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back to article Orange dismantles Bristol Tower of Doom

Orange has agreed to remove a mobile-phone base station from the top of a block which has become known as the "Tower of Doom", thanks to the high incidence of cancer amongst the elderly residents. So far, seven people in Berkeley House in Staple Hill, Bristol, have contracted cancer, with three dying. Never ones to let …

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Perhaps

Orange, Vodaphone, O2 and T-Mobile should all join together and remove (or turn off) the cells which cover the 'tower of doom'. Then we can all look forward to the local papers reporting about how bad mobile reception is in that area.

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Anonymous Coward

Evidence

"Never ones to let scientific evidence get in the way of uninformed opinion, the local residents have identified the mobile-phone base stations on top of their building as the cause of their problems."

There is no evidence that radio masts of GSM network can cause anything but a good reception when you live under or close to one.

But it does impact my buying motivation towards houses or appartements. I would never buy a house or app near one. Just in case they do find something wrong with radio antenna's.

DDT was also considered healthy, Asbestos, sigarets, Laser printers, ...

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By this logic...

when the mast has gone, and the elderly have died, it can be proved that the mast was, in fact, keeping them alive.

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Nimbys

Simple answer. Remove all mobile phone masts from Bristol. And anywahere elee people complain about them. In fact same as WiFi in schools. Don't replace it with anything, just remove them...

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Anonymous Coward

Here Comes The Rain

That last paragraph... wouldn't constitute Incitement to Religious Hatred now, would it? :-P

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Alternative explanation?

Is it possible that the 'high' incidence of cancer amongst the elderly is somehow due to the fact that they are, in fact, elderly and therefore their cellular repair mechanisms are getting a little worn out?

If my memory serves me correctly, isn't most of the radiation from mobile phone masts directed outwards, rather than downwards, what with them being constructed from directional antennae?

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Idiots

Most of the energy from a mobile mast is radiated outwards, not downwards. So if you want to dodge all those "harmful" mobile 'phone signals, being right under the antennae is not a bad place to be.

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oxo

Future not too bright

So on the heels of yesterdays story of the Orange MarketingTwatDepartment associating their company with smoking, now they do this brainless thing.

Obviously not a cool outfit to be associated with.

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Safe?

If mobile phone masts are so safe why are there loads of radiation warning signs around them?

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Happenned in my street

Orange erected a mast in my street, about 20m from me.

3 people within 50m have since had cancer.

Also The British Heart Foundation and Siemens in separate moves have removed all literature and references in publications to effects on pace makers from phone masts.

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Anonymous Coward

Lies, damn lies and statistics

As far as I'm aware, there has been no definitive, unquestionable, beyond-any-doubt ruling - when one study shows a positive result, another comes along and 'proves' the contrary.

To my mind, that means we really don't know.

Put it this way - would YOU be happy to have YOUR 1yr old daughter grow up to 18 living under such a mast? Are you THAT sure its safe? Thought not.

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Sillyness

It never fails to amaze me how we should never underestimate the collective stupidity of a large number of people when they get together.

My girlfriend lives in Staple Hill and I have an honours degree in computer networks, as such im directly exposed to the mindless, delusional propaganda and brainwashing which has been going on among these residents.

It has been driving me insane! I half expect to get brain cancer from all the clawing at my face and pulling of my hair in despair, at the collective stupidity which has gone on around this community over mobile phone masts and 802.11x despite any voice of reason!

Staple Hill: I cant be ar*ed any more, I give up and I pity you.

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Gnyaarrnngg!

So high incidences of cancer in elderly people in a dodgy old tower block. First port of call is to blame the mobile masts. Have they actually looked for any other causes ? Say the materials used in construction that may now be decaying and leaching carginogens left right and centre ?

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Anonymous Coward

Title

Why didn't they try convince the coffin dodgers that the mast would have helped them get better reception on the shopping channel, radio 2, 4, their hearing aids etc.

They were bound to go for that....

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re: Evidence

The righteous moral outrage of the residents says more than real evidence ever could.

Also, check yer facts on DDT. We'd have far less of a malaria problem worldwide now if people based that backlash on real science.

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Yes, there's a problem. How can we fix it?

I would suggest complaining to any media that distorted the situation, and/or giving feedback here: http://www.southglos.gov.uk/LocalDemocracy/LocalDemocComplaints/MakingAComplaint

It's all very well whipping up a little righteous outrage at NIMBYs who are either stupid or scientifically illiterate - but we probably won't influence many people if we keep it in the Register's comments, where most readers will just nod in agreement.

So, where are the most inaccurate media reports, and who should we contact to complain?

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Re: Rain

Nowadays, just about anything can constitute "Incitement to Religious Hatred" - including the fact that I just mentioned it.

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Uninformed oppinions...

... definately count more than scientific evidence or reason and logic. Do you think it was reason and logic which started witch hunts, crusades etc.? No, it was the huge wealth of stupid people on the planet.

And now things are getting worse, all thanks to democracy. Everyone thinks they have a right to have a say in how things are done. Especialy those who haven't got 2 brain cells to rub together. So some elderly people die, and they start looking for someone to blame. Could it have anything to do with the fact that they are elderly and their bodies cannot repair themselves anymore? No, that can't be it, that's only been happenning for as long as life has existed on this plannet. It must be the evil mobile phone mast. It's new, so it can't be trusted! KILL IT!! BURN IT!!! And KILL ALL THE NON-BELEIVERS, TO SAVE THEIR SOULS!!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

I've not heard of this Tower Of Doom.

Although I work in that part of Bristol, I've never heard anything bad about it. Nor have I heard of the tower of Doom. Maybe all the tower blocks in Bristol could be called Tower Of Doom though.

It's just the knee jerk Meedja reaction and flavour of the month. A couple of miles away there's a ruddy great big multipurpose antenna that dominates the sky line - why can't existing masts be used to house the mobile and wi-fi infrastructure?

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Turn 'em Off

Personally I'd turn off all the masts in the area for a year and see how the locals like having no mobile service. I bet within 6 months there's be petitions asking for new masts to be erected and the cancer rate would neither increase or decrease.

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Anonymous Coward

Building owner

The networks dont own the world, and whoever owns the building and takes the money from the networks to keep the masts there.

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Poison

It's not always possible to determine the long term effects on the environment by the introduction of man-made products. Very often the benefits outweigh the risks. DDT is, in fact, a case in point. This report should enlighten a few people.

http://www.acsh.org/healthissues/newsID.442/healthissue_detail.asp

I think cigarettes have always been viewed with suspicion and regrettably asbestos-related cancers took decades to appear. (Of course the asbestos companies didn't help their case by refuting the connection initially). As for laser printers... or maybe you mean the carbon toner inside....

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Anonymous Coward

Religious Hatred

Is hating religions religious hatred? :o)

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Get some frickin perspective

"Put it this way - would YOU be happy to have YOUR 1yr old daughter grow up to 18 living under such a mast? Are you THAT sure its safe? Thought not."

YES, the amount of radiation absorbed by living close to a mobile phone antenna is many orders of magnitude less than that of using a mobile phone. If mobile phone signals cause cancer, the PHONE is hundreds of times more dangerous than the mast.

Would you ban your child from having a mobile phone, because they will absorb more radiation from that in a year, than they will masts in their entire life.

IF phone signals do cause cancer (which they almost certainly don't) then the masts are the least of our worries.

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Okay

So how about T-Mobile sticking a 15 metre mobile mast at the bottom of my 80ft garden then? Try selling your house with one of those stuck there!

You can't oppose them unless they're in your primary view and you get no compensation for it reducing your house price by £30k either, all in all it's improved my life enormously.

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Meow

OK, so building has mobile phone mast and some people get cancer. By that logic and reasoning I would ban them all from having cats.....

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@andy gibson

They have radiation warning signs because they radiate, fool. I used to have an alarm clock with a radiation warning symbol on it however that does not mean I have to wear an NBC suit to go to bed.

Remember we live in a society where the mop buckets have to have wet floor signs on them because people are too stupid to realise that a mop and bucket means a wet floor is pretty likely.

Also why my microwave manual tells me not to use it for drying pets.

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Guy

How to tell if their a Witch

Have you learned nothing from drunken Monty Python marathons?

You don't determine a witch by ducking them in ponds, you weigh them to see if their the same weight as a duck.

'She turned me into a newt' ..... 'I got better'

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Anonymous Coward

It's basically an issue of disease prevalence

People are living longer due to better healthcare.

The longer people live, the higher the likelihood of their ultimate cause of death being cancer (assuming they haven't already whipped themselves into a frenzy over the latest scare story on the Jeremy Kyle show and had a heart attack first.)

It frankly makes no difference whether an oldie dies in a cave in Western Siberia, or kicks the bucket in their comfy chair in their tower block apartment (covered with phone masts for good measure) - if they have equal access to healthcare, food etc, and are of the same age and genetic profile, they both stand a similar chance of dying of cancer.

Though arguably the healthcare in Western Siberia would probably be better than that provided to the tower block resident.

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Anonymous Coward

joined up effort?

I thought vodafone and orange were joining up their infrastructure, so why are orange bothering to move the mast?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/02/08/orange_vodafone_network/

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Rob
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The likelihood is...

... that these residents used to work in an environment which used have some nasties like asbestos etc.

My uncle used to work on the railways as an engineer when he was younger, place is full of asbestos. Died about a year back from cancer which manifested itself about 2 years before that.

So not always linked to your immediate surroundings. Wonder what jobs the unfortunate souls who have got cancer used to be?

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Anonymous Coward

I can't believe...

...that El Reg missed the opportunities afforded by having this story written by someone called "Bill Ray"

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Cluster incidence

Cluster incidents , similar to this have has happened in many places in many buildings throughout this world of ours , where mobile phone towers have been erected.(Hint , why are high powered Airport Microwave Radar Transmitters are deliberately angled above the surrounding horizon on high towers with the absolute minimum power lobes sweeping ground level, and all terminal buildings and near by tall buildings where possible).

Many authorities routinely and deliberately use the word average to hide these incidents within the general population figures rather then face the music!

I recall in one such place , a relatively huge cluster spike of all forms of radiation induced cancers was in a place called Hanford , Washington State , which from 1943 produced all the material for a large number of first generation Nuclear Weapons , with non closed cycle direct river water cooling of the first generation Nuclear Reactors with the material created and processed initially on site and the pollutants diluted in waste cooling water which was released back into the river. Los Alamos was only the final assembly point and first testing point , as all the key ingredients came from places like Hanford! America it seems has accumulated at least some 8 million tonnes of nuclear waste and the stockpile is continuing to grow on a daily basis.

Several interesting books were written about a severe cluster of Radium poisoning of a group of female employees who painted the radium dots on clock dials and wrist watches in the period 1910 to 1935 in a place called Orange , New Jersey , like the "Radium Girls " to name but one of the many books written on the subject. sadly , the very first factory employee died in 1922 , and was the first of the many subsequent deaths from Radium poisoning, with many of these women being buried in lead lined coffins for obvious reasons!

We routinely use the word average , to hide all cluster spikes against the general population figures . where as a discerning mathematicians , actually uses bell curves by specific regions and towns to highlight trouble spots., because averages reveal very little information as to the true story of what is going on in any particular area!

So In the United States , numerous hot spots surrounding poorly maintained nuclear waste dumps like that in Hanford , Washington State or Nevada where unrestrained atmospheric testing took place between 1945 to 1963 , resulting in a huge cluster spike in long term residents of Los Vegas , including a large number of Hollywood films stars making assorted films like Westerns or for TV , which were often done on location in Nevada at the same time the US Military were playing with the Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Deliberately manipulated figures , are design to hide the truth in plain sight!

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds like they actually have a very low cancer rate there...

Statistics show that on a national basis 1/3 of all people will get some form of cancer during their lifetime...

If these are all old people close to the end of their lifespan, and they haven't had cancer yet, based on the statistics 1/3 of the block should have cancer!

If only a few have... then wow... must be a really safe place to live!

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DDT comparisons? Seriously??

I'm well aware of the ridiculous DDT notion, but I'm not convinced it's a good comparison. The argument boils down to "if" DDT turns out to be a definite carcinogen, it would still pale in comparison to the millions of malaria related deaths it prevented.

However, I think you'd struggle to show that wi-fi/mobile masts saved millions of lives a year (ignoring the indirect argument of being able to alert the emergency services).

Disclaimer - I'm not saying wifi is harmful or harmless. In fact I'm staying out of that one. I'd rather stick up for/criticise the iphone than get involved in that one.

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Anonymous Coward

Towers may actually protect from cancer

"As far as I'm aware, there has been no definitive, unquestionable, beyond-any-doubt ruling - when one study shows a positive result, another comes along and 'proves' the contrary."

There aren't ANY studies that show a positive result. All the studies of mobile phone masts are negative, no one has ever come up with evidence that they cause any harm.

The best that anyone has proven is that a mobile phone (not a mast, but a phone) warms the brain slightly, but that in itself isn't necessarily harmful.

If you're worried about radiation, a phone right next to your head is far more dangerous than a mast on top of your building. What's more, the further you live from the mast, the more radiation your phone will pump out so its signal can get through.

It may actually be safer to live nearer phone masts than further away, because they allow your phone to operate with lower levels of radiation.

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Maybe...

Maybe they should be looking for other sources... Radon, toxic chemicals. How about putting lab rats under a tower broadcasting at say, 10x the signal strength, vs. rats exposed to no radiation--as in a Faraday cage--this should yield at least some evidence as to whether there's something to worry about, or if the towers are safe.

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Anonymous Coward

Age?

The youngest person to get cancer was 63 (according to the Daily Mail, that bastion of truth and level headedness). The oldest was 89. I'd love to see what the other people died of. Radiation induced old age? Radiation induced heart attack? Radiation pushed them down the stairs?

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Radar

>>"(Hint , why are high powered Airport Microwave Radar Transmitters are deliberately angled above the surrounding horizon on high towers with the absolute minimum power lobes sweeping ground level, and all terminal buildings and near by tall buildings where possible)."

Because, hopefully, the sky is where the planes are?

Because airport radar transmitters are seriously powerful, in the hundreds of kilowatts to megawatt range, rather than maybe tens of watts for a cell transmitter?

Because the less ground gets hit, the less reflected-back noise needs filtering out?

I wouldn't want to sit in front of a lighthouse beam, or dry my hair with a hot-air-gun, but that doesn't mean that light bulbs or hairdryers are necessarily going to kill me, just that I have a limited ability to cope with energy.

>>"We routinely use the word average , to hide all cluster spikes against the general population figures . where as a discerning mathematicians , actually uses bell curves by specific regions and towns to highlight trouble spots., because averages reveal very little information as to the true story of what is going on in any particular area!"

A discerning mathematician would understand that there will be some geographical clustering occurring even if some property is randomly spread.

A discerning epidemiologist would wonder what the cancer incidence was before a claimed cause actually existed, and what the expected figure might be from national averages - merely knowing what it is in some unspecified time after the claimed cause arrives doesn't actually provide useful information. Even then, a deviation from the average can easily be just the result of random chance.

A discerning medic might ask what the cancers were. If one was lung cancer in a lifelong smoker, and another was cancer in someone with a serious family history, that might be rather less concerning than 3 rare and less explicable cancers happening.

A discerning engineer might measure signal strengths in various places in the building, as well as in various places around the town, and make some conclusions from that. If a cancer had arisen in someone living low down in the building where any transmitter output would have been attenuated to below average city levels by passing through N floors, *that* couldn't easily be attributed to the rooftop transmitter.

A discerning neurotic would hear "3 cancers" and then demand the removal of the transmitter without bothering to look any further. They probably already 'just knew' they were dangerous even before they heard any anecdotal evidence.

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Re: Cluster incidence

@!heystoopid:

"...why are high powered Airport Microwave Radar Transmitters are deliberately angled above the surrounding horizon on high towers ..."

Ummm... I'm just guessing here, but maybe it's because they're HIGH power...?

I'm hoping that you will agree that the output of a 100W (max) cell-phone tower is significantly lower than that of a 500KW air-traffic control radar.

The other minor detail about radar is that it's supposed to be looking UP AT THE SKY. Both ATC and local approach-control radars become much less useful if they're full of ground-clutter reflections and, if you avoid pointing them at the ground, you have less of a problem there, now don't you?

As to the "Radium Girls"; it's true that, in its early days, radioactiity was claimed to have health benefits (e.g.; health tonics with radium salts in solution, etc.) but my understanding is that the death rates of the Radium Girls was frequently due to their practice of licking the tips of their paintbrushes to get a nice point on them, thus ingesting minute amounts of radium, rather than merely because they were in its presence. Should they have been slapped upside the head and told never to do that again the first time it happened? Doubtless. But I believe that this is irrelevant because:

I believe that your main error, regarding your conflation of radio-mast radiation and nuclear radiation (and I'm sure that someone here will correct me if I'm wrong), is that the main risk from nuclear radiation is in the emission of alpha-particles (heliom nuclei stripped of their electrons - heavier and much more reactive than electrons) and gamma radiation (much higher frequency and energy than radio-band emissions). Radio-spectrum energy is electronic in nature, not nuclear, so the bulk of your post really has nothing to do with any actual or potential risks from cellular masts.

So, in the end, while all of your facts may be accurate, you appear to have managed to contribute nothing of actual value to this particular debate.

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@ andy gibson

"If mobile phone masts are so safe why are there loads of radiation warning signs around them?"

Because unscrupulous lawyers (sorry for the redundant phrase) will convince stupid/ignorant/greedy people to sue the owner/operator of the tower if they don't have signs posted all about warning people not to stand nearby, climb the tower and then jump off, or take the tower internally, you twat.

This comment is entirely my own opinion, and in no way does it imply that _El_Reg_ endorses my statement, nor that _El_Reg_ thigks "andy gibson" is a twat, even though he can't find the "Shift" key nor employ critical thinking skills.

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It's RADAR, idiot!

"why are high powered Airport Microwave Radar Transmitters are deliberately angled above the surrounding horizon on high towers with the absolute minimum power lobes sweeping ground level"

Because, you moron, microwave radiation at the power levels used for RADAR can cook unprotected flesh. Or perhaps you thought the magin ingredient in a *MICROWAVE* oven was phlogiston?

Dear Flying Spaghetti Monster in Heaven, please, please, PLEASE accelerate the rate of Darwinism in the human species!

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Epidemiology

It is important to understand the theory of epidemiology to understand the background and the effects of some of the suggestions.

Firstly, the massive amount of epidemiological research on mobile phone mast safety has been unable to find any concrete evidence of any effect. This doesn’t indicate that their safety is unknown, it actually indicates that if there is any effect then it must be less than X (where X is a very low risk) otherwise they would have found it. This doesn’t prove masts cannot cause illness it just says the rate must be at most very very low.

Secondly, the suggestion (and practise) of removing the mast is quite dangerous. It is highly likely that the cancer cluster has no cause and is just a random fluctuation. If this is the case then the future cancer rate is likely to fall to the national average and all the locals will pat themselves on the back and say what a good job they got rid of the mast. As long as the exposure to masts is reduced as a result of clusters this will help to reinforce people’s view that they cause problems.

In case you are interested there is an identical effect with speed cameras. The rules require a certain level of historical accidents to authorise the placing of cameras. This means that cameras placement is strongly biased towards being co-located with chance clusters of accidents. In following years the local authorities claim that the cameras have reduced the accident rate. When you correct the analysis to allow for the short-term accident rate influencing camera placement you discover that they have no discernible effect.

The important rule here is that any information used for making a decision about experimental conditions (ie location of a mast) cannot then be used in the analysis of the consequences. The people in Bristol have now made sure that their cancer cluster cannot be used to support their argument.

A Rational Human Being

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Electromagnetic radiation causes cancer

My wife got a mobile in December of 2004. In January of 2006 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. A clear connection.

Idiots confuse causality all the time. In Texas, the lege recently passed a law allowing municipalities to install red light cameras. And people whined that this would increase the incidence of rear end collisions. The cameras wouldn't cause it (dolts!). The tail gating and speeding would cause it, just like those same factors result in more intersection collisions due to people running red lights.

Causality, it's not just for breakfast, anymore.

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Family Jewels

Forget the masts what about the little mobile in your trouser pocket right next to the family jewels. :-)

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Not that I'd advocate genocide but,

Kill em all..

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Got much to much to worry about than this crap

For instance, do I go out in the sun more to help prevent myself from getting prostrate cancer, or do I stay in to prevent getting skin cancer.

I've come to the conclusion that everything gives you cancer so you might as well forget about it and enjoy life while you have it.

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In reply

In reply , well it looks like I will have to change the standard physics definition of Electro Magnetic Wave Theory for some.

Sadly, they did not explain why normally sane people in government positions of authority did such insane criminal and evil tests on the innocent resident population in Hanford all in the name of science.

Documentation exists as to cancer induced in users of various types of Police Radar Speed Guns with the business end pointed at the motorist , nor the sudden widespread adaptation of external remote camera units by all police forces and the hand gun has become a rarity ! Further recorded incidents of well above standard deviation rates of numerous Radio Transmitter technicians working on low powered units across the frequency spectrum as well!

Another similar incident to the above event was actually recorded in a floor just below an overloaded active cell tower , on the top floor of a building in Melbourne , Australia and affecting a small number of staff members in close proximity to the cell transmitter at an advanced school called R.M.I.T. , and you should have seen the authorities double take and the amount of total B.S. that emerged from their collective mouths and reverse blame game game finger pointing , it was truly a sight to behold !

Here is an interesting conundrum , back in the late nineteenth century it was noted a startling co-incidence between an early onset aggressive form of lung cancer and blue fibre asbestos ! Yet suprisingly that particular evil item was used as universal building product and boiler cladding and a spray on fire retardant for nearly one hundred years after that observation was discarded by the profiteers chasing the fast buck! Life is full of cruel ironies!

I would not be unsurprised that within less than a decade from now , of an EM radiation induced brain tumor spike from a popular mobile phone add on device , now being flogged worse then a dead horse will arise !

Such is life indeed.

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Re: Electromagnetic radiation causes cancer

"My wife got a mobile in December of 2004. In January of 2006 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. A clear connection."

And another one, I started working at a site near a cell phone tower in August 2005, in September 2006 I was diagnosed with colon cancer.

However my surgeon told me the tumor would have started 4 to 5 years ago, and 7 years ago I moved from a city with intense cell phone coverage to a country location with poor cell phone and switched from having my cell phone on 24/7 to only having it on 8/4. So maybe my tumor was triggered by a reduction on RF which had been killing all the bad stuff. Seems more logical than some of the other "rational" information presented.

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Inverse square law

The reason there's a warning sign is that if you climb up the mast when it's live and stand in front of a transmitting antenna, you might be exposed to an unacceptable level of RF energy.

The energy level decreases with the square of your distance from the site, so it's quite safe to be *outside* the area marked by signs.

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