September 24, 2007

Mobile Phones: Is There a Link to Cancer?

For several years now, there has been a constant concern of whether or not mobile phones, are associated with the development of cancer, specifically brain cancer (image on the right). Many have heard that the more you utilize cellular phones, the more likely it is that brain cancer will develop. Is this another myth or can this be another health issue people need to be aware of? With this question in mind, I have decided to do some research this week by utilizing and exploring the blogosphere. There were two posts that I decided to comment on which can be seen in the following two paragraphs. The first post that I commented on is titled “Did you know…” written by Sasha. Sasha brings up the issue of cellular phones causing cancer. However, her post is mainly concerned with presenting a recent study revealing that mobile phones may cause a slowing of brain activity. The second post that I commented on is titled “Cell phones cause cancer?” written by family physician, Dr. A. He explains that the study is pretty insignificant and the risk of developing cancer from the use of cell phones is a rumor. With my overall findings, research has not been clearly able to confirm the linkage between mobile phones and cancer.

“Did you know…”
First of all, I would like to say that your blog presents an interesting issue concerned with mobile phones and brain activity. The study that was conducted by researchers in Australia, England and the Netherlands concluded similar study conclusions to the recent report that was released by Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR). This report by MTHR stated that there is not a significant risk between mobile phones and cancer. However, this can not be a definite conclusion since it was a short-term study rather than a long-term study. The study that you present in your blog states the same thing. Martijn Arns predicts that “a longer-term study would show more severe effects.” I believe that there is a possibility that long-term studies might present clearer conclusions. On the other hand, I would argue that people want to obtain certain results and, as a consequence, will prolong this study in order to affirm those results if such findings can be conclusive. I may add that this study seems to be quite insignificant due to the small study sample collected over a short period of time. Since the researchers do plan on expanding the study over a longer period of time with a larger sample, I believe the results of the future study will be a bit more significant.

"Cell phones cause cancer?”
I would like to say that I strongly agree with your statement “research is a funny business in that if you don't like the result, you either extend out the time of the study until you get the result that you want.” I find this to be very true within our present society. People do want to confirm that cellular phones do cause cancer, just as many had stated that plastic bottles cause cancer as well! Both are myths; however people never seem to be satisfied with the research results that are primarily conducted by these higher institutions. I can understand how they do not want to make a definite conclusion since previous studies associated with lung cancer and smoking did not appear until ten years later. However, it is interesting to note that a team found “slight excess reporting of brain and ear cancer” that were on the “borderline of statistical significance.” Again, I agree with your translation of this statement which basically means “no statistical significance.” It is great to know that a physician is able to justify and clarify these concerning recent issues since they are so relevant in our American health care system.

September 17, 2007

Fact or Fiction: The Insight on Whether or Not Plastics Cause Cancer

Circulating emails entitled “Cancer Updates From John Hopkins” have made their way through innumerable inboxes having many inclined to wonder whether drinking water out of plastic bottles will lead to the development of cancer. Upon receiving a persuasive yet deceitful email discussing a current research finding at Johns Hopkins University, a majority of people believed the addressing issue of a harmful toxin, known as dioxin, being released into the water after freezing the plastic bottle. Furthermore, the email addressed the appearance of the Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital, Dr. Edward Fujimoto, on a TV program explaining this health hazard which furthered the plausibility of the false warning. He talked about the dangers of dioxin and how heating food with plastic is not a safe method since it does contribute to the release of these cancer-causing toxins. In exception to the discussion Dr. Edward Fujimoto had on television, the email was filled with misinformation.

Due to this notice that was supposedly sent out by Johns Hopkins University, confirmation from the university itself was needed to verify the validity of the significant finding. In response to this email, assistant professor, Rolf Halden, PhD, PE, in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and the Center for Water and Health at Johns Hopkins University discredited this hoax email. The Office of Communications and Public Affairs at the university conversed with Rolf Halden about the issue of dioxins released from plastic bottles as well as the use of plastic cookware. Halden clarified the issue and stated that dioxins are not present in plastics and freezing plastic bottles does not contribute to the release of this chemical. Moreover, he explained that: “Chemicals do not diffuse as readily in cold temperatures, which would limit chemical release if there were dioxins in plastic, and we don’t think there are.” It is important to note however that heating and cooking with plastics does increase the possibility of chemicals being released into the food substance according to Halden. Consequently, Dr. Edward Fujimoto’s statement on heating foods in plastic, as found in the email, is not an inaccurate statement. Rather, understanding the context as a whole can be misinterpreted by many who did receive the email.

Though present-day technology allowed for an immediate distribution of the email regarding the recent research on dioxin, the hoax was quickly identified and detested by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. It is important that society is immediately warned about all possible health risks associated with the usage of plastic ware. For example, many people probably would not have known that some drinking straws have been labeled “not for hot beverages” simply because the chemicals from the straw are being extracted into one’s beverage according to Halden. Most would usually have the initial understanding that one might be burned by using the straw.

Moreover, generating a scare towards drinking water from plastic bottles through a false email contributes to an unrest society. The release and distribution of such pertinent health related information throughout the internet needs to be monitored and certified in a specific manner. I, myself being a previous recipient of such a bogus email, further looked into the issue of dioxins and discovered the falsification attached with the email message. Additionally, the validity of such a message would have not been only claimed online, but through the use of mass media. Today is the age of a well informed society. Nevertheless, I say thank you for the recommendation of using heat-resistant glass, stainless steel, or ceramics when cooking in order to avoid the increased risk of cancer. No thank you to the unnecessary scare that left many wondering what the next everyday essential (like water bottles) will be warned against as a possible risk of developing cancer.
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