Researchers found clear evidence of cancer in some rodents exposed to high levels of radiofrequency radiation similar to cellular signals.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at Research Triangle Park hosted some of the world’s top experts to review the findings of a $25 million study. Years of testing on thousands of rats and mice found a particularly heightened number of malignant schwannoma tumors in the hearts of male rats. The rodents received increasing levels of radiofrequency radiation, higher than allowable cell phone emissions, during the study by the National Toxicology Program.
“The heart tumors are of a type that have been shown to be elevated in some epidemeology studies of humans who have used their cell phones under the highest power conditions for the longest period of time,” NTP senior scientist Dr. John Bucher said.
“This isn’t a universal finding. It still remains a sort of controversial finding because there are a number of studies that have not shown this effect. The tumor type that we saw in our studies was the same type of tumor–although in humans it’s seen in the vestibular nerve, in the ear, the acoustic nerve–we found it in the heart, although our animals were exposed in the whole body,” he said.
“The fact that this tumor was the same was the thing that really drew our eye to it.”
Testing found some significant increases in the number of other types of tumors in some of the rats and mice, but the researchers and analysts said it is not clear if those tumor increases are related to radiofrequency radiation and would correlate to cancers in people.
The conference in Durham drew a crowd including critics and activists who want increased regulations from the federal government on cell phone manufacturers and service providers.
Several people from the Environmental Health Trust expressed concerns about the safety of cell phone use.
“We believe that even though you haven’t reached statistical significance, this is of great public health importance because of the widespread exposures,” EHT director Dr. Devra Davis said.
“We’re now studying something that we are already exposed to. We are in the midst of a vast, uncontrolled experiment on ourselves, because of the exposures that are taking place all over the world today. That’s why it’s very important to pay attention to what this study shows,” she said.
“While a given animal is not making a cell phone call, they are, throughout their short two-year lifetime, getting the same exposure that we expect people to get in their 70-plus years of life, that’s why (researchers) use that dose. It’s not equivalent to the cell phone radiation today, but if for the lifetime, it is equivalent.”
Dr. Annie Sasco traveled from France to the National Toxicology Program peer review sessions. Before entering retirement, Sasco was a cancer researcher for the World Health Organization.
She provided written comments to Bucher and other panelists about her thoughts regarding regulation.
“It’s the responsibility of the government to try to enforce regulations that will really protect the population. Also I think it’s the responsibility of the ones making the phones to make them as safe as possible, and I’m sure they can make do better than what we actually have,” Sasco said.
“Ten years ago, working with (Dr. David Servan-Schreiber), we issued a recommendation saying to hold your phone as far away from you as can, to use loudspeaker mode, to text rather than call. If you have access to a wired landline, to use a landline. For pregnant women not to put their cell phone in their pockets or their dress,” she said.
“We are already said what is being said now, and in a way, I’m very said. By doing these simple measures, we can avoid these unnecessary exposures, so why not do it?”
Bucher, the National Toxicology Program senior scientist, agreed with much of Sasco’s advice. He said people can reduce radiofrequency radiation considerably by holding the phone slightly away from the ear, which Bucher said is written in most phone user manuals, and encourages people to use earbuds. He also said it is a bad idea for people to keep phones in their pockets or other places near their body.
“I don’t think there’s a panic about phone use. Our studies are what are called hazard identification studies. These studies are done under conditions that, in essence, provide what would be considered an extreme exposure scenario to animals to reveal the potential for biological changes,” Bucher said.
Activists from the California Brain Tumor Association, a non-profit advocacy group which is currently focused on concerns surrounding the stronger forthcoming 5G networks, pointed to a recent Italian study.
“We should be minimizing exposure, not maximizing exposure like we are with the roll out of 5G,” CBTA outreach director Kevin Mottus said.
“There are many, many brain tumor lawsuits going on right now that are waiting for a study like this to prove that people’s brain tumors were caused by their cell phone radiation.”
Mottus claims the NTP researchers backed off of brain cancer findings, but Bucher said much of the findings are inconclusive as to definite evidence.
The NTP will revise its report based on votes of the advisory panel and submit recommendations to the NIEHS director, and additional actions may be taken by the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Communications Commission.