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.


Dr. A said...

Thanks so much for referencing my blog and for the link. I really appreciate it!

JBN said...

JEH- Your post is both very interesting and relevant and was a pleasure to read.
Further, your topic is one which is currently heavily debated, largely by the mainstream media, sparking controversy on both sides of the story. Therefore, hearing there are actually legitimate studies in progress generates particular interest and uneasiness concerning the potential results of a longer term study. Considering how often my cell phone is up against my ear – I am tentatively optimistic that the findings in the study by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme are suggestive of accurate results. However, I am curious to see if “a longer-term study would show more severe effects” and instinctively feel as though they would, however such a feeling may be largely due to the typical story selling ‘scare tactics’ of popular culture media. Knowing you too feel that a longer study would result in more conclusive findings, do you think these findings would suggest a strong and direct link between the use of cell phones and detrimental medical effects? Concerning your other post, I also agree “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.” Although I disagree that all researchers follow through with such bias, I am also aware of potential fiscal and therefore, in our society very influential, incentives to finding certain results. In the case described previously, partly funded by a Mobile Telecommunications company it would seem that findings suggesting there is no inherent risk with cell phone use would follow a business plan. There are many “myths” out there so keep cracking them!

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