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Red alert! The cellphone warning has been issued

July 23, 2008 |  5:05 pm

Newcellphone Now he's done it. Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, has said what no one else would -- no cancer experts anyway. Herberman told his faculty and staff today that they should limit their use of cellphones. Why? They might increase the risk of cancer.

Here's the AP story: Pittsburgh cancer center warns of cellphone risks. In it he says, essentially, that he'd rather be safe than sorry.

Other doctors have been more reluctant to warn against the devices, saying there's just not enough solid evidence to warrant full-fledged alarm.

Here's a recent review of the data from Health reporter Shari Roan: Cancer risk from cellphone use is still a matter of study. This was published just a couple of weeks ago when that pesky new California law took effect. 

Ah, well, if you're gonna panic, do it wisely. Here are some tips, which accompanied the earlier story, on how to reduce one's exposure to cellphones' radio-frequency emissions.

* Use cellphones for short conversations or when a conventional phone isn't available.

* Use a hands-free device that will place more distance between the cellphone's antenna and your head. The antenna emits radio-frequency waves. And your brain lies just beyond your ears.

* Limit children's cellphone use -- both to reduce their exposure at a time when their brains are still developing and to reduce their lifetime exposure. (Unlike us, they still have a lot of years left.)

* In the car, use an external antenna mounted outside the vehicle.

* Keep the phone away from your body when it's turned on. Sure, it's adorable, but you don't need to hold it all the time. Nor do you need, if you're the more manly type, to clip it to your belt.

* Check your phone's SAR value at the Federal Communications Commission website. This value, for Specific Absorption Rate, is the amount of radio-frequency absorbed from the phone into the user's tissues.

In the meantime, I guess we'll wait on proof.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: STR / AFP / Getty Images

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Comments (34)

Excellent news, hopefully all the morons who broadcast the excruciating details of their lives everywhere they go will be killed off soon.

My god I new it!
We are an evil species.

The article forget to mention that the new iPhone 3G has an anti-radiation shield, but it costs extra. The iShield is made from pure gold (not lead) and shaped like an apple--10 inches thick.

Apple Does It Again--for a price!

Even if scientists found definitive proof of cell phones causing cancer I seriously doubt any of these phone heads are going to stop using them. They'd rather risk their lives than miss endless opportunities to tell the whole world just how important they are.

How can a scientist made this sort of warnings without proof?

i love how people say "there's not enough evidence to support a full fledged fact..".that doesnt mean its not worth exercising caution. same with global warming. "oh there is not enough evidence to support the fact of global warming" doesnt mean it isnt happening it just means we havent PROVEN it. the evidence is mounting fast though.
The whole idea of the scientific method is to DISPROVE a theory. its a rigorous system developed to discourage fallacies by lazy research.

Anyone with an IQ over 50 knows that cancer can be cured if it has not been already. If we can lob an h-bomb through a keyhole in Bejieng, we can certainly cure cancer. And what of the multi-trillion dollar oncology industry? Imagine the financial chaos if, once diagnosed with the big C, one could get a shot or take a pill and the disease is gone. But what would that extinct industry do then? And what do they have to do with blocking a cure?

scary! but at least now I have someone backing to my decision not to use my cellphone. people don't take kindly to non-cellphone users. back to the days of privacy and homephones!

Isnt' a headset bluetooth emitting radio frequencies too? I guess a cordless might be too. I wonder the difference in cell phones vs these other things.

There also has to be a certain number of at-risk phones and safe phones. I remember my first cell phone, the sprint qualcomm brick phone. It actually used to heat up my brain and give me a headache. I'm not joking. I could feel it doing something inside my head.

Thank god that phone is gone, my razr hasn't been nearly as annoying.

Agreed, Alvin. Natural selection can be a beautiful thing. If only it would work more quickly.

Don't believe the hype!

My brother Rob died of anaplastic astrocytoma (brain tumors) in March of 2007 at the age of fifty. For fifteen years he was required to use a cell phone to conduct business, often for many hours a day. At least two of his brain tumor specialists (one nationally renowned) said cell phone usage was very possibly the cause of the tumors. The specialists expressed certitude that in the future cell phones will be the cause of increased cases of brain tumors in the U.S. One specialist will not hold a cell phone to his ear and requests that all his family members and friends do likewise. Our family reunion this year was not the same without Rob. His wife and three daughters, the youngest only fourteen, miss him terribly. Take it from me-and the specialists-it's better to be safe than sorry.

This is complete BS. Take a radio frequency detector, RF detector, and go around your house and measure the waves that come out of your appliances, electrical cords and cell phone and see which have more high powered waves than your cell phone. The sun sends off waves continuously. we have been exposed to these waves since we were born. We need to put this into perspective. When you walk out in the sun you get way more waves from the sun than your phone.

I'm a Bioengineer and have been fortunate enough to study both the biology underlying cancer and the physics of electromagnetic radiation and it's interaction with biological molecules. I can say with confidence that there is no way cellphone use contributes to cancer. There is no reasonable mechanism to explain how low frequency radiation could cause cancer - none. I'll repeat that: no one can come up with any even theoretically possible way in which cell phone radiation could possibly cause cancer. Also, there is no significant statistical evidence that the two are correlated and it's been studied plenty. Without observing that it happens or coming up with some plausible reason for expecting it, taking it seriously is absurd.

The only known way electromagnetic radiation causes cancer is if it has enough energy to break a covalent bond (i.e. DNA). Ultraviolet radiation, X-rays, and gamma rays all emit high energy photons that break covalent bonds. Anything below light does not have enough energy, and cellphone radio waves are way below the energy of light. Low energy photons can only warm up things they hit, and we have sensors to tell us if we are being warmed up too much. To put this in perspective, it is statistically more likely that a gnat will break a window by flying into it than the photons being emitted from a cell phone will damage a DNA molecule.

If you really want to err on the safe side, then I'd just like to remind you that it has not been disproven that not sending me money contributes to brain cancer. You might want to just play it safe and send me money then. (Though it should be obvious, this is just a joke... like Dr. Herberman's warning).

People such as myself who have worked for major cell phone manufacturers have known it for years. You should see the crazy stuff they have rigged up in their R&D sites just for testing SAR.

Signal strength drops with the square of the distance so anything that increases distance to your head is good.
If there is a problem it will be a cumulative effect that may take decades to show up. The greatest concern is for kids. We don't want to enroll them in an experiment whose results won't be known until they're 30.

Cancer.......Um hello. Have you seen the you tube video where 4 cell phones dialing together can pop a kernel of popcorn!!!!!!

Yeah it definitely causes cancer!!!!!!!

Cell phones simply open the gate. Its the poisons in the yard that cause the cancer. Open the gate, let out the poison. The poison resides on the far side of the blood brain barrier. The poison migrates across the barrier through the opened gate. It takes two variables, em-radiation and man-made poisons, that is why they can claim safety, neither one by itself manifests quickly - together they can cause cancer in accelerated mode.

I have been using Cellular phones since the 80's. Back then, 5 watts was the standard. Since then phones are around 600mw. There just isn't enough power to cause damage. That's why there is no proof. Besides, different waves and much higher intensity are around us all the time and they don't hurt us. What's next? Our Plasma and LCD tv's cause impotence?

This is not new story. Cellphone warning hasn't proved but it may be harmful to human body.
I watched a TV program saying bees are being disappeared without any special reasons and it may be result of using wireless phone, cell phone.

The largest study on this issue was done by the danish government on over 420,000 people including more than 52,000 with 10 years or more of exposure. They failed to prove any statistical link between cell phone and any form of brain cancer, in fact the numbers were slightly less than expected in the general population.

There have been lots of unsupported claims of technologies that cause cancer, High voltage lines, silicon breast implants, microwaves, crt monitors. Most are eventually shown to be false.

While it is nearly impossible to prove a negative, it is relatively simple to prove a positive. If someone can link a study that shows an actual causal relationship that is more compelling than the massive Danish Study I'd be interested, otherwise this is a junk article.

Here's the official cancer institute's statement on cell phone usage.


OK folks, listen up:

1) Scott: those YouTube videos of people popping corn with their cell phones -- they were all a hoax, and the creator already fessed up. The popping corn was superimposed in the scenes.

2) Bonnie: yes, other appliances do give off higher levels of radiation. But you don't walk around all day with your blender or TV set attached to the side of your head.

3) Dr. Wes: sorry to nitpick, but ultraviolet rays, x-rays and gamma rays do not give off photons. They *are* photons. And while you are 100% correct that the energy of UHF is only a fraction of the energy of visible light and higher frequencies, can you be certain that high amounts of low energy radiation doesn't have the same effect on the body as small amounts of high energy radiation (1 whack with a hammer vs. 1000 whacks with a toothpick)? I don't know the answer to that.

Wes: please look up "calcium efflux" and the work of Dr. Andrew Goldsworthy. Burst-transmissions of microwaves (like from cellphones) rip calcium off of cell membranes (both inside and outside of cells) thus releasing digestive enzymes onto DNA from compartments inside the cell. That's a mechanism of how DNA damage can happen at very low signal intensities.
There are more non-thermal mechanisms of damage from microwaves but the above has been well established. Look up the BioInitiative report on the web for the latest in-depth review of the science.

Bonnie: evolution has equipped us to cope very well with sun radiation and most natural radiation. Man-made pulsing microwaves from cellphones, have only been widespread for 20 years so we have no evolved self-protection against that kind of "new" (on a evolutionary timescale) radiation. Apart from the above, cells react with stress to low-level microwaves.

Jersey Bob - Thank you for the response to Bonnie. It was extra funny. That's all , I just wanted to say thanks for the mental picture.

I think if you wear a foil hat, you can avoid getting cancer from a cell phone. You will also prevent the government from reading your thoughts. However, and this is the big thing, a foil hat will NOT prevent the government from listening in on your cell phone conversation. They do that all the time. To keep us unaware, they are putting medication in our water. Wake up, folks!!



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