Mobiles give you brain cancer?
Take a message, I'm on the other line
Column Call me sensitive if you must, but when someone starts talking about wireless and keeps using the word "radiation" I tend to suspect an agenda.
So this week when Occupational Environmental Medicine used headlines such as "Using mobile phones for more than 10 years doubles risk of brain cancer", my first respose was to search through the article for this magic word.
I didn't find it until the third paragraph, and it was carefully used.
That made me read the piece more carefully than I would have done otherwise. According to author Geoffrey Lean, the survey he's reporting "is important because it pulls together research on people who have used the phones for long enough to contract the disease".
Me. That's who they're talking about. I started using mobile phones in the old analogue phone days with the cool NEC Micro 900 back in the early 1990s. So I take reports like this very seriously.
And the question all heavy phone users will want answered is: what do I do about it? I mean, it's not as if I can go back to a world where I don't have this essential tool of modern business. I'm more totally addicted than any cigarette burner.
Naturally, my first response is denial.
My own opinions on mobile phones, Wi-Fi, and other radio transmissions, are that until we have a large and statistically valid body of epidemiological data to analyse, we simply don't know what the long term effects are. There are lots of stories, and Lean quotes a typical anecdote in his piece:
Neil Whitfield, a 49-year-old father of six, developed an acoustic neuroma in 2001 after years of heavy mobile phone use, on the left side of the head, to which he had held his handset. He says he had no family history of the disease and that when he asked a specialist what had caused it, the doctor had asked him if he used a mobile.
It's a great quote to illustrate something we already know - if we do know it. But, epidemiologically, it's simply meaningless. Anybody can get acoustic neuromas; very, very few of us do. Even if they are shown to be caused by mobile phones, which is not yet clear, it's not obvious that it's "radiation" that is the mechanism.
The ill-effects of simply covering your ear for prolonged periods are widely understood, and I haven't heard of a study which tests the effects of heating (what is known as "cooking") your nerve cell sheaths. I do know that phones heat your ears up.
The trouble is, I'm immunised against stories like this.
If you take the trouble to research the history of the telephone mast debate, you'll quickly discover more "green ink" than even a Hi-Fi nut could spread on the entire CD canon.
Recently, I was debating the subject with a well-known anti-mast campaigner - he appeared on the notorious Panorama "exposé" of Wi-Fi dangers - and I mentioned, in passing, that the amount of power given off by a wireless antenna was really, really small. His response: "We didn't evolve in a way that enables us to cope with that sort of radiation."
I said: "But it's not radiation in the same sense that radium-based luminous watches were. And I've seen people campaigning about phone masts while parading up and down in the street with their babies in the sunshine, without sun cream."
He said: "But we've evolved to cope with sunshine."
Well, not really. Ultra-violet radiation from the vast nuclear fusion bomb that is the Sun is just one of the ionising spectra which causes skin cancer and will actually make your skin burn and fall off if you have more than a few minutes exposure. I said as much: "But UV is seriously dangerous. It's ionising radiation."
"Oh, no, negligibly," came the reply.
After you've had similar conversations with enough well-meaning but ignorant people, you start to ignore them, the way you ignore people who tell you the CIA is beaming messages into their skulls to try to make them confess to things they haven't done.
But the OEM isn't a green ink outfit. If it's right, we'll have to change the way we use phones.
UV and Microwave Radiation
Actually, UV radiation inflicts its damage by the creation of the highly reactive singlet oxygen (O), a reactive oxygen species (ROS) (though not technically a free radical), via the breakage of the bonds of diatomic oxygen (O2) found in the skin. The singlet oxygen ROS will then wreck havoc by damaging DNA, mitochondria, and the cell wall, and can very well bring about the death of a cell. The damage caused by a single hit of the singlet oxygen ROS is autocatalytic in nature in that it will set off a chain reaction where more and more (hundreds of) free radicals are created, which hence cause more damage.
It is said that 80% of vitamin C stores in the skin are depleted after just half an hour in the sun. Since vitamin C is also an antioxidant preventing free radical damage, its depletion can very well lead to skin cancer.
Interestingly, there is ample evidence to suggest that the now ubiquitous exposure to UV's cousin, microwave radiation, causes the same kind of reactions in the body - since microwaves are in fact used specifically to create singlet oxygen in technical applications - and perhaps on a much deeper level since we know that microwaves can penetrate the body deeper than UV.
Research has actually shown very clearly that exposure to microwave radiation caused the formation of free radicals while also depleting the body of its vitamin C stores, on top of depleting the body of a number of its natural antioxidants like superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione, CoQ10, and melatonin.
Actually, one of the major mechanism's by which nuclear radiation causes damage is by the creation of a flood of what is called they hydroxyl (OH) ROS when water in the body undergoes ionization after being subjected to ionizing radiation.
So, what can one do to protect oneself? Well, eating lots of tomatoes, which contain lycopene, one of the most powerful singlet oxygen quenchers is one important strategy. And since we also know that vitamin C is depleted, taking it in large doses is should help to replenish what is being lost just by living in this world.
Taking lots of other kinds of antioxidants would also probably be a very good idea since there are a number of different kinds of free radicals/ ROS (Superoxide O2-, Hydrogen Peroxide H2O2, Lipd Peroxyl LOO, Nitric Oxide NO, Alkoxyl RO, Peroxyl ROO, and Peroxynitrite ONOO) formed in the body and specific antioxidants are known to be good at mopping up these specific free radicals.
Some antioxidants shown to have protective abilities are grape seed extract, gingko biloba, vitamin E, milk thistle, bilberry, blueberry, leutein, zeaxanthin, carotene, astaxanthin, CoQ10, and ALA to name a few.
Since microwave radiation has also been shown to lower counts of a white blood cell called natural killer (NK) cells - which are the body's first line of defense against pathogens and known to attack and destroy both cancer and virally-infected cells - it might also be a good idea for those concerned about their health to take a natural product called Transfer Factors, shown to considerably boost NK cell counts.
I've got a Ph.D. in physics from Berkeley, and years of publications.
Back in the 60's Allan Frey explained that frequencies in the 500 MHz-5 GHz
range penetrate skin and skull much better than your car headlight ever will.
The big about fat molecules above is probably a bit off. It's the water molecules
that are in contact with fat that will heat the quickest. They don't have hydrogen bonds holding them in place. So the water right at the cell membranes reaches near boiling temperature. This of course causes a heat shock response, which has been documented in recent published papers (ERK1/2 response). What happens next?
Note that the rate of Alzheimer's started climbing by a factor of 10 a few years (1978-1983) after the first million microwave ovens were sold (1975). It then leveled off (thank god). But, starting in 2000 (five years after the first sale of 1 million cell phones) is going up again. It's going up significantly after correction for growth of the older segment of the population.
And, by 2050, Alzheimer's is projected to bankrupt the USA.
I like the comment about PR firm employees. Read the book "Toxic Sludge is Good For You" for more on that.
The BioInititiative Report
Check out www.bioinitiative.org
The BioInitiative Report (Publ. 8/07) puts together all of the peer reviewed published studies which demonstrate the nonthermal bio effects from radio waves. Some of these studies demonstrate harm. Others do not. Most of the studies do demonstrate that the electromagnetic radiation from wireless devices cause cellular change. Again please note that this is for the non thermal effects. The standards set by industry and government only apply to the thermal effects.
This technology is being used in therapy. In therapy use it is controllled as to the frequency and the dosage and the beneficial effects are from the nonthermal effects. Our exposure to cell masts and wi-fi is not limited to a possible therapeutic level. The advice I have is to keep your cell phone off when not using it. Use a wired headset and keep the phone at least a foot from your body when it is on. Turn the wi-fi off. And get masts away from our homes and schools.
As someone who gets a full body muscle ache if I am exposed to wireless emissions for over a few hours I know it is causing me harm. Please keep in mind that the brain does not have pain receptors. Brain tumors are now the leading cause of cancer death in children in the U.S.A. At the very least, if you do not want to limit your own use, please do not expose children to cell phone, wi-fi and other wireless emissions.