Cell phone radiation linked to brain tumors, professor not buying it

Cell phone use could increase your chances of getting cancer, according to the recent book “Disconnected” by epidemiologist Devra Davis.

Davis analyzed results of past studies on cell phone radiation and said she found the risks are greatest for younger phone users who use their phones often. She wrote that radiation from cell phones could damage DNA and contribute to brain tumors.

Davis said the wireless industry’s fight of independent scientists’ research clouds the conclusions on the negative effects of cell phones, according to TIME.

“This is about the most important and unrecognized public health issue of our time,” Davis said in an interview with TIME.

But St. Thomas biology professor Kurt Illig said the article Davis uses to support her theory, which states there is a direct link between cell phones and cancer, is methodologically flawed.

“This article shows a positive correlation between the incidence of brain cancer in a given state and the number of cell phone subscriptions in that state,” he said in an e-mail. “It’s not surprising that New York has more cell phone subscriptions and more brain cancer than North Dakota does. Yet, this is precisely their finding.”

He said this correlation doesn’t mean that increased cell phone use leads to increased cancer.

“Although the authors say they address this with further analysis, they never directly or independently analyze the effect of cell phone use on brain cancer,” Illig said. He added that another flaw in the study is that the researchers only looked at the number of cell phone subscriptions, not the amount of cell phone use.

He said he has also looked at about five additional studies on cell phones and potential dangers, all of which were published in reputable journals.

“Each comes to the same conclusion: there is no evidence to support the idea that exposure to cell phones, or their signals, increases the risk of cancer (or any other maladies),” Illig said.

He said students should not change their cell phone habits since the research doesn’t support the idea that cell phones cause cancer. Some St. Thomas students said it would take more than one study or book to change their cell phone habits, anyway.

“One study wouldn’t change my mind,” said senior Carmen Weaver, who uses her cell phone at least once an hour each day. “If I read more than one thing I might think about it.”

Junior John Kosmach, who uses his cell phone “all the time,” said he would need to be faced with hard scientific evidence before finding alternate ways to get in touch with people.

“It’s my means of communication for everyone I know,” Kosmach said. “[Scientific evidence] wouldn’t really stop me.”

Jordan Osterman contributed to this article.

Katie Broadwell can be reached at klbroadwell@stthomas.edu.

5 Replies to “Cell phone radiation linked to brain tumors, professor not buying it”

  1. Also, recent studies have connected excessive wi-fi—especially personal units—to dry skin/radiation burns. Microwave ovens are also some risk, but the industry doesn’t want you to know that. Microwave ovens are banned in some countries, Russia among them.

  2. This is exactly the kind of scare tactic that media loves to produce so that they can create the news instead of reporting it. As Professor Illig points out the information is flawed and unconvincing. When there is a detailed study by knowledgeable and competent scientists with conclusive evidence, only then should the media report its findings, and not speculate on speculation just to create some news.

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