Cell phones, Radiation and Cancer
A few months ago, a "prominent-cancer-doctor-warn[ed]-about-cellphones" and the risk of brain cancer. (1). To avoid worldwide panic, the modern person should be better informed. First, cellphones are not high-powered radio transmitters. The power output of cellphones in the U.S. has been regulated by law to about the strength of a night-light or holiday LED decoration.(2). Second, as the doctor states, "the evidence about a cellphone-cancer link remains unclear." Third, other incriminating statements clearly point to heavy use (30 hours per month), if not extreme use (50 hours per month) of headside cellphone use.(3)(4).
On the flip side is that radio waves are in use to cure cancer.(5)(6)(7)(8)(9). Thus, there is a certain irony that radio waves both cause and cure cancer.
Another problem with modern living cancer scares is confusion over the causative agent. Uninformed people confuse radio and microwave energy with nuclear radiation. See (10)(11) but compare (12). Radio waves are part of the electromagnetic spectrum of radiation. See e.g., (13). The danger, however, is not in the length of the wave as asserted by some, (14), but rather in the amount of energy received by the body. See e.g.,(15).
Cooks and electricians can vouch for the danger of heat and electrical sources, see e.g.,(16), neither of which we think of as "radiation" per se, but both of which are also part of the electromagnetic spectrum of radiation, heat as infrared radiation, and electricity as beta radiation, (15). Radio waves, such as emitted by cellphones, have the lowest energy, (13), although there are conflicting reports that even AM transmitting towers are dangerous to children, (17)(18). Another popular thought, albeit somewhat discredited, is that high-voltage transmission towers also cause cancer.(19).
The actual danger, as this former medical technician, then nuclear engineer now patent attorney is well-aware, is in whether the energy is enough to harm the DNA or RNA in the nucleus of the cells of the body.(20). If you can, in a prolonged exposure, fry an egg on a hot sidewalk, think of what happens to our brains next to a continuous stream of many hours electromagnetic radiation. Consequently, the correct viewpoint is not that cellphones are dangerous, but that prolonged exposure is dangerous.
The astute reader will realize, however, that our environment is awash in radiation in many forms. Besides cellphones, our homes, offices and outdoors are bathed in electromagnetic radiation from and to cellphones and to our AM and FM radios, televisions, from satellite broadcasts such as XM, Sirius and GPS signals.
Another ignored cancer risk is high-altitude living as well as traveling by air. As stated by one Stanford University authority, "[b]ackground radiation exposure for a person living in a brick house in Denver, Colorado is approximately three times larger than the exposure of a person living in a wooden home in Palo Alto, California."(21). Frequent flyers, who tend to double-dip as cellphone-using bodies, might particularly be at risk, in that a mere two-hour flight doubles a person's daily radiation exposure.(22). At those levels, one cross-country flight is a week's worth of ground-level radiation.
In summary, do not believe everything the sound bite harps on, but in a society that purports to care for its children, "people should take precautions, particularly for children."(1).
For more information, the EMFacts Consultancy, founded in 1994 by Don Maisch, has produced a wide range of reports and papers dealing with various health issues related to human exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation.(23).
(1) Prominent Cancer Doctor Warns About Cellphones, The New York Times, Tat Parker, 7/24/2008, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/prominent-cancer-doctor-warns-about-cellphones/.
(2) Information On Human Exposure To Radiofrequency Fields From Cellular and PCS Radio Transmitters, FCC, Office of Engineering and Technology, last reviewed/updated 12/11/08, http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/cellpcs.html. The regulations are posted at http://www.fcc.gov/oet/info/rules/part15/PART15_07-10-08.pdf.
(3) Comment 107, "2000 to 3000 minutes per month," http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/prominent-cancer-doctor-warns-about-cellphones/?apage=5#comment-46525.
(4) Comment 108, thirteen years of heavy use, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/prominent-cancer-doctor-warns-about-cellphones/?apage=5#comment-46518
(5) Radio waves used to destroy cancer, http://www.rd.com/living-healthy/radio-waves-and-the-search-for-a-cancer-cure/article26497.html.
(6) Radio Waves Fire Up Nanotubes Embedded in Tumors, Destroying Liver Cancer , M. D. Anderson News Release 11/01/07, http://www.nanohealthalliance.org/news-items/radio-waves-fire-up-nanotubes-embedded-in-tumors-destroying-liver-cancer.
(7) Patient Becomes Unlikely Inventor Of Cancer-Fighting Technology, David Templeton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/3/2007, http://www.wbko.com/news/headlines/9554822.html.
(8) The Kanzius Machine: A Cancer Cure? CBS News, 7/20/2008, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/10/60minutes/main4006951.shtml.
(9) Combination Of Radio Waves With Pharmacologically Active Substances, United States Patent Application 20070184020 A1, http://www.freepatentsonline.com/70184020.html.
(10) Comment 4, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/prominent-cancer-doctor-warns-about-cellphones/?apage=1#comment-46594.
(11) Comment 36, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/prominent-cancer-doctor-warns-about-cellphones/?apage=2#comment-46597.
(12) Comment 14, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/prominent-cancer-doctor-warns-about-cellphones/?apage=1#comment-46582
(14) Comment 18, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/prominent-cancer-doctor-warns-about-cellphones/?apage=1#comment-46574.
(17) Radio-frequency radiation exposure from AM radio transmitters and childhood leukemia and brain cancer, Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Aug 1;166(3):270-9. Epub 2007 Jun 7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17556764. "Brain cancer and infantile cancer were not associated with AM RFR."
(18) AM Towers Fingered as Cancer Cause, Radio World, Randy J. Stine, 11/21/2007, http://www.rwonline.com/pages/s.0052/t.9812.html.
(19) Exposure to power-frequency magnetic fields and the risk of childhood cancer. UK Childhood Cancer Study Investigators, Lancet. 1999 Dec 4;354(9194):1918-9, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10622294, "This study provides no evidence that exposure to magnetic fields associated with the electricity supply in the UK increases risks for childhood leukaemia, cancers of the central nervous system, or any other childhood cancer."
(21) Radiation, Stanford University National Accelerator Laboratory, Last update: 10/31/2008, http://www2.slac.stanford.edu/vvc/theory/radiation.html
(22) Natural Radiation Hazard at Aircraft Altitudes, NOAA / Space Weather Prediction Center, Updated: October 1, 2007, http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/info/RadHaz.html.
(23) EMF Health-effect Research, Don Maisch, http://electricwords.emfacts.com/index-epi.html