Cancer Calling, Again
Bleifuss, Joel, In These Times
On May 20, CNN's talking doc, Sanjay Gupta, wrote on CNN.com, "Just about every time I use a cell phone, I plug in my wired earpiece first."
On May 17, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reported that people who have used a cell phone for 10 years or more doubled their risk of developing a glioma, a type of brain cancer. Gupta explained that because the latency period between a carcinogenic exposure and the development of a cancer is about 20 years, and because cell phones have not yet been in widespread use for 20 years, there is cause for concern. He writes: "Most of the studies that have shown an increased risk are from Scandinavia, a place where cell phones have been popular since the early 1990s."
Of course, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), the lobbying arm of cell phone corporations, begs to differ. The group's VP for public affairs, John Walls, dismissed the IARC study that found cell phones to be a "possible carcinogen." Don't worry, he said, the agency has "given the same score to . . . pickled vegetables and coffee."
Eleven years ago, I reported on the link between cell phones and brain cancer after a Swedish study found the risk of brain cancer near the ear was 2.5 times greater in cell phone users. At the time, Henry Lai, a University of Washington bioengineering professor, was warning about the dangers of low-level microwave radiation like that emitted by cell phones. It appears that such radiation causes the DNA in the brain cells of rats to break apart.
Lai was highly critical of the CTLA. In a letter to Microwave News he wrote, "[The CTLA research program] has shown a consistent pattern of chaotic corruption and deception. …