From Mast Sanity:
An international journal of surgery and neuroscience
Volume 70, Issue 5, Pages 445-446 (November 2008)
Cell phones more dangerous than cigarettes!
Ron Pawl, MD
In March of this year, Dr Vini G. Khurana, an Australian Neurosurgeon, made
news headlines declaring that, based on his research of the literature, the
long-term use of cell phones was leading to brain tumors and was more
dangerous to health than smoking cigarettes .
The relationship between exposure to electromagnetic fields (ELFs) and brain
tumor incidence has long been a subject of concern and research in the
neurosciences and oncology. However, until this last year, most studies have
failed to show a clear relationship between cell phone use and brain tumors
Then in April of 2007, Lennart Hardell, a professor of oncology and cancer
epidemiology at the University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden, along with 4
other authors published an article using case-controlled and cohort studies
that clearly demonstrates that the use of cell phones for 10 years or more
is associated with an increased risk for the development of glioma and
acoustic neuroma ipsilateral to the side where the phone was used .
Subsequently, in April of this year, the same authors published a
meta-analysis of several studies on the topic and also concluded that there
is a positive relationship between long-term cell phone use and ipsilateral
glioma and acoustic neuroma .
Needless to say, such findings are alarming. Cell phones are ubiquitous in
our society, and the numbers and use of such devices have increased
exponentially since being introduced in the mid-1980s. Furthermore, cell
phone use by teenagers and even preteens has also grown to become
commonplace. Obviously, exposure to ELF by cell phone use in the young might
even pose a greater threat because the changes caused by such exposure might
well be greater in the developing brain. However, it does not end there.
Other reports by Hardell et al indicate that the use of wireless handsets in
cordless home phones poses the same risk as cell phones , .
It should be true, if the forgoing findings are accurate, that there has
been an increase in the incidence of brain tumors over the last 25 years or
so. There are a number of published reports on the topic indicating a
definite increase in the incidence of brain tumors, particularly malignant
forms such as glioblastoma multiforme , , , , , .
Although some studies indicate a stable tumor rate  including during the
years after cell phone introduction . An increase in nerve sheath tumors
has also been reported . The statistical increase of tumors found in
these studies are somewhat modified, in some authors’ opinions, because of
the improved technology of diagnostic imaging, especially computed
tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, both introduced and advanced in
the same era , . However, the fact is that the incidence of gliomas,
especially the more malignant varieties, is increasing based on the now
numerous reports warrants action on the issue.
Hardell and his colleagues, along with other scientists, have formed the
Bioinitiative Working Group , which appears to be a spin-off of another
group, the Bioelectromagnetics Society . The mission of the
Bioelectromagnetics Society, as posted on their Web site, is to be the
international resource for excellence in scientific research, knowledge, and
understanding of the interaction of electromagnetic fields with biological
The Bioinitiative Group has produced a report called: ³A Rationale for a
Biologically-based Public Exposure Standard for Electromagnetic Fields (ELF
and RF ((Radio Frequency)))² . In that report, evidence for childhood
leukemia caused by exposure to power lines is addressed as well as the issue
of gliomas and acoustic neuromas caused by cell phone and cordless phone
use. They state, ³In summary we conclude that our review yielded a
consistent pattern of an increased risk for acoustic neuroma and glioma
after 10 (or more) years mobile phone use. We conclude that (the) current
standard for exposure to microwaves during mobile phone use is not safe for
long-term brain tumor risk and needs to be revised² .
The report further states, ³The existing FCC and international limits for
public and occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields and
radiofrequency radiation are not protective of public health. New
biologically based public and occupational exposures are recommended to
address bioeffects and potential adverse health effects of chronic exposure.
These effects are now widely reported to occur at exposure levels
significantly below most current national and international limits² .
It therefore behests our scientific societies to address this issue. There
is one caveat; that is, only one group, Hardell et al, have carried out
actual studies pertaining to the issue and found a clear relationship
between brain tumors and ELF. No other long-term studies have been carried
out; Dr Khurana’s warning is based on a review of literature only. It seems
that a cooperative effort by both the scientific community and state
governing bodies will be needed. Some spearhead is now necessary in view of
the magnitude and seriousness of the situation.
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Center for Pain Treatment and Rehabilitation, Lake Forest Hospital, Lake
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