FDA Studying Cell Phone Health Risks
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2000 14:30:08 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Roy L. Beavers" <email@example.com>
To: emfguru <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Cell phone health risks need to be studied, FDA says (guru)..
........O.K. - here is the story (from Seattle Post-Intelligencer) ... that started the "excitement" in Sweden.....
Clearly, as guru suggested in the first message on this subject, there is no new information here..... The research results that are being cited ... are some of the much earlier (reported on EMF-L) George Carlo led research.....
It looks like the FDA is feeling the need to "hype" this subject a bit to explain the research they have undertaken? Research - I emphasize again - that is NOT INDEPENDENT of influence by the vested industries....!! As you will read below, the telecom companies are right in there on the "inside" in the "thick of it" - and the final results will have their "fingerprints" all over it....!!!
It is noteworthy that the earlier research which has caught FDA's attention includes that about "a rare type of brain tumor." The names of two top level business executives who were victims of this type of "cancer" are given, but the names of two political leaders who were victims of brain cancer, Lee Atwater and Congressman Mike Synar, are not mentioned.... (I wonder what type of brain cancer they had - that did not qualify them for inclusion???)
Otherwise, nothing here suggests any NEW "worry" on the part of the FDA..... What you are seeing here is the need (a genuine need) to justify research on this subject..... The FDA (and ALL the federal government) has done such a poor job of informing the American people about ALL ASPECTS of the EMF health risk issue ... that when it comes time to expend some funds on research - nobody (including the Congress) is prepared for it.....!!!
What is needed is a good DEEP and BROAD "oversight" investigation of the EMF public safety issue by the Congress......
Roy Beavers (EMFguru)
It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness
People are more important than profits!!
Cell phone health risks need to be studied, FDA says
Saturday, April 1, 2000
By ERIC ROSENBERG and JENNIFER CORBETT DOOREN
WASHINGTON -- Federal safety regulators are investigating whether microwave radiation from cell phones causes cancer or other diseases.
The investigation was triggered by two industry-sponsored studies that the Food and Drug Administration said require additional research.
The FDA hastens to add that there is no scientific basis for concluding that cell phones are unsafe -- or that they are safe. The only way to conclusively answer the safety question is through "a significant research effort," the FDA says.
One study by researchers at the American Health Foundation in New York found an association between cell phone use and a rare type of brain tumor. The other study, conducted by Integrated Laboratory Systems in Research Triangle Park, N.C., found that DNA in human blood cells breaks down when exposed to large doses of cell phone radiation, possibly laying the genetic groundwork for cancer.
"We are not sure what this means," said Dr. George Carlo, who headed the industry's $27 million safety research project from 1993 until last year. "This could be a colossal coincidence or the tip of the iceberg," said Carlo, an epidemiologist and lawyer.
With 86 million cellular phone users in the United States alone and 30,000 new users signing up daily, "this translates into a potentially significant public health problem, should the use of these devices even slightly increase the risk of adverse health effects," the FDA says.
In the last year, the number of cell phone users in the United States jumped by 10 million. U.S. cell phone sales soared over $37 billion in 1999, up $8 billion over the previous year and $12 billion over 1997.
The Carlo studies showing a possible link between the phones and illness have caught the attention of Peter Angelos, a prominent Baltimore attorney who has successfully litigated against the tobacco industry and asbestos manufacturers. Angelos is investigating possible legal action against the cellular phone industry but cautions that more scientific research is needed.
The question of cell phone safety recently led Metrocall of Alexandria, Va., the nation's third-largest pager company and a major seller of AT&T cellular phones, to warn its sales staff that parents buying for a child or young adult should consider a pager instead of a cell phone "due to potential health risks."
The reason, said company officials, is concern that younger people, whose bodies are still developing, may be more susceptible to damage from microwave radiation.
"If an adult comes in with a teenager and says, 'I want to buy my kid a cell phone,' we say this is something that we want to make you aware of," said Michael Scanlon, a senior vice president at Metrocall.
Carlo's cell phone research project -- which involved dozens of scientists at universities, hospitals and private laboratories across the nation over a five-year period -- produced more than 40 studies.
While most of the research showed cell phone use had no effect on the human body, Dr. Russell Owen, chief of the radiation-biology branch of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said the two studies "raise some interesting scientific questions but are no cause for alarm."
Much of the new safety research will be coordinated by the FDA and the cell phone industry represented by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA).
The first study will follow up the North Carolina research on DNA breakdown linked to cell phone radiation.
That is "a priority goal," said Owen, because -- if the findings are accurate -- such damage could lead to cancer or other disorders.
The details of the new research program won't be released until later this year. It is unclear how long it will take to complete. The National Cancer Institute and the World Health Organization are also conducting studies on cell phone safety.
The safety questions were first raised in 1993 when a Florida man, David Reynard, filed suit against NEC Corp., a cell phone manufacturer, claiming his wife Suzy's fatal brain cancer was caused by her cell phone.
His suit and 12 other suits against cell phone manufacturers have been dismissed for lack of scientific proof, according to Angelos.
Public anxieties were further heightened by the brain-cancer deaths of two prominent business executives in 1993 and 1994, Michael Walsh, the chief executive officer of Tenneco, and Reginald Lewis, the chief executive of TLC Beatrice. Both were cell phone users. Their illnesses sparked a sell-off of wireless-industry stocks.
As a result of public concern, the CTIA decided to fund the $27 million research project aimed at assuring consumers that cell phones are safe.
The industry association argues that cell phones are indeed safe, despite the two studies that Carlo calls "red flags."
"These are just pieces of a much larger picture, and the larger picture continues to reaffirm the fact that there are no adverse health effects from using cellular phones," said Jo-Anne Basile, CTIA's vice president for external and industry relations.
Cell phones use microwave signals to transmit human voice or data. Microwaves -- a specific category of radio waves -- also have other applications, the most common of which is to cook food. The major difference between cell phones and microwave ovens is the amount of power that propels the signal. Cell phones use low power, while ovens use high power.
High levels of microwave radiation are known to be dangerous. A microwave oven, for example, shoots a powerful microwave signal, propelled by 100 watts of power, at a piece of food and cooks it by heating its water molecules.
The key question is whether the low level of microwave radiation used by a cell phone -- a cell phone's microwave signal is propelled by about 0.6 watts of power -- also can cause harm.
Research has not shown a firm link between microwaves and cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
"While some epidemiological studies suggest associations with cancer, others do not, and experimental studies have not yet yielded reproducible evidence of carcinogenic mechanisms," ACS said.
The cell phone's radiation field is concentrated at about three to four inches around the antenna, near the user's head.
Current FDA rules on cell phone safety rely on a radiation measurement called the "specific absorption rate" or SAR.
Cell phones are allowed to emit a maximum SAR of 1.6 watts per kilogram as measured over one gram of body tissue. The FDA now questions whether that safety limit fully protects consumers.
The North Carolina researchers at Integrated Laboratory Systems were surprised to find cell damage when tissue was exposed to radiation of 5 and 10 watts per kilogram over 24 hours.
Researchers found no problems when blood cells were exposed to radiation of 1 watt per kilogram over a period of 24 hours. They also found no damage when blood cells were exposed for three hours at 1, 2.5, 5 and 10 watts per kilogram.
In other words, problems appeared when blood was exposed to higher levels of radiation over longer periods of time.
What had previously been considered safe now appeared to pose some risk.
This led to the conclusion that no one knew exactly what is a safe level of radiation,
The American Health Foundation used a different kind of scientific tool known as case control studies. In still-unpublished preliminary findings, the researchers compared the cell phone exposure of a group of people with a particular health problem with another group of people who did not have the condition.
One study compared 465 patients newly diagnosed with brain cancer against a group of 422 non-cell-phone users who did not have the disease. They found no association between overall brain cancer risk and cell phone usage.
But when the researchers looked at a specific type of brain cancer -- known as neuronal tumors, which grow from the periphery of the brain inward -- they found that 14 out of 34 patients with that kind of cancer were cell phone users.
Compared with the control group, cell phone users had more than double the risk of developing the tumor.
A hazard for rats..... Dr. Henry Lai, a University of Washington bioengineer, has published a number of studies indicating the radiation emitted by cell phones may pose a health hazard.
In research done on rats, Lai showed that cells in the brain had suffered genetic damage after exposure to the same strength and kind of radiation emitted by cell phones. Other studies have documented DNA damage caused by cell phone signals. Cancer is thought to be prompted by genetic damage.
In January's edition of the journal Bioelectromagnetics, the University of Washington scientist published another study on rats that tested spatial memory. Rats exposed to an hour of pulsed radiation -- comparable to the radiation experienced by a person talking on a cell phone for an hour -- suffered significant memory loss, Lai reported.
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