• 09 DEC 09
    • 0

    #1171: Media misreporting on the Danish mobile phone study/ so called protective effects

    It is amazing how extensive the media disinformation spin has been on the recent Danish Cancer Society study that claims that there has been no increase in brain tumour rates since the introduction of mobile phones in the Scandinavian countries. For example, On the December 7th Australian Channel 7 SUNRISE program, Dr. Ginni Mansberg called it a massive study absolutely free of taint from industry support or industry finance and then compared it to the industry funded Interphone study that she claimed also found the same results.

    Dr Mannberg should be more careful to get her facts accurate on just how taint-free the Danish study is. For example Lloyd Morgan mentions below that funding came from the “Danish Strategic Research Council” which lists among its goals “Commercialisation of research. Interaction between knowledge institutions and the business community. ” That, in my opinion is a somewhat tainted conflict of interest in funding and a number of surveys have found that funding sources can bias research outcomes. See Lloyd’s other comments below on further conflicts of interest with the Danish study.

    As for Mannberg’s claim that the 13 nation Interphone study had found the same results as the Danish study I wonder where she got that bit of misinformation from? We are all waiting on the final published Interphone results which may well find an increased risk of brain tumours after 10 years of mobile phone use. There may even be precautionary advice. Whatever the outcome may be with Interphone, Mannberg went out on a very long limb when she called it all “very assuring” (that there is no risk with adults using their mobile phones).

    Dr Mannberg also claimed that as brain tumours grow very quickly the theory is that if you don’t see an increase in the first 10 years “then we are almost there” (no risk). Wrong again, in order to see an increase of brain tumours in a large population 10 years is simply not enough as it may take 20-30 years for one to become apparent in a large population.

    To give credit to Dr. Mannberg, however, she did state that this study definitely was not relevant for children and mentioned that for children “the risk was pretty high” when compared to adults and that there was “nothing to reassure us” here.

    See video link:

    Here is the Daily News reporting on the Danish study:

    No link found between cell phone use and cancer in study of brain tumors
    By Cristina Kinon
    Friday, December 4th 2009, 2:50 PM

    Go ahead and dial: cancer rates haven’t jumped in the years since cell phones became mainstream, a new study found.

    There doesn’t appear to be a link between heavy cell phone use and cancer in adults, according to a new Scandinavian study. Researchers found that there was “no change” in the incidence of cancer rates between 1998 and 2003, compared with the previous two decades, according to a report in the UK”s Telegraph. The study, conducted by Dr. Isabelle Deltour of the Danish Cancer Society and her colleagues, focused on people in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden – all countries where cell phone use is high. The research was based on 59,984 brain tumor cases diagnosed between 1974 and 2003 among 16 million adults between the ages of 20 and 79 years old. “The [cause] of brain tumors is poorly understood,” according to Deltour”s research, which was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. “The only well-established risk factors – ionizing radiation and rare hereditary syndromes – account for a small proportion of brain tumor cases.” The study”s conclusion suggests that if there is a risk from regular cell phone use, it would take more than 5-10 years for a tumor to appear. According to the Telegraph, the World Health Organization is expected to soon release the results from a decade-long project that will suggest heavy cell phone users face a higher risk of developing brain tumors later in life.

    Commentary from Lloyd Morgan:

    This “study” is what I call a bamboozle study. That is, its intent (sadly successful) is to bamboozle the media.

    It continues to amaze me how easily the media is manipulated. The latest example is a study published on Dec. 3 that purports to find no increase in brain tumors from 1974 to 2003, thereby proving that cellphone do not cause brain tumors.

    Let me tell you more about this study:
    A quick glance finds the following language near the end of the text, “The lack of a detectable trend change in incidence rates up to 2003 in this study suggests that the induction period for brain tumors associated with mobile phone use exceeds 5 “” 10 years …,” Duh!! The induction period is at least 30 years and these authors know this.

    However, in the abstract (the summary of what the paper says), they state, “No change in incidence trends were observed from 1998 to 2003, the time when possible associations between mobile phone use and cancer risk would be informative about an induction period of 5 “” 10 years.” The authors KNOW that no solid tumor, particularly brain tumors, has such a short latency time. And, it is not until nearly the end of the paper where they qualify what is said in the abstract.

    Joachim Schüz, one of the authors is a notorious denier. He is the lead author of a study of Danish cellphone subscribers. This subscriber study, 100% funded by industry, purports to show that there is no risk of cancer, brain tumors, and various neurological problems (e.g., Alzheimer’s), from cellphone use. In fact what they found, but do not report, is a statistically significant protection from cancer, brain tumors and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s from cellphone use. When they report these protective results as “no risk” it is a lie (a lie of omission).

    Such protection is proof that the subscriber study is flawed , and I would suspect that industry intended it to be flawed.

    [Don’s comment: see below]

    This study is OUTRAGEOUS. I know all but one of the authors. Each is an apologist for industry.

    The funding comes from the “Danish Strategic Research Council” which lists among its goals “Commercialisation of research” and “Interaction between knowledge institutions and the business community. ”

    Following the source of the funding there is a note, “The study sponsor did not have any role in the design of the study; the collection, analysis, or interpretation of the data; the writing of the manuscript; or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.” This is a perfect example of what Shakespeare said so well, “The lady doth protest too loudly!”

    Don’s comment:
    There have been a number of cell phone studies finding an apparent protective effect they were not good news for the Industry. Consider the following two studies as a case in point:

    1) Dr. Pamela Sykes from Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia. conducted a study that involved exposing mice to GSM cell phone radiation at a power level of 4 Watts per kilogram (4W/Kg). The aim was to test for increased changes in DNA from the exposure. Her preliminary study findings, published in Radiation Research, November 2001, found that the exposed mice had in fact fewer DNA changes than expected. Although this could infer a beneficial or protective effect from the microwave exposure Sykes pointed out in her paper that some proven genotoxic agents can also express this same effect, suggesting that cell phone microwave exposure may be genotoxic. Sykes applied for further funding but it was denied and no further research was ever conducted. At the time a Motorola executive was advising the funding committee and it is likely his advice was not to continue this line of research.

    From Sykes’ preliminary findings it may be surmised that an apparent protective effect may be a longer term genotoxic effect. Not the sort of research that Motorola would want to follow up on….

    2) Research conducted by Dr. Ross Adey et al , and published in Cancer Research in April 2000 involved exposing Fisher laboratory rats to an RF signal simulating exposures that would be expected in the head of a digital mobile phone user. Overall, the two-year study showed a trend towards a reduced incidence of central nervous system (CNS) tumours in the exposed rats in comparison to unexposed controls, thus indicating a protective DNA repair effect from exposure. Although this could be considered as evidence of no connection between mobile phone use and brain tumours, Adey pointed out that that the findings needed to be followed up because they indicated a possible non-thermal (low-intensity) effect. To quote Adey “[T]here is considerable evidence in the literature to support the suggestion that low frequency modulated radiofrequency fields are capable of interacting with biological systems when applied at athermal (non-thermal) levels, involving interactions with key messenger and growth regulating enzyme systems.” Adey went on to explain that the findings of the study were consistent with an action of the RF fields in lowering tumour incidence and suggested further research into non-thermal exposures. These suggestions cast doubt on mobile phone industry”s assertion that athermal (low intensity) RF exposures were of no consequence, as there could be no interaction with biological tissue at levels that did not cause heating. Adey”s request to Motorola for further funding to do a replication was refused. Motorola then confiscated all the essential equipment, including field generators and exposure chambers. Adey stated in a sworn affidavit this was done “to ensure that we could not pursue any further studies”.

    This way Motorola could claim that this line of research has unimportant as it was not able to be replicated! This is the sort of underhanded manipulation that occurs when industry has influence over the science and so any claim that the latest Danish study was absolutely free of industry influence must be critically examined.


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