Cancer Doctor Issues a Warning About Cell Phones, and Causes Panic

By Eliza Strickland | July 24, 2008 9:41 am

cell phonesThe director of a cancer research center in Pittsburgh issued a surprising warning to his staff yesterday, advising them to avoid using cell phones as much as possible, because of the possible risk of brain cancer. The memo was promptly leaked to the media, igniting a firestorm of debate over whether the ubiquitous devices are dangerous.

The claim from the Pittsburgh researcher, Ronald Herberman, was particularly unexpected because numerous academic studies have found no connection between cell phone use and the risk of brain tumors. But Herberman says he’s basing his alarm on early unpublished data. He says it takes too long to get answers from science and he believes people should take action now — especially when it comes to children. “Really at the heart of my concern is that we shouldn’t wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later,” Herberman said [AP].

The focus of debate is the small amount of electromagnetic radiation that cell phones emit. Some researchers argue that chronic exposure to this radiation may raise cancer risk, perhaps by heating brain tissue or damaging DNA. Many researchers worry about children’s exposure, because their skulls are thinner and their brains are still developing [Baltimore Sun].

But so far, large-scale studies have found no evidence to support this theory. An analysis by the University of Utah this year of thousands of brain tumour patients found no increased risk as a result of [cell phone] use, but added that the effects from long-term use “awaits confirmation by future studies”…. Recent Danish and French studies also found no increased risk of cancer [BBC News]. Still, people who wish to err on the side of caution can follow simple steps to minimize their exposure to cell phones’ electromagnetic radiation, like using a wireless headset and making longer phone calls from a landline.

Image: flickr/compujeramey 

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Technology
MORE ABOUT: cancer, cell phones, gadgets
  • Dave

    I started researching this subject a few months back, and much to my horror, found that I couldn’t really say these things are safe-at all!

    The issue deals with the increasing feeling among many scientists and
    people(mostly in other countries, where research is still funded for
    this) on the health concerns around all wireless (microwave-ie cell towers,
    cell phones, wifi and home wireleess networks)technology. If you haven’t
    seen much of this, there are educated people out there saying everyting
    from “It is perfectly safe to “This may be the medical armaggedon of our

    Quite a range of thought!

    One independent scientist who has studied this subject is well covered
    in the first link below. His name is Henry Lai, and he has cataloged a
    large number of studies on the subject-over half showing serious health
    concerns for humans. Also, I am providing links to a couple other
    related sites. There are dozens more that I could have sent.

    As the increse in wireless tech goes about unabated in the US, it seems
    like getting other opinions, and ones that might save lives if they are
    listened to, might not be such a bad idea.

    One thought to leave you with, and this is just my observation, and I am
    not a scientist. I purchased a radio frequencey meter a while back out
    of my concrn for this issue, and have measured a lot of cell towers with
    it. Based on measurements of the average cell tower, I would guess that many cell towers, incl one hear you, will have a ground reading measurement of 5 microwatts per cm squared coming off it near where you are(within 1/4 mile).

    That is as much as was used by the Russians during the Cold War to radiate the US Embassy in Russia, for the purpose of making the Ambassadors and families living there ill. Two successive Ambassadors got Lukemia, and many of the families became ill as well (this can be researched easily enough on the internet).

    That had always seemed like a real nasty thing to me, to attack in that
    way. Wouldn’t it be the story of the year, and a damn awful one, if it
    turns out that we are now doing it to ourselves?

    These technologies have not been tested properly, the precautionary
    principle has been ignored in their deployment, and every study I have
    seen done on actual populations(again, mostly in Europe)have shown
    serious health issues for those living near(within 1/4 mile of) cell
    towers-7 out of 7 studies-and NONE showing no problems.

    We need to stop questioning, that they are safe is clearly in “reasonable doubt”-the question now is what are we going to do about it.

    Credible answers?

    Keep cell phone use to a minimum.

    DO NOT give to children, or use near children often.

    Do not use wifi, or allow it to be used, for it creates second hand radiation, esp in homes or school. Legislate to prevent it’s spread.

    Tear town thousands of cell towers, adopting the guidelines of the 2000 International Cell Tower Siting Commitee. Relocate towers at a minimum of 1500 feet from homes and schools, and use ONE network for the telecoms that all providers share access to.

    Get rid of the 1996 telecom bill, which makes it illegal to try to stop the irradiation of you and your family and neighbors.

    Sue the telecoms and communities that are allowing this9just because that is how they will notice and change).

    Tell your loved ones to get wired and stay safe.

    Just some thoughts!


  • April

    The possibility of cell phones causing cancer has been in the news a lot lately. However, there has been no mention of cordless phones possibly causing cancer. Wouldn’t cordless phones emit radiation as well? Thanks in advance for any feedback.

  • Dave

    Dear April,

    I ran across one thing related to your question in my months of researching this-a study that claims increases in brain tumors for those who have been using portable phones for 10 years or more. This study was also recently referred to on the Larry King Live show as well.

    In general, people seem to think portable phones are safer than cell phones, but maybe not totally safe.

    All the best!

  • Stan Hartman

    Dave – cordless phones – at least the newer ones, the DECT 6 phones, are worse than cell phones, because they’re cheaper and don’t have smart power saver features, so they’re on full power all the time, and transmit to the base station (which adds its own radiation) all the time. Older ones, 900 MHz and before, are better because at least they’re not transmitting, except intermittently, except when you’re actually using them.

  • F.H.

    im doing ascience project and i just want to no some fatcs

  • Expandable Cordless Phone System

    Hey, Good post. I love anything to do with phones and technology etc, so posts like this prove interesting to me. Your site has been bookmarked. Thanks.

  • Brandon Sutton

    please post more info about this, it really helped my research


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