Cell phone dangers, especially for kids — just whom do you believe?

Ben Nelms's picture

University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Director Ronald Herberman set off a flurry of excitement last week when he released a memo to the center’s 3,000 employees advising caution over cell phone use.

His admonition had blood pressure soaring at the offices of cell phone manufacturers and that of the always popular Food and Drug Administration.

So what is it now? Another crackpot defying conventional wisdom and attempting to undermine the stalwart efforts of corporate interests and federal agencies?

Herberman’s 10-point advisory came from an unpublished reported compiled by 23 physicians and researchers from the United States, France, Monaco, The Netherlands and Italy. Herberman served on the expert panel.

They do not advocate throwing your cell phone in the trash, but they do recommend specific caution in using a product that has been on the world scene, at least in large-scale use, for little more than a decade.

Among the precautions listed in the report, the contributors recommended not allowing young children to use cell phones due to the risk of exposure to young, developing brains that are most likely sensitive to electromagnetic radiation, the need to keep the phone away from the body as much as possible and to use a wireless Bluetooth headset or the speakerphone function and to avoid carrying a cell phone on one’s body, though if doing so to have the back of the phone positioned away from the body so that the transmitted electromagnetic fields move away from the body rather than toward it.

Researchers also recommended keeping the duration of calls as short as possible, switching ears to spread out exposure and to choose a device with the lowest SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) possible.

Included in the report was a graphic of the significant increase in penetration of electromagnetic radiation from cell phones into the brains of a 5- and 10-year-old child compared to that of an adult.

Citing several recent studies and underscoring the fact that research is currently inconclusive, the report noted that subjects with a history of cell phone usage for a duration of at least 10 years showed a possible association between certain benign tumors and some brain cancers on the side of the head where the cell phone is customarily used.

In the report’s conclusion, the committee said, “The cell phone is a remarkable invention and a breakthrough of great social importance. Our society will no longer do without cell phones. However, we, the users, must all take precautionary measures in view of the recent scientific data on the biological effects of cell phone use, especially those who already have cancer.”

This statement carries an interesting significance since, as with tobacco, asbestos, lead, PCBs, and many other carcinogens, the cancer itself is often not manifested for years, even decades.

By the way, the FDA does not perform safety reviews of radiation-emitting products such as wireless phones prior to the devices being placed on the market. That’s left up to the companies. Does any of this sound familiar?

It was interesting to note that one of the other panel members was Dr. Devra Davis, director of the institute’s Center for Environmental Oncology and professor of epidemiology at Univ. of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Long in the upper echelon of corporate/government medical policy, Davis over the years became a whistle-blower who exposed some of the machinations, and the mystery, of cancer diagnosis, research and funding.

The problem with Davis is that her credentials are so impeccable that the corporate/government/medical/pharmaceutical complex can’t discredit her. Some of her recent books are well worth reading.

Why is it that Americans, fueled with suspicion by corporate, government and major media sources, almost always believe that whistle-blowers are lying and generally up to no good?

These people are so often demonized, bullied and threatened that it’s a wonder they even try to get the word out about anything.

If the mindset of the American people in the 1770s was the same as it is today, we would not have had an American Revolution. We would have believed what the British Crown told us and we would still be a colony today.

Tea, anyone?

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Submitted by FayetteFlyer on Wed, 07/30/2008 - 4:53pm.

Of apprehension concerning cell phones, but that little voice inside was being drowned out by the convenience of it all. Are cell phones unhealthy? Conventional wisdom would say, probably so. I would guess that should they be proven to be harmful, then a whole new cottage industry will develop to thwart the evil electromagnetic menace! Right?

Submitted by tc on Tue, 07/29/2008 - 10:39pm.

Interesting article. Once again big business wins out over human safety. Does anyone know where information can be found on specific absorbtion rates for various phones?

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