#598: Latest Danish cell phone study: Giving the industry what they paid for
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#598: Latest Danish cell phone study: Giving the industry what they paid for
Here’s the latest in industry funded cell phone studies that claim to have the final answer. When you see statements like “There’s really no biological basis for you to be concerned about radio waves,” and “people can become more reassured that these devices are safe” you can be sure the cell phone industry is paying the piper.
See George Carlo’s interesting (to say the least) comments to Robert Reidlinger on this study following the Associated Press report.
Study finds no cancer risk from cellphones
Dec. 5, 2006. 03:46 PM
WASHINGTON “” A huge study from Denmark offers the latest reassurance that cellphones don’t trigger cancer.
Scientists tracked 420,000 Danish cellphone users, including 52,000 who had gabbed on the gadgets for 10 years or more, and some who started using them 21 years ago.
They matched phone records to the famed Danish Cancer Registry that records every citizen who gets the disease “” and reported Tuesday that cellphone callers are no more likely than anyone else to suffer a range of cancer types.
The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is the largest yet to find no bad news about the safety of cell phones and the radiofrequency energy they emit.
But even the lead researcher doubts it will end the debate.
“There’s really no biological basis for you to be concerned about radio waves,” said John Boice, a Vanderbilt University professor and scientific director of the International Epidemiology Institute in Rockville, Md. “Nonetheless, people are.”
So Boice and colleagues at Copenhagen’s Danish Cancer Society plan to continue tracking the Danish callers until at least some have used the phones for 30 years.
This so-called Danish cohort “is probably the strongest study out there because of the outstanding registries they keep,” said Joshua Muscat of Pennsylvania State University, who also has studied cell phones and cancer.
“As the body of evidence accumulates, people can become more reassured that these devices are safe, but the final word is not there yet,” Muscat added.
Cellphones beam radiofrequency energy that can penetrate the brain’s outer edge, raising questions about cancers of the head and neck, brain tumours or leukemia. Most research has found no risk, but a few studies have raised questions. And while U.S. health officials insist the evidence shows no real reason for concern, they don’t give the phones a definitive clean bill of health, either, pending long-term data on slow-growing cancers.
For the latest study, personal identification numbers assigned to each Dane at birth allowed researchers to match people who began using cell phones between 1982 and 1995 with cancer records.
Among 420,000 callers tracked through 2002, there were 14,249 cancers diagnosed “” fewer than the 15,001 predicted from national cancer rates. Nor did the study find increased risks for any specific tumour type.
George Carlo on the above study:
(Commenting to Robert Reidlinger)
I have some very unique personal insight that I would like to share.
Indeed, John Boice and his colleagues have been on the cell phone industry payroll, and for big money, since the late 1990’s. The money laundering vehicle is the International Epidemiology Institute — the name sounds like a non-profit by design, but make no mistake, this is a big for-profit enterprise. When I ran the WTR, the International Epidemiology Institute, with Boice and a fellow named Joe McLaughlin, applied for funding to do this exact epidemiology study that was released this week. After much discussion within the WTR, they were refused funding because I felt they were blatantly biased and had overtly given us the notion that they would always create findings that were favorable to the industry. They thought that is what we wanted in the WTR — they thought they were playing to the audience. But, they were wrong. When we refused to give them funding to do work, they went directly to the industry with the same pitch, and were hired. They were able to make good on their pitch of being able to put “put all of this under the radar” by further laundering the industry support money through the Danish Cancer Registry. This is the pitch that was given to me personally and directly. I still have their proposal.
The study released this week is the second such study with the same “spin on the findings” from this group of investigators. In 2001, they also had “one of the largest studies to date”, and Boice went on a bit of a television tour — paid directly by the industry — to blunt the effects of my Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age book tour. I faced off with him a couple of times on T.V. most notabley on John Gibson’s news show on MSNBC. It is interesting that MSNBC is also asleep at the switch on this one.
Interestingly, the other person quoted in the news reports on this study — and I am certain his name was given in the press package released by the industry for the study as that is common practice to make sure there is “independent corroboration” — is Joshua Muscat. Muscat worked for me under the WTR. Muscat blatantly changed his data after his studies were completed under pressure from the industry. Specifically, Muscat’s work — peer reviewed and completed according to a specific protocol under the WTR — identified a near tripling in the risk neuroepithelial tumors and a correlation between the side of the head where the phones were used and the side of the head where the tumor was located that were both statistically significant. I speak of these findings in my “Cell Phones” book because they were the findings in the final peer-reviewed report of the data. The findings of a statistically significant increase in neuroepithelial tumors and significant tumor laterality concordance were the official findings of the WTR. However, the industry hired an epidemiologist named Linda Erdreich to participate in the peer review. Under her influence, Muscat’s data “mysteriously” changed — not once, but twice. First, in the report Muscat gave at the Second State of the Science Colloquium — and published in the book that contains all of the papers presented at the Long Beach Colloquium in June 1999 — the statistically significant correlation between side of the head where tumors were and side of the head where phones were used disappeared. Then, yet again, in the paper that he submitted to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the data were further altered so that the statistically significant increase in tumor risk disappeared as well. Both of these alterations in the data were flagrant breaches of the peer-reviewed scientific protocols that were intended to guide that research. In a letter to the editor of JAMA before the study was published, I pointed these inconcistencies out and indicated that I was the funder of the study. The journal ignored the letter and went forward with the publication. Clearly, the industry carefully orchestrated the Muscat fraud so that the data that were “published” in JAMA carried no statistical significance. The press release for that study carried the “no statistical findings” heading. Of course, all of these data manipulations are evident in published papers, but no one has chosen to raise the issue in the media.
Interestingly, when the Muscat JAMA study was released in January 2001, there was another “high credibility” companion paper released in the industry package along with it to support the “no cancer from cell phones” spin. That study, done by Inskip et al., was realeased two weeks early at the request of the industry, so that there would appear to be two leading journals debunking the cell phone-cancer hypothesis at the same time. They were all bundled into one package that was sprung on me one night when I was being interviewed by Dan Rather of CBS News. In that paper, Inskip himself pointed out that the study did not any tumors that were within the range of exposure to the cell phone near field plume. However, even with the admitted shortcoming that the data were only marginally relevant to actual cell phone induced radiation exposures, it was lauded as another cell phone safety harbinger in the press package. And, who was that Journal who agreed to release the study early under pressure from the cell phone industry? You guessed it, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. And, who had just left the payroll of the National Cancer Institute who runs the journal at the time? You guessed it — John Boice.
Finally, also now circulating in the press package as part of this latest study are comments from Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society. He is using this as an entre to get in the news to raise some money for ACS. His take — the studies show no risk. Of course, what people don’t know is that in 2002, scientists from the American Cancer Society testified in brain cancer litigation in Federal Court in Baltimore, Maryland on behalf of the cell phone industry. They would want you to believe that no one was paid for that testimony. However, shortly after that, a report was released by the American Cancer Society that included cells phones as one of the greatest cancer myths. So blatant was this connection between the American Cancer Society and the cell phone industry, that last year, when Sanjay Gupta of CNN ran a story about the belief of Johnnie Cochran’s surgeon that his fatal brain tumor was due to his cell phone use, the industry did not even reply in the story. Instead, they simply referred to and quoted the American Cancer Society’s report on cell phones being one of the cancer myths. Thus, they used the American Cancer Society paper as a public relations shield.
Everything I say here is fully documented by publicly available information. But, it is so diffuse that it is difficult for folks to connect the dots. Inexplicably, there remains a peculiar absence of investigative journalists who are working on uncovering the full breadth and depth of the industry’s orchestrated manipulation program. Where are Woodward and Bernstein when you need them?
Am I callling out some very prestigious groups and openly showing their conspicuous unethical behavior, questionable integrity and disregard for public health? You bet I am. The Danish Cancer Registry, John Boice, Joshua Muscat, Michael Thun, Linda Erdreich, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Cancer Society have ties to the telecommuncations industry that compromise their ability to provide meaningful information on this important public health issue. As sad as it is, this is a “follow the money” exercise that is yet another example of public health being compromised by industry subterfuge.
Please feel free to pass this word.
Dr. George L. Carlo
Science and Public Policy Institute
1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW — 7th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20004