Honestly, I’ve been waiting for this announcement. I just knew it was coming. In a federal study released last week, initial findings suggested that radio-frequency (RF) radiation, the type emitted by cellphones, can cause cancer.

The $25 million study which took two-and-a-half years, was conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), and showed that male rats- when exposed to two types of RF radiation- were significantly more likely (than unexposed rats) to develop a type of brain cancer called a glioma; in the US, 80 percent of about 25,000 malignant brain tumors diagnosed each year, are gliomas and malignant brain tumors are the most common cause of cancer deaths in those aged 15 to 39. They also had a higher chance of developing the rare, malignant form of tumor known as a schwannoma of the heart; schwannomas are tumors that originate in the nerve sheath and are rarely detected in the heart.

The poor darn rats (what we do to those guys!)  were exposed to the RF radiation frequencies from second generation phones (the standard when the study began), for about nine hours per day, for periods ranging from two months to the lifetime of the animal. The radiation level the rats received was not much different than what we are exposed to, when we use cell phones. And, as you may imagine, as the intensity of the radiation increased, so did the incidence of cancer in the rats. The highest radiation level used was five to seven times as strong as what humans typically receive while using a phone.

Gamma rays and x-rays, both ionizing radiation, have long been accepted as carcinogenic but the wireless industry has always noted that there was no known mechanism by which RF radiation caused cancer, this study seems to come to a different conclusion.

The findings of this study need to be taken into account and looked at seriously, according to Chris Portier, former associate director of the NTP because the NTP are known to do the best animal bioassays in the world. Past studies have been inconclusive because most suggested a connection between cellphone radiation only after the rodents were first exposed to toxic chemicals to induce tumors (which then grew in response to radiation exposure). However, this new study did nothing in advance to stimulate cancer in the animals.

From the Mother Jones article:

“The Food and Drug Administration, which is charged with regulating the health aspects of consumer products, says on its website that there is “no evidence linking cell phone use with the risk of brain tumors.” It does acknowledge some risk associated with carrying cell phones too close to the body, but only due to the phones’ heating effect.

The NTP findings cast doubt on that conclusion: The study was designed to control for heating effects by ensuring that the body temperature of the exposed rats increased by less than 1 degree Celsius. “Everyone expected this study to be negative,” a senior government radiation official told Microwave News, which was shown partial results from the study earlier this week. “Assuming that the exposures were carried out in a way that heating effects can be ruled out, then those who say that such [carcinogenic] effects found are impossible are wrong.”

So far, the only results that have been released have been those of the rats. And among the sexes, female rats fared better: they didn’t have significantly higher than normal cancer rates, while male rats (who received the highest radiation exposures) saw that 2 -3 percent contracted gliomas and 6-7 percent percent developed schwannoma tumors in their hearts- depending on the type of radiation used. Of the male rats in control groups, none developed those cancers.

What the authors of the study aren’t sure of is how their results might translate into cancer risk for humans. But, given that many, many people use wireless devices, this could have an impact on public health. While the wireless industry has confidently proclaimed that the science on cell phone safety is settled perhaps now they will have to take a second look and continue to encourage air tube headset usage.

Source: Mother Jones