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How the Lahkola Study Was Left Out

June 4, 2008

It was a "mistake," says Anders Ahlbom. That's how he explains why his "expert group" left out the Lahkola study from its report on important EMF developments in 2007 for SSI, the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority (see our March 14 post).

The Lahkola study points to a significant increased risk of brain tumors among long-term cell phone users in five countries participating in the Interphone project. This was a curious omission since two of the Lahkola coauthors helped prepare the SSI report. In a comment that has now been appended to the report, here's what Ahlbom, the chairman of the panel, wrote: "the paper was discussed by the group and was part of the basis for the conclusions. However, it was by mistake overlooked when preparing the report. The Expert Group regrets this accidental omission."

What's missing is any mention at to why two other Interphone studies (from France and Israel), which showed elevated tumor risks, were also omitted from this same report.

June 3, 2008

Chronic exposure to 3G (UMTS) cell phone radiation can promote the growth of tumors, according to a new animal study presented at a workshop in Berlin last week. This finding is "remarkable," according to the lead researcher, Thomas Tillmann of the Fraunhofer Institute of Toxicology and Experimental Medicine (ITEM) in Hannover, Germany. At this point, only the conference abstract is available (p.10).

June 3, 2008

Today's New York Times features a column by Tara Parker-Pope on cell phones and brain tumors, "Experts Revive Debate Over Cellphones and Cancer." As of this afternoon, it is the most popular story (most e-mailed) on the Times Web site.

June 2, 2008

Editors and reviewers at Epidemiology thought long and hard before publishing the new paper suggesting that a child's behavioral problems can be traced, at least in part, to the mother's use of a cell phone use during pregnancy (see our May 14 post). This comes across in an editorial by David Savitz that appears the same issue (July) as the paper.

The study is "a nearly perfect recipe for 'inflammatory epidemiology'," acknowledged Savitz, an editor at the journal who has long been involved with EMF research. But, he went on, "reviewers and editors believe that these findings are worth consideration by the scientific community.

May 31, 2008

Some news notes on the Interphone study:

• Those who say there are no long-term cell phone risks often point to the Interphone study from Japan, published earlier this year, for support. As we have previously reported, the Japanese researchers said there was no association between cell phones and brain tumors, even though they found a close to sixfold increase in glioma among heavily-exposed users after ten or more years (see our February 15 post). That link was based on a small number of cases and was not statistically significant; the Japanese attributed the increase to recall bias. Bruce Hocking, an occupational and environmental health physician in Melbourne, Australia, suggests otherwise. In a letter published this week in the British Journal of Cancer, Hocking points out that the risk of meningioma (another type of brain tumor) is hardly raised at all (OR=1.14). He writes: "If recall bias is the true explanation for the increased risk of glioma, it should similarly have affected the meningioma group, but it has not. Therefore, the increased risk in the glioma group may be a true finding."

May 29, 2008

Next-Up, the European activist group, has posted the entire Larry King Live show, "Cell Phones: Are They Dangerous?," on its Web site. Only the ads are missing. Click here to see the 44-minute video. A transcript is also available.

May 28, 2008

Robert O. Becker, a towering figure in bioelectromagnetics, died on May 14 due to complications from pneumonia. He was 84 and had been ailing for some time. Becker, best known for his research on "currents of injury" and the role they play in regeneration, made significant contributions to many areas of electrobiology. He was later drawn into public controversies over health effects — Becker is credited as the first to use the term "electromagnetic pollution"— and in the end paid dearly for speaking out.

"Bob Becker's passing marks the end of an era in bioelectromagnetics, that time when very few scientists believed that non-thermal electromagnetic exposures were biologically significant," said Abe Liboff, a physicist and the co-editor of Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine. "All the work on applying electromagnetic fields to bone repair is attributable to Becker's reinterpretation of Carlo Matteucci's discovery of currents of injury," he said.

May 27, 2008

Larry King will devote tonight's show to a discussion on "Cell Phones: Are They Dangerous?" Among those scheduled to appear are Drs. Keith Black, the head of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon and CNN's chief medical correspondent, Vini Khurana, an Australian neurosurgeon (see our April 10 post), Louis Slesin, the editor of Microwave News, and Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society.

A Surprising Finding

May 14, 2008

It's certainly a provocative and surprising finding —almost to the point of being unbelievable. A joint U.S.–Danish team has reported that young children born to mothers who had used cell phones during pregnancy were more likely to have behavioral disorders, such as hyperactivity and emotional problems.

April 28, 2008

Another Interphone researcher is expressing concern over the tumor risks associated with the long-term use of mobile phones. "I think the evidence that is accumulating is pointing towards an effect of mobile phones on tumors," Professor Bruce Armstrong of the University of Sydney School of Public Health told "TodayTonight," an Australian current affairs show on Channel 7, a national network.

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