or gamma rays, can neither break chemical bonds nor cause ionization in the human body.

Those aren't my words -- they're the words of the World Health Organization (WHO) -- one of the medical field's most reputable international authorities.  The WHO writes:

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.... research has not been able to provide support for a causal relationship between exposure to electromagnetic fields and self-reported symptoms, or “electromagnetic hypersensitivity”.

...[R]esults of animal studies consistently show no increased cancer risk for long-term exposure to radiofrequency fields.

The largest retrospective case-control study to date on adults, Interphone, coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), was designed to determine whether there are links between use of mobile phones and head and neck cancers in adults..... there was no consistent trend of increasing risk with greater duration of use. The researchers concluded that biases and errors... prevent a causal interpretation.

In other words scientists say there's no evidence that cell phones or Wi-Fi are causing brain cancer by beaming waves through your skull.

When most of us who passed high school science hear "radiation" in the context of disease, we think of ionizing radiation from radioactive isotopes.  Ionizing radiation of course can cause enormous damage including leukemia, lung damage (ephysema), skin cancer, etc.  Again that's ionizing radiation -- the kind you might encounter while playing with plutonium, drinking a nuka cola, or rushing out of your bunker to try to save a teenager during an atom bomb test.

But ionizing radiation by no means isthe same as nonionizing radiation, more commonly refered to as low-energy electromagnetic waves/signals.  Comparing low-energy electromagnetic waves to ionizing radiation (which includes both particle and high energy EM waves) is like saying the Earth is a star.  It's ignorant, it's wrong, it's just plain stupid.

Santom-dexim was advertising wireless speakers right next to pamphlets blaming cancer victims families for supposedly causing the disease with their cell phones.
[Image Source: jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

Even Santom-dexim seems to realize this.  Not only did they use CES as a platform for this baseless fearmongering campaign, in an epically hypocritical twist -- ready your facepalm -- they were also promoting wireless Bluetooth-enabled stereo speakers right next to their fliers telling you that wireless signals cause cancer

III. Sometimes, Bad Science Can Get Personal

At the event where they were handing out these fliers I confronted dexim Santom's employees.  I informed them: "You do realize there's no scientific evidence that cell phones cause cancer?"

The dexim Santom representative responded, but refused to back down from his company's claims.  In broken English he argued that "everyone knows" cell phones are "bad for the health".

To his understanding the causative mechanism was chips inside the phone "getting hot".  He claimed the signals and heat triggered cancer and that the rubber case with its lithium ion battery somehow blocks those foul cancer rays.

I was fighting leukemia before I or anyone else in my family ever got a cell phone contract.
[Image Source: Mayo Clinic]

Normally I would laugh off such fantastically ridiculous claims.  But when you start to attack the victims you've sunk to a bizarre new low, and you should faces consequences.

Believe me, I'm not one to cry foul or preach political correctness very often.  I'm a staunch supporter of free speech.  And that's why on the off occasion where I see truly hateful, snake oil like this I arm myself against it with words as my weapon.

Am I taking all this a bit personally?  You bet I am.  I am a cancer survivor.  A little over ten years ago, after my freshman year of college I found myself unexpectedly in a war.  My body was destroying itself.  After being tested for everything from the flu to Lyme disease, I found myself diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).

Sound medicine and good science saved my life from a terrible disease and I will never forget that.  Today my health has never been better.  Last year I ran my first marathon.

cancer patient
When you lie and blame patients' cancer on the victims and their families, you deserve to be condemned. [Image Source: CARE | Karen's Blog]

But as good as I have it, I will never be able to fully forget seeing many people who were not as young or lucky as I was.  Many of my hospital ward neighbors during those days of IVs and hospital gowns didn't make it to see "remission", much less a "cure."  My heart goes out to the surviving loved ones of those who died on those hospital beds.

As a scientist, as a reporter, and -- yes, as a cancer survivor, I find it disgusting to market such lies to the public to sell a product, exploiting cancer deaths to sell your cheap cell phone case.

IV. Blaming the Victims and Their Families -- Are you Kidding Me?

But where I think where Santom sinks to its ultimate, low, though, is when its marketers choose attack not only cancer victims (blaming them for causing their illness), but their family members as well, stating in broken English:

Cellphone Radiation was impacted (sic) your families health!

attacking cancer victims
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

No, you Santom nincompoops, it has not.

What is remarkable about this statement as it transforms one of the most wildly unfounded and sensational claims of cell phone illnesses (bronchitis -- really?) and takes it to a whole new realm of offensiveness.  Basically, dexim Santom is accusing the families of people who get leukemia, skin cancer, etc. of causing the cancer.

This is an amazingly offensive claim -- I've never heard of even those who fear cell phone towers restorting to such accusations of cancer victims' families.  It's an incredibly cold-hearted and poorly thought out claim, even on top of the fundamentally incompetent science that backs it.

While a small minority of cancers are due to occupation exposures (asbestos, benzene, etc.), anyone with a graduate level biochemistry, cellular biology, or cancer biology background will tell you that cancer does not occur overnight.  It is the culmination of dozens of mutations which took the diseased cells to their breaking point.

Mutations may be impacted by certain environmental factors (diet, etc.), but more than anything are a heavily stochastic (random) process.  My cancer, fell into this category.  As my doctor told me, it was basically a roll of the dice in terms of mutation events.  I had rotten luck.

My luck has since turned, but I can not help but be appalled at the decision of this company to accuse the families of unlucky cancer victims of causing their loved ones' disease.

Genetic roll of the dice
Many cancers are effectively an unlucky dice roll in terms of genetic predispositions and random mutations -- to blame the victims and their families is heartless.
[Image Source:]

Why not just sell your product as a backup battery?  Why lie to customers?   Why capitalize on human suffering to make a cheap buck??

Now I realize likely only a handful of employees at Santom and its dexim brand were involved in this ugly effort.  But that doesn't change the blame born by the company and whoever committed it to this reprehensible advertising pitch.

That move definitely earns dexim Santom my "worst in show" award.  Now, I don't usually give a "worst" award for anything, as there's a positive to even the most flawed products.  But I see no positive in spreading lies about cancer.  That kind of thing earns you a rare "worst" destinction.

Santor lies
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

It's a free market, but I recommed that readers refuse to do business with dexim Santom USA and its foreign parents.  I also suggest you boycott the "XPowerSkin" iPhone case that was promoted by these falsehoods.

I hope the CEA takes note Santom's statements, as well, and does not give them such a prominent showcase in the future to spread fear, uncertainty, and disinformation (FUD) discrediting an otherwise superb industry event.  Feel free to email either Santom or the CEA with your thoughts.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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