Dangers of EMFs and your cell phone
Limit cell phone use because of the possible risk of cancer," warned Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. Have we reached the saturation point with our cell phones?
The debate is re-opened
Herberman issued this warning after releasing his cancer study , Important Precautionary Advice Regarding Cell Phone Use, just a few days ago in North America.
For years, there been whispers in scientific circles about the safety limit of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by power lines, cell phones, wireless computers and other devices. The debate has brought to the public by a report published by an international group of experts in August 2007.
The BioInitiative Working Group includes twenty scientists, researchers and public health policy professionals who reviewed more than 2,000 scientific papers and reviews on EMFs. Their report documents scientific evidence that links childhood leukemia to exposure to power lines as well as brain tumors and Alzheimer's disease associated with the prolonged use of cell and cordless phones.
This latest report from the University of Pittsburgh is changing those whispers to a very large shout.
Need to pay attention
For at least the last two years, scientists have warned about health impacts caused when people are exposed to electromagnetic radiation and cautioned the existing safety limits are actually too high and need to be lowered. The limits are currently established by the American Federal Communications Commission (US FCC) and International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection in Europe (ICNIRP).
"This report stands as a wake-up call that long-term exposure to some kinds of EMF may cause serious health effects. There is evidence that EMF is a risk factor for both childhood and adult cancers," said public health expert and co-editor of the Report Dr. David Carpenter. "Good public health planning is needed now to prevent cancers and neurological diseases linked to exposure to power lines and other sources of EMF. We need to educate people and our decision makers that 'business as usual' is unacceptable."
Dr Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of Albany, New York and founder of university's School of Public Health, estimates that EMFs are a contributing factor in 20 to 35 percent of child cancers. "In my mind the evidence is overwhelming", he said.
Dr. Haberman puts it more strongly: "Recently I have become aware of the growing body of literature linking long-term cell phone use to possible adverse health effects including cancer. Although the evidence is still controversial, I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cell phone use."
Cancer in the home
Since 1979, more than a dozen epidemiological studies have associated child leukemia and overexposure to residential magnetic fields. They found that the risk of leukemia doubled when the 24-hour average dose measured as low as 1.4 milligauss (mG). Some studies even found the risk quadrupled above 3 or 4 mG.
Based on these studies, in 2001 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified residential magnetic fields as "possibly carcinogenic" even though these fields are Extremely Low Frequency (ELF)
In Quebec, where 73 percent of homes are heated with cheap electricity, one out of five children receives a daily average dose of at least 2 milligauss (2 mG or 0.2 microTesla), according to McGill University professor and Hydro-Québec researcher Jan Erik Deadman. Health Canada has noted that Quebec also has the highest rate of child cancer in Canada (16.5 cases per 100,000 children).
The BioInitiative Report recommends: a 1 mG limit for housing adjacent to all new or upgraded power lines and a 2 mG limit for all other new construction; a 1 mG limit for existing housing to protect children and pregnant women; and a limit of 0.1 microwatts per square centimetre for outdoor cumulative exposure to radio frequencies. That's 10,000 times lower than what's currently suggested by the ICNIRP.
Physicians Suzanne and Pierre Dehoux, French experts in healthy housing, recommend the following distance to minimize EMF exposure: 400 kilovolt (kv) lines should be 250 metres away; 225 kV lines 150 metres away; 63 to 90 kV lines 100 metres; 20 kV line 40 meters, transformers 5 to 10 metres away. However, symptoms and disease have also been reported up to 400 metres from cell phone base antennas.
The problem is that the demand for electricity is growing worldwide and public exposure has multiplied. Stand-by power is also adding to our exposure since many household appliances are plugged in to receive voltage but not necessarily turned on. In 2007 British scientists discovered that electrically-charged particles increase risks of asthma because they stick to lung and respiratory tract tissue.
Underestimating the problem
The World Health Organization recently acknowledged further research is needed on EMFs, said that "the use of precautionary approaches is warranted ...exposure limits should be based on a thorough examination of all the relevant scientific evidence." It also stated that the number of cases of childhood leukemia attributable to (EMF) exposure represents 0.2 to 4.9% of the total worldwide.
"WHO is grossly underestimating the impact," Dr Carpenter, "It's ignoring exposures from appliances, radio frequencies (from wireless appliances and antennas, etc.) as well as other exposures outside of homes, for example in school. In the mid-1980s, the Savitz study concluded 10-15 percent of all child cancers resulted from magnetic field exposure from powerlines. Nobody pointed out any errors in Savitz's logic."
The BioInitiative Report also found a 20 percent increased risk of malignant glioma brain tumours with ten years of cell-phone use and a 200 percent risk for tumours on the same side of the brain where cell phones are held.
Hundreds of medical studies have also linked various sources of EMFs to numerous ailments and diseases, ranging from depression to skin, eye heart, reproductive and neurological problems.
As the debates continue there are some things you can do to minimize your exposure to EMF:
Avoid living near cell phone transmission towers or any other radio/TV transmitter. Experts agree that 500 metres (0.31 miles) is too close. You should move if you're that close. If you do live near a tower you can paint your home with a coat of anti-EMF paint as a base coat.
Some people are reporting success using devices that block EMFs and strengthen the body's resistance. The most respected seems to be EMF-Bioshield followed by BioPro and the more dubious Q-link.
Cell phones are the most offenders. have been cited as one of the sources of the highest amount of electromagnetic radiation. Fortunately there are a number of products out there to block their effect. The Wave Shield is one of most respected products out there. The company also sells shields for computers and laptops. By the way, don't use cell phones in cars since the radiation is magnified by the signal having to get stronger to counteract all that steel. Keep your children away from cell phones altogether!
André Fauteux, is the editor of La Maison du 21e siecle magazine (21st-Century Housing) , Canada's oldest magazine on green homes. Shelagh McNally, editor of Green Living Online updated this article
According to a Swedish study, if you spend many years using your cell phone for at least an hour a day your risk of developing a brain tumor is 240% higher than a person who never uses one. The results of this study go against another recent one carried out in the UK and published in January, 2006, which indicated that cell phone use is safe for humans.
The researchers found that even the location of the tumor, for extensive cell phone users over many years, tends to be on the side of the head where the phone is used.
You can read about this study in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health.
The scientists examined cell phone use among 905 people who had a malignant brain tumor and compared them to a control group of 905 healthy people. All the volunteers were aged 20-80.
85 of the 905 people who had a malignant tumor were high users of cell phones (mobile phones) - they started using mobile phones a long time ago, and have used them a great deal, on average for about an hour a day.
According to Kjell Mild, study leader, in an interview with the Reuters news agency, the best way to reduce the risk is to use hands-free.
The team's definition of a extensive use means over 2,000 hours of cell phone use, spread over many years.
Mobile phone use 'linked to tumour'
Long-term users of mobile phones are significantly more likely to develop a certain type of brain tumour on the side of the head where they hold their handsets, according to new research.
A large-scale study found that those who had regularly used mobiles for longer than 10 years were almost 40 per cent more likely to develop nervous system tumours called gliomas near to where they hold their phones.
The new research, to be published later this year in the International Journal of Cancer, is the second study to suggest increased risks of specific types of brain tumours in regions close to where mobile phone emissions enter the head.
However, a number of other studies have found no increased health risks associated with mobile phone use.
Prof Lawrie Challis, the chairman of the government-funded Mobile Telecommunications Health Research (MTHR) programme, said last week that most research had shown that mobiles were safe in the short term but that there was a "hint of something" for longer-term users.
Prof Challis, who is negotiating funding for a long-term international study, said last night: "I agree with the authors that this is a hint that needs further exploration. It's further reason why a long-term study is necessary."
Louis Slesin, the editor of Microwave News, a US newsletter on radiation and health that reported the new study, said: "We now have two tumour types found among people who use mobiles for more than 10 years shown by two different research groups. That is compelling evidence."
Researchers from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland compared the mobile phone use of 1,521 people with gliomas with that of 3,301 people without the cancers.
Before separating out long-term users or looking at the different risks of developing tumours on the side where users held the phone, the scientists found no link between mobile use and gliomas.
However when they looked only at people who had used a mobile for 10 years or more, they found that they were 39 per cent more likely than average to get a glioma on the side of their head where they held their handset.
Prof Anssi Auvinen, an epidemiologist involved in the study, said: "It seems credible as it was after long-term exposure — which makes sense in terms of the length of time it takes for tumours to develop — and it is localised to the side of the head where the handset is held."
A spokesman for the Mobile Operators Association said: "The overall results of this study do not show increased brain tumour risk in relation to mobile phone use.
"The findings related to tumour location are difficult to interpret."
Heavy Cell Phone Use Linked To Cancer, Study Suggests
Dr. Sadetzki, a physician, epidemiologist and lecturer at Tel Aviv University, published the results of a study recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology, in which she and her colleagues found that heavy cell phone users were subject to a higher risk of benign and malignant tumors of the salivary gland.
Those who used a cell phone heavily on the side of the head where the tumor developed were found to have an increased risk of about 50% for developing a tumor of the main salivary gland (parotid), compared to those who did not use cell phones.
The fact that the study was done on an Israeli population is significant. Says Sadetzki, "Unlike people in other countries, Israelis were quick to adopt cell phone technology and have continued to be exceptionally heavy users. Therefore, the amount of exposure to radiofrequency radiation found in this study has been higher than in previous cell phone studies.
"This unique population has given us an indication that cell phone use is associated with cancer," adds Sadetzki, whose study investigated nearly 500 people who had been diagnosed with benign and malignant tumors of the salivary gland.
Controlled Study Reveals Link
The study's subjects were asked to detail their cell phone use patterns in terms of how frequently they used one, and the average length of calls. They were compared to a sample of about 1,300 healthy control subjects.
The study also found an increased risk of cancer for heavy users who lived in rural areas. Due to fewer antennas, cell phones in rural areas need to emit more radiation to communicate effectively.
Sadetzki predicts that, over time, the greatest effects will be found in heavy users and children.
While anecdotal evidence has been substantial, the consistency of the results of this study support an association between cell phone use and these tumors. The risks have been hard to prove, mainly due to the long latency period involved in cancer development, explains Sadetzki.
Keep Calling but Call Smarter
Today it is estimated that more than 90% percent of the Western world uses cell phones. As the technology becomes cheaper and more accessible, its usage by a greater number of people, including children, is bound to increase.
"While I think this technology is here to stay," Sadetzki says, "I believe precautions should be taken in order to diminish the exposure and lower the risk for health hazards." She recommends that people use hands-free devices at all times, and when talking, hold the phone away from one's body. Less frequent calls, shorter in duration, should also have some preventative effect.
While she appreciates the ease of communication that cell phones allow between parents and their children, Sadetzki says that parents need to consider at what age their children start using them. Parents should be vigilant about their children's using speakers or hands-free devices, and about limiting the number of calls and amount of time their children spend on the phone.
"Some technology that we use today carries a risk. The question is not if we use it, but how we use it," concludes Sadetzki.
Sadetzki's main research on this new study was carried out at the Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research at the Sheba Medical Center. Her research is part of the international Interphone Study, which attempts to determine an association between cell phones and several types of brain and parotid gland tumors.
CELL PHONES AND CANCER
The study of the effects of the cell phone's microwave transmission on the tissues of the body has been relatively brief, as the mass usage of cell phones has been a recent phenomenon. But much has indicated the danger of cell phone usage on living tissue even in that short span of time. It was talked about much more frequently in public forums such as newspapers and radio talk shows when the cell phone's popularity started to rise. Then suddenly, things got strangely silent. A good detective would suspect that the multi-billion dollar wireless industry was "somehow" capable of neutralizing the debate. So now you have everyone - including kids - sticking microwave boxes beside their skulls for several hours a week. And a coincident increase in cancer, which cell phone advocates dismiss with adjectives like "insignificant increase."
"There is strong evidence that extreme low frequency (ELF) and radio frequency microwaves (RF/MW) are associated with accelerated aging, enhanced cell death and cancer, bad moods, depression, suicide, anger, rage and violence, primarily through alteration of cellular calcium ions and the melatonin/serotonin balance." - Dr. Neil Cherry, Lincoln University, New Zealand
Anyone who has taken the time to investigate this knows that cell phones fry your brain. The fact is that cell phones operate on a microwave bandwidth. Microwaves are used in broadcasting transmissions because microwaves pass easily through objects (buildings, mountains, etc.) with less interference than longer wavelengths. Try to imagine what they do to living tissue. Ham radio requires an operator to place his transmitting tower several yards away from any neighbor houses. The operator himself can be closer to the source of radiation, as he is in a "controlled RF" area, that is, he can control the transmission process. His neighbors are designated an "uncontrolled RF" area, in that they cannot control the radiation emanating from the tower. No such restrictions are put on cell phones, which emit similar amounts of radiation, and are pressed right against the head, obviously because it would ruin a multi-billion dollar business.
In order to avoid regulation by the FDA,the cellular industry agreed to create a thorough study to assure the public that cell phones were safe. In 1993 they hired Dr. George Carlo, a public health scientist, to spearhead what would eventually become a 6-year, $28.5 million research project. Rigorous checks and balances were implemented to guarantee that the findings from this project would be valid, and would stand up to the most rigid scrutiny. Ultimately, there were over 200 scientists and doctors from around the world that became involved, as well as the Harvard School of Public Health and the FDA. The expectation of everyone involved was that they were not going to find anything that would cause alarm. After 5 years of first designing and then implementing new testing procedures, however, alarming evidence began to emerge. Dr. Carlo's research showed several alarming signs: The human skull is penetrated deeply by the energy emitted from a cell phone. The blood brain barrier, which prevents invasion of the brain from toxins, can be compromised by the cell phone radiation and, most startling, that radio frequency radiation creates micronuclei in human blood cells, a type of genetic damage known to be a diagnostic marker for cancer. Here's how Dr. Carlo summed up his findings:
"The big picture is becoming disturbingly clear: there is a definite risk that the radiation plume that emanates from a cell phone antenna can cause cancer and other health problems." Dr. George Carlo was head of research for the cellular industry from 1993-1999. Dr. Carlo was dismissed from his position, and his funding removed by the cellular industry, after he released his official report documenting those findings, and appeared on several national television news programs, including ABC's 20/20, to discuss his study. In addition to those discoveries, other health effects were also shown to have a connection with the use of cell phones, among them: headaches, dizzy spells, fibromyalgia, Parkinson's Disease, hormonal fluctuations, leukemia, memory loss, chronic fatigue, ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), Altzheimer's, cataracts, reduced sperm counts, learning disabilities and behavioral problems in young children.
A recent study in Sweden showed evidence of people in rural areas having a higher chance of brain tumors from the higher radiation levels required to boost the cell phone signals for those rural dwellers. "We found that the risk of brain tumor was higher for people living in rural areas than in towns. The stronger the signal, the higher the risk," said Lennart Hardell, lead author of the study and a professor of oncology at University Hospital in Orebro. The team monitored 1429 people with tumors, both malignant and benign and 1470 healthy people from various regions of Sweden. They determined that people who lived in rural areas and used a cell phone for at least three years were three times more likely to contract a brain tumor. If used it for 5 or more years, then your chances are quadrupled. The prospects don't look promising for a generation that is becoming more addicted to cell phones, use their cell phones virtually all the time, and seem not to care about the risks.
Cell Phone Usage Linked To Lower Sperm Count
The more a man uses his cell phone the lower his sperm count is likely to be, said researchers from Cleveland, New Orleans and Mumbai, at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The researchers found that every aspect of a man's sperm profile can be affected by many hours on his cell phone.
The researchers looked at the sperm count, motility and normal forms of the sperm of 364 men. They found that:
-- among men with a normal sperm count who never used a mobile phone, average sperm counts were 86 million per milliliter, 68% motility and 40% normal sperms
-- among men with a normal sperm count who used their mobiles more than four hours per day, average sperm counts were 66 million sperm per milliliter, 46% motility and 21% normal forms
The researchers believe the effect on sperm profiles may be caused by the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the devices, or their heat. They added that further studies are needed to find out exactly what the mechanisms are that undermine sperm quality.
"Relationship between cell phone use and human fertility: an observational study"
P-398 A. Agarwal, S. A. Prabakaran, G. Ranga, A. T. Sundaram, R. K. Sharma, S. C. Sikka
HIGHLIGHTS from the 62nd ANNUAL MEETING AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE
Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today
Cell phones can affect sperm quality, researcher says
Keeping a cell phone on talk mode in a pocket can decrease sperm quality, according to new research from the Cleveland Clinic.
"We believe that these devices are used because we consider them very safe, but it could cause harmful effects due to the proximity of the phones and the exposure that they are causing to the gonads," says lead researcher Ashok Agarwal, the Director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine.
In the small study, Agarwal's team took semen samples from 32 men and brought them to the lab. Each man's sample was placed into small, conical tubes and divided into two parts: a test group and a control group. The control group was unexposed to cell phone emissions, but kept under the same conditions and temperature as the test group.
The semen in the test group was placed 2.5 centimeters from an 850 MHz cell phone in talk mode for 1 hour. Researchers say that 850 MHz is the most commonly used frequency.
They used the measurement of 2.5 centimeters to mimic the distance between the trouser pocket and the testes. Agarwal reasoned that many men keep their active cell phones in their pants pocket while talking on their headsets.
Overall, researchers found an increase in oxidative stress such as a significant increase in free radicals and oxidants and a decrease in antioxidants. Agarwal says that equals a decrease in sperm's quality, including motility and viability. Evidence of oxidative stress can appear under other conditions, including exposure to certain environmental pollutants or infections in the urinary genital tract.
"On average, there was an 85 percent increase in the amount of free radicals for all the subjects in the study. Free radicals have been linked to a variety of diseases in humans including cancer," said Agarwal. Free radicals have been linked to decreased sperm quality in previous studies.
However, the study does have major limitations, he acknowledged, such as the small sample size. It also was conducted in a lab and so cannot account for the protection a human body might offer, such as layers of skin, bone and tissue. Agarwal is in the early stages of further research that can model the human body's role in protecting from radio-frequency electromagnetic waves emitted from cell phones.
Agarwal also admits that there is no clear explanation of this demonstrated effect, but he shared some of his theories. "Perhaps the cell phone radiation is able to affect the gonads through a thermal effect thereby increasing the temperature of the testes and causing damaging effects in the sperm cell."
In a previous study, Agarwal and his team found that men who used their cell phones more than four hours a day had significantly lower sperm quality than those who used their cell phones for less time. Those findings were based on self-reported data from 361 subjects.
A Dangerous Call: Is Your Cell Phone Frying Your Brain?
We love our mobiles... but are we being told all the facts about how safe they are?
They are both fashion accessories and an essential part of our lives. Yet since they first became widely available in the 1990s, there have been nagging doubts about just how safe mobile phones really are. Could they cause cancers in the brain? Does living near a mobile phone mast raise your risk of other cancers?
Professor Denis Henshaw, head of the Human Radiation Effects Group at Bristol University, says: "We are steeped in denial over the safety of mobile phones and related technologies." He points, as an example, to a recent Austrian study which found a raised risk of breast cancer near phone masts. "We have emission levels in the UK similar to those in Austria and yet there is no warning to people of possible dangers."
Contrast the UK position with that in other countries, where at the very least they take the approach that when it comes to this new technology, its better to be safe than sorry. The German government has taken a more cautious line over wi-fi. Last September, the German environment ministry recommended that people should keep their exposure to radiation as low as possible by replacing wi-fi with a cabled connection. Three years ago, the Vienna Chamber of Doctors put up more than 21,000 posters in surgeries and other places with very specific warnings about mobile phones, such as: "Use your phone as little as possible" and "Men - never keep a phone in your trouser pockets as it can reduce fertility."
A study last month reported that out of 360 men attending an infertility clinic, those who used their mobile the most had the poorest sperm quality. Last October, two Swedish professors pulled together the results of 11 studies involving people who had used mobiles for more than a decade and found they were 20 per cent more likely to develop a benign tumour in the inner ear, and 30 per cent more likely to develop a type of brain tumour known as a malignant glioma.
Last month, the Irish Doctors Environmental Association said that the current thermal-based guidelines were clearly no longer appropriate and called on the government to "immediately start research into the non-thermal effects of exposure to electromagnetic radiation". "There is absolutely no doubt these effects exist," says Dr Andrew Goldsworthy, a biologist and expert in low frequency microwave radiation, and honorary lecturer at Imperial College in London.
"For instance, we've known for more than 30 years that electromagnetic fields affect the behaviour of calcium in living cells." He claims that this could explain the symptoms reported by people who say they are affected by pulsed microwave radiation - the sort emitted by mobile phones. "The textbook symptoms of too little calcium - such as fatigue, muscles cramps, irregular heart rhythm and gut problems - are very similar to those reported by people who say they are affected by microwave radiation," he says.
"Mobile phones and the rest aren't going to go away, but could we do more to acknowledge the possible problem so people can make an informed choice about using them and can learn to deal with the effects?"
Written by Jerome Burne, as seen in ‘Food Matters'
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