Yep, a very extensive study has demonstrated a link between cell phone radiation at levels to which folks like three and we are regulatory exposed, and two forms of cancer — glioma, a deadly tumor of the brain’s nerve signal conduit cells, and a cancer of the heart.
The results are for lab rats, and found only in the males. Oddly, rats exposed to cell phone radiation live longer, at least the ones not killed by cancer.
The latest research, conducted by the National Toxicology Program, an interagency program of the Department of Health and Human Services, has been posted online here as a PDF.
From Scientific American:
Federal scientists released partial findings Friday from a $25-million animal study that tested the possibility of links between cancer and chronic exposure to the type of radiation emitted from cell phones and wireless devices. The findings, which chronicle an unprecedented number of rodents subjected to a lifetime of electromagnetic radiation starting in utero, present some of the strongest evidence to date that such exposure is associated with the formation of rare cancers in at least two cell types in the brains and hearts of rats. The results, which were posted on a prepublication Web site run by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, are poised to reignite controversy about how such everyday exposure might affect human health.
Researchers at the National Toxicology Program (NTP), a federal interagency group under the National Institutes of Health, led the study. They chronically exposed rodents to carefully calibrated radio-frequency (RF) radiation levels designed to roughly emulate what humans with heavy cell phone use or exposure could theoretically experience in their daily lives. The animals were placed in specially built chambers that dosed their whole bodies with varying amounts and types of this radiation for approximately nine hours per day throughout their two-year life spans. “This is by far—far and away—the most carefully done cell phone bioassay, a biological assessment. This is a classic study that is done for trying to understand cancers in humans,” says Christopher Portier, a retired head of the NTP who helped launch the study and still sometimes works for the federal government as a consultant scientist. “There will have to be a lot of work after this to assess if it causes problems in humans, but the fact that you can do it in rats will be a big issue. It actually has me concerned, and I’m an expert.”
More than 90 percent of American adults use cell phones. Relatively little is known about their safety, however, because current exposure guidelines are based largely on knowledge about acute injury from thermal effects, not long-term, low-level exposure. The International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2011 classified RF radiation as a possible human carcinogen. But data from human studies has been “inconsistent,” the NTP has said on its website. Such studies are also hampered by the realities of testing in humans, such as recall bias—meaning cancer patients have to try to remember their cell phone use from years before, and how they held their handsets. Those data gaps prompted the NTP to engage in planning these new animal studies back in 2009.
More from the Wall Street Journal:
“Where people were saying there’s no risk, I think this ends that kind of statement,” said Ron Melnick, who ran the NTP project until retiring in 2009 and recently reviewed the study’s results.
Since mobile phones were launched commercially in the 1980s, the only widely agreed upon physical impact from cellphone radio-frequency energy is that it can heat human tissue at high enough levels. Cellphones are designed well below this thermal level.
The U.S. government’s official position is that the weight of scientific evidence hasn’t indicated health risks. In 2011, the World Health Organization said cellphone radiation was a group 2B possible carcinogen. Illustrating the ambiguity of the designation is the fact that certain pickled vegetables and coffee are also considered possibly carcinogenic.
There also are many studies showing no harmful health effects. Just this month, a survey of brain cancer rates in Australia found no increase since the introduction of mobile phones there almost three decades ago, a finding also seen in other countries.
And to conclude, this from Mother Jones:
The study was expensive in part because it required the construction of special exposure chambers that allowed thousands of mice and rats to receive standardized dozes of radiation. For about nine hours per day, for periods ranging from two months to the lifetime of the animal, the rodents were exposed to the RF radiation frequencies used by second generation (2G) phones—the standard at the time the study was initiated.
Only the test results for rats have been released so far. Female rats didn’t experience significantly higher than normal cancer rates. However, among male rats that received the highest radiation exposures, 2 percent to 3 percent contracted gliomas and 6 percent to 7 percent percent developed schwannoma tumors in their hearts, depending on the type of radiation used. None of the male rats in the control groups developed those cancers.
Potentially confounding the results, the rats exposed to radiation on average lived longer than those that weren’t. Some outside reviewers argued that the study’s authors should have given more weight to that caveat. Reviewers were also puzzled that the unexposed control rats didn’t exhibit the usual number of brain tumors. “I am unable to accept the authors’ conclusions,” wrote Michael Lauer, the deputy director of the National Institute of Health’s office of extramural research.