Electromagnetic Resolution for 2008?

Delightful Devra Davis, Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at UP’s Graduate School of Public Health,1 has provided me with a basis for one of your New Year’s Resolutions. I hope.

One of the problems with studies of cell phones, according to Dr. Davis, is that the issues they are trying to understand are inherently complex. Science works best, apparently, examining one thing at a time, as we do routinely with drugs in clinical trials.

The problems posed by cell phones in the real world are like are like huge simultaneous equations — mathematical formulas of relationships between multiple unknowns. She asks how we can determine the role of one factor, such as cell phone exposure to the skull, when others like diet, workplace conditions and local air pollution, are changing at the same time and at different rates.

Studying brain cancer, for example, is one of the toughest jobs in epidemiology, according to Devra (Let’s provide a cozy sit-down, holiday ambiance here, okay?) because it is a rare disease, takes years to decades to develop, an impairs the very systems that might give us clues, a person’s ability to recall and describe past activities and exposures that might have put them at risk.

The disease can take forty years to develop, and very often researchers have to rely on the very unreliable recollections of family members… respecting what elements a given relative might have been exposed to way back when. Try remembering on that count for your own life. Very difficult, to say the least.

When it comes to sorting through the risks of cell phones, we have lately been assured that there are none based upon reports from what appear to be independent scientific reviewers. Devra points out that researchers from the Danish Cancer Society reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2006 that they found “no evidence of risk in persons who had used cell phones.”2

Headlines around the world boasted of this latest finding from an impeccable source published in a first tier scientific journal. The press coverage of this study tells us a great deal about what journalists and the rest of us who depend so heavily on these phones would like to believe. The following were all posted between the 6th and the 10th in 2006:

“Cell Phones Don’t Cause Brain Cancer” — Toronto Daily News

“Cell Phones Don’t Raise Cancer Risk” — Reuters

“Big Study Finds No Link Between Cell Phones, Cancer” — San Jose Mercury News

“Study: Cell Phones Don’t Cause Cancer” — Albuquerque Tribune

“Study: Cell Phones Safe” — Newsday3

“Cell Phones Do Not Cause Cancer” — Techtree.com, India

Most people — in the absence of well-publicized official clarification/intervention — will run with those positive findings… for a number of reasons. Continue with their lifestyle as is. Keep their hands on their habits.

But…what did the researchers actually study? I can hear Santa Claus going “Ho, Ho, Ho” in the background:

1. They reviewed health records through 2002 of about 421,000 people who had first signed up for private use of cell phones between 1982 and 1995.
2. A “cell phone user” in the study was anyone who made a single phone call a week for six months during the period 1981 to 1995.
3. The study kicked out anyone who was part of a business that used cell phones, including only those who had used a cell phone for personal purposes for eight years.

Dr. Davis asks:

1. Why did they not look at business users — those with far more frequent use of cell phones?
2. Why lump all users together, putting those who might have made a single cell phone call a week with those who used the phones more often?
3. Why stop collecting information on brain tumors in 2002, when we know that brain tumors often take decades to develop and be diagnosed?

There are NO legitimate explanations for such indiscretions.

It would have been better to compare the frequent users with non-users, omitting the limited users altogether. Devra notes, “Lumping all these various users together is like looking all over a city for a stolen car when you know it’s in a five-block radius.”4

The Danish Study was designed to appear definitively thorough — Imagine, 421,000 people!!! — but in fact it was biased against positive findings from the start.

Anyone who’s interested in receiving data which definitively damns the use of cell phones is invited to contact this author. Short of that, if you’re interested in the health of society and your own health on this count, I recommend the “Presumed Innocent” chapter (Fifteen) of Dr. Davis’ latest book.5 For the purpose of coming up with a possible… New Year’s Resolution.

Regardless, I do have one other anecdote to share, which hints at WHY findings (you’ll keep coming across) are likely to gloss over the gross, horrific aspects of cell phones.

A major international study of brain cancer in wireless phone users has been underway for quite some time, headquartered at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization in Lyon, France.

The large study was designed to combine more than 3,000 cases of brain tumors from around the industrial world and was supposed to release its results in 2006. In Canada, Daniel Krewski, a respected epidemiologist who heads that country’s national study of cell phones, receives much of his funding from the industry. Some have asked whether this constitutes bias. Krewski is also part of the IARC study.

The former director of the IARC, Lorenzo Tomatis, is concerned about the lack of independence of this important work, according to Dr. Davis. He complained publicly in 2004 about the close cooperation that was developing between the cell phone industry and those who were studying brain cancer that could be associated with cell phones’ use.

When Dr. Tomatis returned to the facility in Lyon to meet with colleagues with whom he had worked, he was treated like no other former director: he was ordered to leave and security guards escorted him from the building. Much along the lines of how Will Ferrell’s “Buddy” (a loving character) is roughly escorted out of his Scrooge-like father’s office building — denying him deserved refuge — in the laughable movie Elf.

I end on this funny cinematic note because more readers are likely to be able to relate to that Moloch-like image than they can to delineated dangers of cell phone use.6 And I do so want readers to stop stagnating with/suffering through the commercial imagery surrounding cell phones, push past the powers that be, and resolve to make changes in their lives. Our lives.

  1. She is also a Global Environmental Advisor to Newsweek, and was the founding director of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the National Academy of Sciences and Services, as well as Scholar in Residence at the National Academy of Science. Her traditional credentials are impeccable, but the real basis for her credibility lies in her unswerving embrace of what’s right, unencumbered by any self-serving financial and/or career agenda. []
  2. Devra Davis, The Secret History of the War on Cancer (New York: Basic Books, 2007), pp. 401-402. This is a monumentally important/well-respected/useful book for the layman. I urge one and all to delve into Devra’s opus. []
  3. Interesting to note that Dr. Davis is Global Environmental Advisor to this publication. Whoops, that’s Newsweek, not Newsday! Still, the point is that the vast majority of independent scientists do not concur with the “reassuring” headlines. Documentation upon request. []
  4. Davis, op. cit., p. 403. []
  5. Her 2007 book (cited above) begins Chapter Fifteen with a photo of Donald Rumsfeld, posing as CEO of the Searle Corporation… when FDA approval was granted prematurely to market aspartame in 1981. The fact that scientific reviewers were overridden in that case should be highly instructive. Across the board, our decision-making authorities have been dropping the ball for decades. It’s time for the pubic to come up with a new way of looking out for themselves. To put it mildly. Again, this author has recommendations upon request. []
  6. Which include, of course, the electromagnetic dangers for non-users associated with cell towers. []

Marcelle Cendrars, freelancing daughter of Blaise Cendrars, can be reached at: bcendra@yahoo.com. She is the "Provost" of San Jose, California's Free Underground College to Kindergarten Educational Retreat, a home school network of dissenting citizens who encourage parents to have their children drop out of mainstream institutions, and make use of alternative educational options. Read other articles by Marcelle, or visit Marcelle's website.

19 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Marcelle Cendrars said on December 26th, 2007 at 9:11am #

    I believe that I left out a very important point in this article. That is, by continuing to fudge the stats so that cell phones come out smelling sweet in studies the powers that be create a horrible situation above and beyond the obvious health damage done by perpetuating misinformation.

    By allowing cell phones, cell towers and their first cousins to become all-pervasive, omnipresent in our lives…a setting is established whereby NO ONE will be able to participate in a study in the future in a control group. Specifically, there simply won’t be anyone left (for a Group B) who can be juxstaposed with those affected by electromagnetic gizmos. EVERYONE will be so impacted by the Monster Syndrome that we won’t be able to contrast groups. NO STUDIES will be possible…to establish “the truth” about cell phones (beyond what’s already on the books). — Happy Holiday from MC

  2. dan elliott said on December 26th, 2007 at 4:27pm #

    Interesting. You may or may not find it interesting that I refuse to own a cell phone, not out of concern for my physical health, more for my mental equilibrium. The number of calls I get on the land line is nuisance enough without being jangled at while I’m trying to avoid Death On I-5.

    As Grandpa Elliott said when the boys brought home the shiny new ’27 Studebaker: “That thing is an Instrument of The Devil”.

  3. brian said on December 26th, 2007 at 4:35pm #

    Anyone interested in learning about the dangers of cell phone technology. should visit this site:

    http://www.mast-victims.org/

    Also, there a matter of how to dispose of them:

    ‘Mountain of discarded mobiles grows at ‘frightening’ rate
    By Nic Fildes
    Published: 24 December 2007
    Snazzy new mobile phones like the iPhone and other must-have electronic gadgets, such as the latest laptops and iPod models, will fill many stockings this Christmas. But disposing of the older devices will not be at the forefront of most people’s minds.

    Around 11,000 tons of unused phones already sit dormant in drawers across the UK, and that figure is likely to rise this Christmas as people upgrade to better devices. Factoring in old laptops, games consoles and portable music players, the environmental implications of celebrating Christmas with a new digital toy start to look ominous, as most of the older electronic products will end up in landfill sites, leaking dangerous chemicals into the earth.

    While reusing the devices either by passing them on to friends or selling it is the best solution, recycling the gadget is the next best thing. Companies such as the Body Shop and mobile phone operators such as Orange have been offering to recycle handsets for years, but UK consumers are still much more likely to bin their old phone as soon as they have transferred their numbers.

    Johan Thomsen, a manager at Green Mobile, argued: “The problem today is that people upgrade their mobile phones every year and only a small percentage of these phones are disposed of safely.” The situation is ” frightening”, he said.

    etc
    http://news.independent.co.uk/sci_tech/article3280480.ece

  4. Marcelle Cendrars said on December 26th, 2007 at 7:25pm #

    I appreciate both Dan’s and Brian’s contributions here. I trust that others who read this will also respond. Anything helps, for this topic deserves much discussion and action. The scorecard is in “sufficiently” to want to change things. To –at the very least– not allow the tidal wave of cell syndrome to push traditional phones totally out of the market, etc. In addition, I think that it’s long past overdue for “activists” to acknowledge that unless they’re willing to seriously consider changing certain lifestyle habits –like the out-of-control use of cell phones– on a personal level…that no advances will be made in other realms…like bringing troops home, etc. In the Big Picture just about all of the major issues are connected to A NEED TO CHANGE OUR HABITS, and short of that taking place all here culminates only in words…words…words. Blessings, Marcelle

  5. Deadbeat said on December 26th, 2007 at 8:08pm #

    I see several issue here:

    [1] Cell phones as a safety hazard

    [2] Cell phones as an environmental hazard

    [3] Cell phones as a lifestyle “hazard”

    I agree with Ms. Cendrars about the issue of safety. We need accurate information to assess cell phone safety.

    I also agree that cell phone are fast becoming an environmental hazard as cell phone users are encouraged to upgrade. This the same problem with the computers upgrade cycle and especially with now trend to the new flat panel monitors and the disposal of the old CRT computer monitors. However I have a day job and requirement in my day job forces me to keep up with the latest technology. However I’ve notice activists are becoming technology savvy which means they too are buying computers and cell phones.

    I disagree however with the lifestyle hazard. I think cell phones are excellent technology and many “middle class” parents love giving their kids cell phone so they can stay in touch. I have a cell phone and gave up my land line because it was cheaper and I can carry my cell phone with me. So for me it is not a “habit” but in my case a condition of “employment”. However I unlike my colleagues am still using the same cell phone over the past four years and haven’t bought into the upgrade hype. I use my cell phone only to make and receive phone calls. I don’t text message or play video games or watch movies on my cell. I reserved that activity for my laptop and home computer.

    While this issue may be disconcerting, overall, I don’t see this as a pressing issue to organize around.

  6. Marcelle Cendrars said on December 26th, 2007 at 9:19pm #

    Dear Deadbeat and like-minded individuals:

    The “lifestyle” issue is directly related to the environmental and personal safety issues. “Lifestyle” is brought up mainly because of those two aspects of The Issue of Cell Phones. For example, although there are benefits to having cell phones in emergencies…the runaway use/abuse of cell phones (which is what the article is primarily focused on) necessitates the cell towers which endanger ALL citizens w or w/o a cell phone. Again, unless the “lifestyle” which demands cell phones be not only used but dominant/exclusively used eventually are questioned more seriously by the powers that be and the public (which will have to change their lifestyle attitudinally to “question”)…cell phones will “take over” more than ever…and –as per my comment #1 above– it will become impossible to do any studies whatsoever in the future. Not that they’re necessary in the sense that enough damning info is already in vis-a-vis personal and public health issues. Upon request I can give readers a list of well-known individuals whose lifestyles with cell phones succumbed to cancer very likely as a consequence of…not questioning their habits. — Marcelle

  7. Marcelle Cendrars said on December 26th, 2007 at 9:39pm #

    Just came across a link http://www.mast-victims.org/ which should be of interest to those who feel affected by those invasive towers, the masts and antennas that keep the Electromagnetic Dance going. And for those who understand the great danger cell phone towers pose to PUBLIC HEALTH ACROSS THE BOARD. Best, Marcelle

  8. Mulga Mumblebrain said on December 26th, 2007 at 9:47pm #

    It seems Denmark is becoming a centre for an archetypal Rightwing cottage industry, that of Denialism. Not just home to the environmental charlatan and Denialist par excellence the execrable Bjorn Lomborg, not only from whence emerged the Denialist looniness of cosmic rays controlling climate change and not just the epicentre, for a time, of Islamophobic agitation, through the cartoons insulting Mohammed fracas, but now doing its bit for the Right by jumping on another bandwaggon. The Right treats any criticism of any capitalist abomination, no matter how egregious, as another front in their interminable ‘culture wars’. As the Downing Street Memorandum said of the Iraqi WMD conspiracy, ‘The facts are being fixed around the policy’. For the Right the policy is always the same-business must have its way, profits must be realised, come what may. The facts are infinitely plastic. Its only the conclusions that are pre-ordained. The closest analogy is with ‘creation science’ where the conclusion, that God created the Universe in six days, six thousand years ago, is set, and the ‘research’ is carried out to reach that, and no other, conclusion. It’s amazing just what you can manage when you elect Rightwing bigots to power, as we discovered here, in Australia, to our regret, over the last eleven years.

  9. Marcelle Cendrars said on December 27th, 2007 at 1:20am #

    I ask the editors at DVoice to consider greater “screening,” if possible, in these commentary sections. It’s certainly sorely needed. Respectfully, Marcelle

  10. Lloyd Rowsey said on December 27th, 2007 at 8:52am #

    MC. Re your recent posting regarding stories from cell phone mast towers’ sufferers: http://www.mast-victims.org/

    I clicked on the http, and the home page of Mast-Victims.org came up; then I clicked on “News” at the left, then on “View News by Country.” Not surprisingly, the UK, followed by the USA, then Germany are the three countries reporting the most stories. I clicked on the USA and read several of the stories.

    I wonder how an individual person initiates an inquiry into whether mast towers are located near the person’s home, or are planned to be located there?

  11. Marcelle Cendrars said on December 27th, 2007 at 9:02am #

    Hi, Lloyd. Thanks for the inquiry, the valuable question. I’m not sure how to go about answering…for a given community ’cause it seems as if such info is generally blocked…this way or that…depending upon the particular community involved. In some places small “units” are disguised. On the surface the “excuse” offered is that the “design” is for aesthetic purposes. Well, they’re not prettying up telephone poles and the like, are they? Go down to a Development and Planning Commission or some such department in a given town and you might get some cooperation on this concern. I’d like to be kept posted on this matter, if you don’t mind, as you learn something. Locally, I find that many citizens –when confronted about a tower that’s been placed right in the middle of their daily lives– tend to brush off the importance…go even as far as saying that town officials wouldn’t put up something dangerous. This is a real problem. But…in California…I know that I could make some headway on this count…if the thrust of my “Dream Party: Soulful Bedfellows, Anyone?” article were picked up on. OUR Governor of California could help the public to self-educate on this and other issues easily. And citizens would have a shot at stopping the momentum of Cell Phone Takeover. I mean WALKOVER. — Marcelle

  12. Di Eagle an' Di Bear said on December 27th, 2007 at 12:50pm #

    keith harmon snow wrote on the subject in 2004….
    http://www.allthingspass.com/uploads/html-45CellTower%5B1%5D.htm

  13. rosemarie jackowski said on December 27th, 2007 at 1:34pm #

    Marcelle’s first comment is an important one. We all are being subjected to the health hazard. We have no choice about it. Also, has anyone here mentioned the “coltran” issue for those who mine it?
    I remember when we were all advised to get electric blankets in order to save energy. Years later, pregnant women and others were told about the health hazard. Some experts believe that there might be a connection between electric stoves and breast cancer. What was deemed safe yesterday, is considered to be a problem today. An interesting experiment – go through your house or apartment with a Gauss meter and watch the readings.

  14. Marcelle Cendrars said on December 27th, 2007 at 8:16pm #

    Merci, Rosemarie. The “coltan issue” is important, particularly in the Congo…where there are multiple threats to miners; in fact, there can be no “protection” that would be sufficiently meaningful for workers mining coltan and other minerals related to Siicon Valley’s prosperity, etc. It is “holocaustic” there by any standards…in those parts of Africa where coltan is mined. Rosemarie’s points about the household are well taken, of course. To be updated, btw, don’t rely on the traditional sources of information such as the American Cancer Society. I trust that people got that “recommendation” from the article; let’s hope. Because our homes and bodies are riddled with carcinogenic elements we must come up with new ways to STOP The Momentum. At least reduce it, transform it some. Again, I am obliged to encourage readers to get a “taste” of my piece on “The Dream Party: Soulful Bedfellows, Anyone?” as that might encourage contact with me…to DO something ASAP. The article does not attempt to explain more than the surface of the idea focused upon, btw. — Loving best, Marcelle P.S. Keith can be trusted with regard to his take on Africans and Western intervention thereabouts.

  15. Håkan Larsson said on December 29th, 2007 at 2:06pm #

    Mulga Mumblebrain brings up a certain Bjorn Lomborg. Good for you Mulga. Recently the leading Swedish journal Miljömagasinet (MM) ran an article about him. He holds a master’s degree in statistics from the University of Aarhus, Denmark and has no other academic or scientific titles or publications to his credit. His home page looks harmless enough, but whenever Lomborg’s name appears one should know that he is a charlatan of the worst kind who resorts to the most despicable verbal prostitution to further the interests of his true clients: the really hard-core reactionaries who use him to ridicule and marginalize sensible voices arguing for a balanced view of the true state of things. Maybe worse, Lomborg is in a way protected from being unmasked by his peers by the Danish government who in its way is quite as bad as the lineup fronted by Bush and Cheney. So, please be very wary of Lomborg in all ways, and please spread the word!

  16. Marcelle Cendrars said on December 30th, 2007 at 8:14am #

    A

  17. Marcelle Cendrars said on December 30th, 2007 at 8:17am #

    At the Time of Cigarettes, very few imagined that they would be banned here and there. Give me ten passionate souls in California, and we can have an excellent shot at shooting down Cell Phone Syndrome by 2011. And create a lot of lovely ripples in the process. Please get in touch with me or put people in touch with me. Blessings for the New Year, Marcelle

  18. Bruce Olive said on February 17th, 2008 at 4:24am #

    Marcelle

    You seem to be concentrating too much on the instrument (cell phones) rather than the villain (EMR) in the Telecommunications fractured fairy tale of “We Is The Good Guys”. Leave us not forget wireless Internet EMR which affects a much larger geographic area in the family home and has vastly more air time to cause fatalities and injuries.

    IT IS ABSURDLY SIMPLE to display and record EMR’s death dealing capability, eg take Per Sagabeck head designer of Ericcson phones into an EMR free area with a team of impartial doctors and scientific instruments (make sure there is no EMR neutralising device in range from anyone on behalf of vested interests to shonk the results). Remove him out of his EMR proof suit, observe him and when nothing happens turn on some EMR near him and watch what happens when it shuts down his central nervous system – ask the doctors if he is faking it! Or do the same with your author Arthur Firstenbirg and watch his vital signs fade to black. ‘PROOF POSITIVE ‘ INSIDE 15 MINUTES – all the other crap you quote about waiting years for a result to manifest is precisely that, if it applies to two it applies to heaps more. Oh yes two large black wagons might be useful if you can’t revive them.

    And what about the 500 pound gorilla sitting quietly in the corner? Half or more of adult America has tinnitus – nominate one researcher with the brains to have researched EMR-caused hearing damage which can be shown in the time it takes to full range audiogram a person guaranteed not to have been near EMR for a month, expose him/her to an hour of wireless Internet and re-audiogram. A simple Excel graph will show the damage by the variations up (hyperacusis) or down (incipient tinnitus). ‘PROOF POSITIVE’ INSIDE TWO HOURS! I would have thought your ATA should have been your largest and therefore most valuable ally in the war against EMR-caused human damage.

    Doh! If IQs are measured in single digits then that is where you would find the majority of researchers who can’t figure out such a simple procedure like mine above. Ditto most of the writers who simply regurgitate researchers’ points of view without any active input into helping the said cerebrally challenged researchers.

  19. Marcelle Cendrars said on February 17th, 2008 at 7:36pm #

    I love this comment directly above by Bruce Olive, for the most part. Feel free to reach me at bcendra {AT} yAhOO . COm to discuss some “practical” issues.