• 23 JUL 09
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    #1098: ICNIRP moves to protect the cell phone industry

    The below analysis from Cindy Sage raises the question on why has ICNIRP (and IEMFP who does the risk assessments for ICNIRP) moved to release its risk cell phone assessment before the Interphone report is published. It would have seemed better to have waited until Interphone was published and then include that in the risk assessment. This is typical for ICNIRP and works out to be a tremendous gift to the cell phone industry. I wonder how much of a ‘hidden hand’ the cell phone industry had in the writing of this report, especially seeing how the power industry was earlier directly involved in the drafting of a power-frequency risk assessment. See: http://www.emfacts.com/papers/who_conflict.pdf


    From Cindy Sage, CHE-EMF Working Group:

    ICNIRP Releases Study of Cell Phone Risk Before the full Final Interphone Report is Published

    ICNIRP”s Standing Committee on Epidemiology has published a paper in the Journal Epidemiology on cell phone-brain tumor risks. It has been published just before the expected publication date of the Final Interphone Study. Several of the ICNIRP authors are also Interphone Study Group members, raising the issue of whether the timing of this article is intended to pre-empt Interphone Final Report findings. If so, it will certainly muddy the waters about the message.

    The ICNIRP article dismisses cell phone-brain tumor risks and gives an “all clear” message. Early indications from the Interphone Study Group members shows deep divide in opinion about how to interpret the 13-country Interphone results. Some Interphone members have publicly indicated they do see increased risk of malignant brain tumors at 10 years and longer “” and that shorter study periods would not be expected to reveal risk because brain tumors take longer to show up. Others, including the authors of this paper in Epidemiology have been vocal in print and press in denying any link.

    The ICNIRP article in Epidemiology says there is “no causal evidence” of risk, This is not the question we want answered”” the question is “do the data indicate the possibility of risk” with long-term (10 years or more) cell phone use. Answering the question “” are we CERTAIN that cell phone use “” means that until there is proof, there is no pronouncement of possible risk that might lead to precautionary action, thus helping the public to make changes while they have time to do so.

    How might this negatively affect the acceptance of the full Final Interphone Report? The manner in which the world press covers this topic? How will it affect the message to the public? More confusion? More delay in taking reasonable and easy precautionary action? The EC has invested millions of Euros, and delayed any real precautionary action now for years “” awaiting the results.

    What IS interesting is how these authors circumvented addressing the positive results (results showing increased risk of glioma at 10 years and longer).

    Some examples:

    “Most studies of glioma show small increased or decreased risks among users, although a subset of studies show appreciably elevated risks.” “We considered methodologic features that might explain the deviant results, but found no clear explanation.”

    This acknowledges that a subset of studies show appreciably elevated risks, Then, inexplicably, these appreciably elevated risks are dismissed as deviant results. If you are looking to study whether cell phone use is associated with increased risk of glioma, and you find them, why would you then dismiss them as “deviant results”?

    “the available data do not suggest a causal association between mobile phone use and fast-growing tumors such as malignant glioma in adults (at least for tumors with short induction periods.”

    Why would anyone expect to see anything with short induction periods anyway? And why set the bar so high – to find causal evidence or nothing at all? Why not report the evidence that is revealed? The authors seem use the short-term latency data as a ruse to distract from looking at longer-term data that would be expected to show health risks. To muddy the take-home message and be able to say “see, no effect”.

    “despite limited data on long latency and long-term use” do not suggest a causal association between mobile phone use and fast-growing tumors such as malignant glioma in adults (at least for tumors with short induction periods)”.

    Again, here is the feint. No short latency effects.

    “For slow-growing tumors such as meningioma and acoustic neuroma, as well as for glioma among long-term users, the absence of association reported thus far is less conclusive because the observation period has been too short.”

    Glioma has been reported to be increased in every instance (every individual Interphone study released to date where the latency is 10 years or longer. and in other published studies of glioma and cell phone use, including Kan et al, and Hardell et al.) So, the observation period has NOT been too short for the multiple studies reporting increased risks.

    “ Overall the studies published to date do not demonstrate an increased risk within approximately 10 years of use for any tumor of the brain or any other head tumor.”

    This supposition only works if you ignore the studies that DO have 10 years and longer latency periods. Those all report elevated risks of glioma. Kan et al., (2007) and Hardell et al., (2009) meta-analyses using 10 years and longer latency show statistically significant increased risk for glioma,

    Ahlbom, Anders; Feychting, Maria; Green, Adele; Kheifets, Leeka; Savitz, David A.; Swerdlow, Anthony J.; ICNIRP (International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) Standing Committee on Epidemiology, Epidemiologic Evidence on Mobile Phones and Tumor Risk: A Review. Epidemiology Volume 20, Number 5, September 2009

    The International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation (ICNIRP) is the body that develops public safety standards for exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) including radiofrequency and microwave radiation from wireless technologies and devices.

    Commentary by Cindy Sage, MA
    July 22, 2009
    CHE-EMF Working Group

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