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back to article US politico calls for cancer warning on cell phones

There's no consensus among scientists whether mobile phones actually slow-cook human brains, but one US legislator is hoping her state will be the first frightened enough to assume they do. Maine state legislator Andrea Boland plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session that would require mobile handsets in the …

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Big Brother

High Grand Poobah should do, if you insist i have a title.

Well. while she's foaming at the mouth over "teh deadly cellphone radiations", can someone clue her in about the even more ubiquitous Dihydrogen Monoxide menace?

Fact: Dihydrogen monoxide has even recently been found in the blood of new born infants!

(You know, El Reg could really use an icon of the "screwloose" or "off their rocker" type... How about a cuckoo clock?)

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Sir

I know, it's a killer..

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1032795/Man-dies-water-overdose-drinking-17-pints-hours-soothe-sore-gums.html

Seriously, more* people die from DiHydrogen Monoxide poisoning than from Ecstacy.

Mind you, I once knew a bloke who went horseriding, whilst high on an E, and he also drank lots of this poison - yet he survived !

So you can't believe everything you read I suppose.

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Coat

incompete coverage, as usual

The register is remiss in not investigating how exactly cell phone brain cancer affects the Zombie-American community.

Does eating a cancerfied brain lead to ill health effects, e.g. an uneven gait, or inability to run? Can zombies who use cell phones get brain cancer directly? What are the effects of repeated text messages containing only the word "BRAINS"? Is Apple's promise of a Zombie section for the App Store going to ever be implemented? And for the gourmet zombies out there, what tastes better, brain cancer induced by GSM or brain cancer induced by CDMA?

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Terminator

typical

This is what happens to a perfectly normal megalomaniacal brain after prolonged exposure to politics.

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Warning: Life may cause brain cancer.

It is statisically provable that a portion of those who choose to partake in the game of life will contract brain cancer.

There is no cure.

There are however preventative measures that can be taken. Limit your use of life as soon as possible.

Those who are invovled in politics need not take any preventative measures, as they clearly are already dead. And if they're not, best to top them off first, just in case.

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Stop

Stop Selling Mobiles in Maine

If I was a mobile phone manufacturer, I'd consider simply not selling any more mobiles in Maine. The implications of such a decision should swiftly bring sense to Maine's state legislature.

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Anonymous Coward

what's this "phone call" thing you're talking about

When was the last time you actually called someone on these things?

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The Sun causes cancer.

We need to put a label on it.

And what about all the cancer caused by breathing the particulate output of cars? I think the MoFo lobby might be behind on its payments in certain states.

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There's no evidence for it ....

But it is scientific fact

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Chris Morris.

Sheer genius!

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Dear cousins

Dear cousins , can we export this politician to your home office? I hear you have a places for people like her .

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FAIL

Warning! The Surgeon General has determined...

that life causes cancer.

Yes, that's right. If you live long enough, you will eventually get cancer.

I wonder if Motorola has already started to put away funds for potential litigation...

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bmo
Big Brother

Megalomania

@eddy

America doesn't have a monopoly of megalomaniacs. Just look at Stephen Conroy.

Seig Heil, Stephen.

--

BMO

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Anonymous Coward

Well

I don't know if cell phones are causing an increase in cancers, but I'm pretty sure something is. Nothing wrong with a little more research. This woman is obviously overreacting, but there's enough going on here to be cautious.

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Something's causing an increase in cancers

Longer life spans, maybe? You have to die of something.

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Boffin

I know the cause

pepol not dieing of other things.

we have cured most of the reasions pepol died but we have not cured cancer so more pepol are dieing of it QED

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WTF?

...As a box of rocks...

So it's not only Kansas and Utah that are likely to not so much be related to monkeys, as surpassed by them, then?

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Flame

A child's brain?

What about a politician's brain? Easier to draw. An empty roundel with the barred-out "clue" text inside.

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Wi-Fi

It's easy to slag off this report an poke fun at everyone. What happened to informed debate on El Reg threads instead of tossers trying to compete in a joke competition?

I remember being taught in Physics many years ago about the dangers of microwave transmission used in line-of-site communications such as TV transmitter relays; and this was before microwave ovens were generally available in our kitchens.

For sure microwaves are a hazard to human health, and its not just about having sufficient wattage to fry. I reckon there may be a significant difference between the original 900 mhz band and the more recent trend to Ghz 1.8, 1.9, 2+ frequencies.

Let's not forgot wi-fi belting out all over the place at 2.4 Ghz and at significantly increasingly higher powers.

We can't be sure of the effects for another 20-30 years and by then it will be too late. So let's try and stop jacking ourselves off on the latest technological innovation and pretending we are immortal and instead take a far more measured approach.

But we won't, because we have mega corporations making the most amazing toys that we must all buy à la iphone and most of our scientists and officials are all so corrupted and blinded by money and jee-whiz toys that will do sweet fa. And even if they did then the rest of society would protest and vote them out at the next election.

So the moral of the story is to do your own analysis and make up your own mind, but don't be greedy, lazy and stupid in doing so.

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Wi-Fi by AC 22nd December 2009 10:30

No mate - you are wrong. There have been many studies, some taking data over 15 years or more - the bottom line is that there is no correlation between cancers and mobile phone use. Similarly, no correlation has been established for proximity to cellular base stations, WLAN access points, etc. There has been some correlation between childhood leukaemia and power distribution lines but it is difficult to isolate this from other factors.

" I reckon there may be a significant difference between the original 900 mhz band and the more recent trend to Ghz 1.8, 1.9, 2+ frequencies."

You "reckon" - based on what exactly?

This is what pisses people off so much: Someone comes along and says "I am not an expert and have no evidence but my Johnny gets headaches and I think it is due to <insert chosen technology>". Then a bunch of politicians and journalists jump on the idea, with a view to furthering their own careers. It is scaremongering, plain and simple. What is annoying is that when presented with several studies showing the absence of any correlation, the answer is always "you might have missed it", "your study might not be long enough",etc. - never, "we have a longer, better study which provides conclusive proof of a link".

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Non-ionising radiation...

.... is not capable of breaking chemical bonds or damaging DNA, the energy per photon is simply not high enough. The point at which this happens is in the UV light/X-ray spectrum so RF at a few GHz is simply not dangerous in this way.

The only known proven effect of RF is thermal, and microwave energy is only dangerous because you can look into an open waveguide and receive concentrated energy into the crystalline lens in the eye. This has no blood flow, so is more likely to be overheated by these thermal effects.

So, while there may be other effects, no one has yet managed to demonstrate them in a way that proves they exist using irrefutable evidence.

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I second that reply

And the post was anonymous. Let's also pick out the reference to microwave presumably intended to further the fear factor.

Kitchen microwaves are wrapped in a Faraday cage shown, over 150 years, to be effective at blocking electromagnetic radation. *If* a kitchen microwave oven is found to be defective it's probably not cancer that will alert you to a problem rather that savoury cooked meat smell. Oh, and a considerable amount of pain.

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You are so right

And I think all these jokers are too afraid to stop and think (or research the science) so they joke on. Anyone who's looked at the photos in Salford 2003 of an exposed rat brain will realize brain cell death is not a laughing matter.

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WTF?

You haven't read the studies then

Hardell et al have found a consistent link between brain tumors and cell phone use on the same side of the head in every analysis of data 10 years post exposure. Yes some studies find "no correlation" but most of those did not go out 10 years and had many other flaws. See Lloyd Morgan's 2009 analysis. There is also a link to tumors of the salivary gland. See the 2009 Cell phone & health Senate hearing on CSPAN for sworn testimony from researchers.

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FAIL

That is not the only known effect

How about the microwave hearing effect (Frey 1969)? The pearl-chain formation effect? Protein folding/unfolding (Bohr and Bohr). Calcium efflux from cell membranes. Blind studies showing sleep changes. Reaction time changes. Then the epidemiology showing tumors, sperm quality reduction, behavior problems. The consensus among non-industry funded researchers is given in the Benevento Resolution and other similar appeals.

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Boffin

Microwave ovens not RF tight

For static electric fields any conductive cage will work. For RF frequencies the better the conductivity, the better the shielding. All microwave ovens leak. Try using a 2.4 GHz phone or Wi-Fi computer right in front of a microwave oven with the oven on full (it still has a modest duty cycle, but you'll see the effect). They could shield ovens much better, but cheaper always wins as long as it meets the government spec which hasn't changed since the second generations ovens (the first generation made some people sick immediately). Put your cell phone in your microwave oven... unless your coverage is awful it will still work.

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Did you read the Bohr and Bohr paper, either?

To quote the Bohr and Bohr paper* which you mentioned,

"The microwave radiation was provided by a standard magnetron of a microwave oven operating at 2.45GHz and with a power of 800W."

Did you get that far before the equations scared you off?

If you expect microwave radiation to do something to proteins at anything less than the intensity required to cook breakfast, then you might want to learn about that tedious sciency stuff called physics that seems to throw a wrench in the works whenever this idiocy about cell phones comes up.

As for the rest of your list...sources, please, so that I may dig those up, too, and explain why they do nothing to establish that cell phones give you brain cancer.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If RF radiation is intense enough to do harm to you, you will know it, and you will probably be screaming, or at very least uncomfortably warm. It is NOT IONIZING, and if it is applying sufficient torsional force to molecules to affect biochemistry measurably, then it is probably cooking your eyeballs. Do you understand?

*Available via http://prola.aps.org/abstract/PRE/v61/i4/p4310_1

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Did you read them, either?

The research of Hardell et al. has been pretty roundly criticised for recall bias. These guys found people with brain cancer and gave them a questionnaire about how much they'd used cell phones. That's where this "consistent link" was identified. Surely, this is a perfectly sound means of collecting data that would never turn up false trends.

Fine and well that you can dig up a small handful of studies* like that. Now compare those to the body of research which found that, no, there doesn't appear to be a statistically significant correlation. What do you suppose "consensus among the scientific community" means?

*Study: A handy word for shuffling some lazy statistical analysis under the umbrella of science. If I had a dime for every time some looney said "there have been studies that prove X"...

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Anonymous Coward

I bet there's

also a correlation between right handed, and left handed people getting tumors on appropriate side of their brain. That could just be related to the operation of their brain, and the side of their head they hold their phone could be a complete coincidence!

Unfortunately, that's the problem with a correlation, it doesn't actually indicate or prove anything.

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can we also

mandate that all toilet stalls have a sign on the door saying 'beware of the leopard', after all one of them *might* contain a leopard.

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And...

On every other electrical item as well?

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The Case is Overwhelming, M'Lud

Ever seen a banker without a mobile clamped to his / her ear ?

'Nuff said.

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FAIL

Health/Wealth warning

This is a combined health/wealth warning.

US Politicos are dangerous to all known human life forms.

Should you come across one, you are advised to contact your nearest mental health unit who are specially trained in restraining outlandish and dangerous hand gestures and are equipped with ear muffs in order to drown out the unsubstantiated waffle and, "think of the children," emotive arguments that would otherwise instill fear and self doubt in to the minds of the untrained and unwary.

If you should come accross a US Politico running free, break up in to groups; they loose interest in lone prey but become agitated and energised when confronted with a group of people on whom they can inflict their ministrations.

At a last ditch resort, you have only one useful weapon available to you. A US Politico will shy away from any form of responsibility and become blustery and disorientated. Have a series of pre-written and pre-phrased questions in your pocket that you can use in an emergency. You don't need too many as the politico won't actually answer any of them, so you can safely repeat the same question ad infinitum and they will never actually be able to answer it.

Such questions include but are not limited to ... "Why hasn't tax exempt status been revoked for Scientology?"

Lastly, despite the potential desirability, do not under any circumstances be persuaded to keep one as a pet. These creatures are available on the black market but when it comes to entertaining chatter they go well beyond, "Polly wanna cracker."

Should you already have given in to temptation and have a politico at home, never feed it after midnight and definately, DEFINATELY don't leave one in the same room as a TV showing Nightline.

This has been a public service announcement.

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Stop

Consensus

"There's no consensus among scientists whether mobile phones actually slow-cook human brains"

Nono, there's plenty of consensus... Lets be clear. The detractors aren't scientists - even if they're technically qualified as, because all the evidence suggests there's no issue.

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Flame

You haven't read the studies then either

Salford 2003 shows there's a problem. All the research by Hardell et al. does too. Also the salivary gland tumor studies. Also the sleep studies (Arnetz et al. 2007). See Lloyd Morgan's 2009 analysis which looks at how the studies are done in detail. You are the one not being scientific.

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From Arnetz et al., 2007:

Here are a few gems for you, since you don't seem to be in the business of reading the papers you cite*.

"The exposure set up exposed the left head hemisphere to a GSM signal (884 MHz) at an average of 1.4W/kg..."

1.4W/kg seems a tad high for a cell phone. But we needn't fret about that mystery! If you take a look at their experimental setup, you might notice that the signal isn't actually provided by a cell-phone, but by some black brick the size of a paperback book, fitted to a test subject's head for three hours with some horrid contraption. And how do they know it affected sleep patterns?

"During the sessions participants carried out performance and memory tests, scored self-reported symptoms and state of mood. Discrete Likert-type scales were used in the symptom scoring questionnaires. Typically the ratings ranged from 1, indicating "not at all" to 7, "a high degree" or from "disagree strongly" to "agree strongly."

No confirmation bias here!

Would you please stop citing this rubbish? Do you live in Santa Fe, where people claim to be allergic to Wi-Fi and cite all manner of "studies" to "prove it"?

*Here it is, for anybody who wishes to read it: http://piers.mit.edu/piersonline/piers?volume=3&number=7&page=1148

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Paris Hilton

Not selling

"If I was a mobile phone manufacturer, I'd consider simply not selling any more mobiles in Maine"

Hey that's my what I'd do if I was Microsoft and Intel in the EU market idea... Thief! :p

Seriously could you imagine what would happen if they did that? It'd be armageddon..

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Label => Product Liability

This would leave the way open for people to sue the mobile phone manufacturers for damage that might have been done to them when using a mobile phone. The label would effectively make the manufacturers acknowledge a product liability for something that is unproven. If the law is passed, the manufacturers should withdraw their products from the area covered, stating that they do not accept the unproven allegations nor the liability.

Apparently, the lawmaker concerned earns a living as a self-employed title examiner and as a distributor of nutritional supplements. The excessive consumption of certain supplements, like some vitamins actually causes damage - perhaps she would agree that these products should carry warnings of those dangers, which, unlike the mobile phone radiation allegations, have been established scientifically.

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Anonymous Coward

Mobile cell sites

Did you know there is legislation on mobile phone cell sites limiting the amount of radiation they can give off, and the exposure you put people under from them? It's called ICNIRP, and has very strict guidelines about how long someone who works in telecoms can be exposed, and all the people who climb structures carry monitors to ensure they are not exposed to heightened levels.

These monitors are (generally) not set off by cell-site antennas, even if you were to wave them in front of the transmitters. Sit them next to a mobile phone and they go crazy. The burden of work is on the handset to find a signal, not the cell site to transmit one strong enough for all the handsets out there. That's why when you're not getting good coverage your battery drains faster cos the phone is working harder. And if there is limited coverage then your phone is working harder and pumping out more crap, either into to your head when you're using it, or in your trouser pocket when you're not. Perhaps birth rates will slowly start to drop as we blokes all fry our nads cos T-Mobile's coverage is sh1t.

@ previous AC - microwave ovens are pretty much faraday cages to keep everything inside where it should be

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Coat

ICNIRP is only good at regulating atomic reators...

and patio heater levels of microwave radiation...

the bio-med megacorps have stringent rules about using mobile phones in research and manufacturing plants, as it tends to stuff up thier gene splicing gear that uses calibrated ultra low levels of microwaves to chop up the base pairs.

using a mobile phone is as subtle as a daisy cutter (MOAB) dropped in the heart of a major city, its gonna be real messy, with lots of collateral damage that for the short term can be fixed but the damage will diffuse out and hang around causing long term effects that are difficult to measure from a distance.

there is a lot of very unhappy people in the states complaining about the 500ft+ tall cell phone towers over there, IBM has started to drop back on promoting wifi (probably as thier lawyers are murrmuring that there may be repercussons in the long term regarding this unprovan tech)

The crap that the industrys who have vested interests in this abuse of the microwave bands are pushing it as hard as the climate sceptics if not harder, as having 6 billion lawsuits is gonna ruin thier day, when it happens.

i'm off out to ASDA for more tin foil, still got some interior walls to line...

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Heart

An American's perspective

Who gives a f*ck about Maine?

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Paris Hilton

Bring it on

I've never been a fan of children having mobiles. Mostly because whenever I see mummy's little angel with one they've got a better bloody handset than I do. Whatever happened to a couple of tin cans and a bit string?

Paris cos way not enough Paris already for a thread about mobile phones.

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Bronze badge

A Health Warning on Cats ...

... would make more sense. There really does seem to be evidence that toxoplasmosis causes an increase in road traffic accidents because infection adversely affects reaction times.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC117239/

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2334/9/72

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Is RF Dangerous?

Seeing the comments on this story I felt a post coming on.

The proposal for legislation is IMHO another scare story, the FCC who certify all RF devices and force manufacturers to perform RF exposure assessments are already very concerned about someone proving RF is dangerous and their limits are too high (they might get sue'd).

Every device that is intended for operation from a user at less than 20cm requires SAR testing and requires a warning label on the product and the highest SAR measurement to be stated in the user manual. Anyone can go on the FCC website and see this information if they can find the FCC ID on the device.

The argument about microwave ovens needs some explanation, these operate at 2.45GHz and power levels upto 900W and yes they are faraday cage BUT with a door, most people would not even be aware there is any potential risk of RF leakage when using it. The door determines how well the RF energy is contained and if not cared for it will leak more but who would know but the microwave is only used for short periods so overall exposure will be quite low.

As for any proof of a problem, nobody actually knows so the message is precautionary i.e. be careful and try and keep usage low. We do know about the thermal effects of tissue heating but do not know if long term low level exposure causes problems, every piece of electronic equipment emits some RF energy to which people can be exposed - is this a problem who knows.

Personally I am not too bothered but would rather use a land line phone than a mobile but that might be cos i'm being tight :-)

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Flame

Oh no! LEAKAGE!

:D

Well, I certainly know my Tesco Value (no joke) micro has enough leakage to completely destroy my house's wifi when it's in use, so there's a good effective 100mW or so of interference there.

Still not worried, however. That's minuscule, and I'll happily stand next to it while my nosh heats up in the much more firey crucible of it's ~700w focussed rays. Wifi is even more minuscule than the said leakage. Mobiles are maybe on the level of the micro.

Funny that she's not worried about the mobile _masts_ (which protestors in the uk tend to be up in arms about, caring not for the inverse square law), or TV/radio transmitters and the heterodyne generators in every receiver (that's how the detector van allegedly picks up your set, kids), or cosmic rays, or sunlight.

As a former worker with actual ionising radiation in a medical setting - aka the bad stuff (and even then, the fairly minimal risks are far outweighed by the potential benefits when properly handled) - I will happily have a ten quid escrowed bet with y'all that jack shit will ever be proven on the subject of "non-ionising RF from mobile phones is biologically harmful". Walking outside on a summer's day to get a better signal is worse for you. The fact that it just so happens to be on the water-heating wavelength means very little when wearing a wooly hat will warm up the water in your brain more effectively... and there's that pesky circulatory system also.

If low-power RF itself actually had bad effects on your biological systems then we'd have had to turn off all terrestrial and satellite TV, radio, GPS, walkie talkie, military comms, radar, aviation beacon, etc etc etc transmitters a long, long time ago because of everyone around getting so sick.

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I don't know if mobile phones cause cancer

But I do know that if I'm talking to someone on a mobile in the time-honoured phone-to-ear fashion for more than a few minutes my ear becomes painfully hot. Which is why I use it on speaker these days, unless I'm on public transport in which case I use an earpiece.

Has anyone else noticed heating of the ear while using a mobile phone next to it for long calls?

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Warm Ear

Your ear maybe getting warm because your mobile phone is actually warm rather than this being the effect of the RF energy heating your ear tissue.

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