The U.S. government has released a report that will undoubtedly prove to be a game-changer when it comes to the issue of cell phone safety. The U.S. National Toxicology Program, a federal interagency program under the National Institutes of Health, has released a report that shows statistically significant increases in cancer among rats that had been exposed to GSM or CDMA signals for two years.
The NTP Report of Partial Findings
The report titled “Report of Partial Findings from the National Toxicology Program Carcinogenesis Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation in Hsd: Sprague Dawley SD Rats (Whole Body Exposures)” appeared online May 26, 2016, after the highly respected Microwave News invoked a flurry of media coverage by citing an inside source. (View the article here.) The day after Microwave News published the article, the U.S. government released the report. (*Note: the full draft report was released February 2, 2018.)
Report Findings: Cell Phones and Cancer
The exposed rats had higher rates of two types of cancers: glioma and malignant schwannoma of the heart (a very rare tumor). What’s more, the unexposed control rats did not develop either type of tumor.
While the mice used in the study showed no changes (perhaps due, in part, to the fact that the rats were exposed in utero while the mice were not), there is no disputing this finding with the rats.
Dr. Ron Melnick is the former lead researcher for this study. He has reviewed the findings and in a phone interview emphasized the significance of the results:
The unique finding is that the types of tumors are similar to the types of tumors that have been found in epidemiology studies.
Furthermore, says Dr. Melnick, this report will help consumers sort through the mixed messages regarding cell phone safety.
When people hear they should use headsets or the speaker function, they can ignore it because one side says it can’t happen and the other side says there needs to be a warning. I think this information moves the pendulum on this debate.
Consumers should take precautionary measures when using their cell phones.
This $25 million study dates back to 1999, when the FDA nominated the NTP to study radiofrequency fields from wireless devices, saying (emphasis mine),
Over 80 million Americans currently use wireless communications devices (e.g., cellular phones) with about 25 thousand new users 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.
Fast-forward 17 years and this is what we read in the report issued May 26, 2016:
The review of partial study data in this report has been prompted by several factors. Given the widespread global usage of mobile communications among users of all ages, even a very small increase in the incidence of disease resulting from exposure to RFR could have broad implications for public health. There is a high level of public and media interest regarding the safety of cell phone RFR and the specific results of these NTP studies.
The Study’s Findings
One in 18 male rats exposed to cell phone radiation developed cancer (30 of 540, or 5.5%). Of the 90 rats that were not exposed, no cancer was found.
It’s important to note that the temperature of the rats was controlled to prevent heating effects. Current safety regulations are based on tissue heating alone. This landmark study suggests that non-ionizing radiofrequency radiation can cause cancer without heating the tissue.
The Report Abstract
The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) has carried out extensive rodent toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) at frequencies and modulations used in the US telecommunications industry.
This report presents partial findings from these studies. The occurrences of two tumor types in male Harlan Sprague Dawley rats exposed to RFR, malignant gliomas in the brain and schwannomas of the heart, were considered of particular interest and are the subject of this report.
The findings in this report were reviewed by expert peer reviewers selected by the NTP and National Institutes of Health (NIH). These reviews and responses to comments are included as appendices to this report, and revisions to the current document have incorporated and addressed these comments. Supplemental information in the form of 4 additional manuscripts has or will soon be submitted for publication.
These manuscripts describe in detail the designs and performance of the RFR exposure system, the dosimetry of RFR exposures in rats and mice, the results to a series of pilot studies establishing the ability of the animals to thermoregulate during RFR exposures, and studies of DNA damage.
This study will no doubt be criticized. Often there are more questions than answers that come with a study of this magnitude. However, $25 million and nearly two decades of work should not be dismissed, either. It took decades of conflicting science for warnings to be placed on cigarette packages. Why not take a precautionary approach now when it comes to cell phones?
Researcher and biochemist Dr. Jerry Phillips discusses this study as well as his research funded by Motorola in this edition of The Connecting Place.
Louis Slesin, founder of Microwave News, discusses the implications of this study in this edition of The Connecting Place.