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CA Health Dept Squelches Cell Phone Warning

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Beginning 10 years ago, the California Dept of Public Health began reviewing various studies on health effects of cell phone usage, including brain cancer. After a political battle, they produced a watered-down info sheet for the public in 2010, expressing mild concern and counseling the most common-sensical precautions.

That pamphlet never saw the light of day. Make your own surmises about the influence of Verizon, Sprint and AT&T behind closed doors. After a 7-year court battle spearheaded by Dr Joel Markovitz of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, a copy of that pamphlet was released to a San Francisco Chronicle Reporter two weeks ago. It was stamped, "Draft and not for public release", but you can read it here.

Dr Stan Glantz of Stanford Medical School, a long time advocate for tobacco control, likens the Telecomm Companies' behavior to cigarette companies through most of the 20th Century.

I have been following the evidence that cell phone radiation can have adverse health effects for several years and think that the evidence for adverse health effects of cell phones is about where it was in the early 1960s for cigarettes...I have also been impressed at how, like Big Tobacco and global warming deniers, the cell phone industry has tried to keep people in the dark about the emerging evidence.

Cell phone radiation is not ionizing radiation (unlike x-rays, UV and radiation from nuclear power). This means that each photon has insufficient energy to break a chemical bond. For this reason, scientists for many years assumed that microwaves could not have biological effects.

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We now know this was faulty reasoning. We know it because of many studies that find a pattern between cell phone use and cancer statistics. We still don't understand how weak but coherent radiation can affect biological tissues, but there's no denying that it does.

Here is a review that came out last year in a Chinese journal, summarizing statistics on cell phone usage and cancer.

What you very reasonably want to know is, what are the odds my cell phone will give me cancer? This remains a question too difficult to answer. Some of the reasons:

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  • Different studies show widely varying results.
  • The subject is intensely politicized
  • Some studies are sponsored by the telecomm industry, and designed not to show an effect.
  • It is difficult to know how much time a person spends on the phone, and how much of that time is spent with the phone pressed against his ear. First-person reports are notoriously unreliable.
  • Cell phone usage is still expanding rapidly, and the cancer has a latency time of several years, so the greatest impact is probably yet to come.
I have written an article with more details of the health studies, and recommendations that expand a bit from the CA Dept of Public Health. Wifi devices in the home are a comparable source of radiation, weaker than cell phone handsets and not so close to the body, but used for longer periods of time.


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Josh Mitteldorf, a senior editor at OpEdNews, blogs on aging at http://JoshMitteldorf.ScienceBlog.com. Read how to stay young at http://AgingAdvice.org. Educated to be an astrophysicist, he has branched out from there to mathematical modeling (more...)

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