Brain Surgeon Announces That Mobile Phones Cause Cancer… But Without Any New Research

from the well-that's-convincing dept

Every so often, somewhere, a research report comes out claiming that mobile phones cause cancer only to be followed a few months later by the latest research report claiming that mobile phones don’t cause cancer. It goes back and forth and back and forth. So, we take it with a grain of salt every time some new announcement comes out one way or the other, and that’s doubly true with the latest report, as a brain surgeon has declared that mobile phones are “more dangerous than smoking.” Of course, there’s just one problem: the guy hasn’t done any new research. He merely read some of the old research that claims mobile phones cause cancer and is repeating the claims found in them.

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Comments on “Brain Surgeon Announces That Mobile Phones Cause Cancer… But Without Any New Research”

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courtney benson (user link) says:

Cell Phones and Cancer

Keep in mind that the research reports coming out saying that “mobile phones don’t cause cancer” are paid for by the cell phone industry. The fact of the matter is that we are talking about a multi-billion dollar industry that could be severely impacted – history has shown us what happens when global companies fear the impact of lost revenue and or major legal issues.

Bill B. says:

Re: Cell Phones and Cancer

Yes I absolutely agree. That is the problem, you always need to follow the money trail these days whether it’s the government and oil or cell phones and brain cancer. If a team of brain surgeons were to come out tomorrow and declare that yes cell phones do in fact cause or increase the risk of getting brain cancer, an enourmous amount of money would be lost because people (well most people) would stop buying cell phones. It’s sad the facts are not always given to us. They tell us what they want, not always what is the correct answer or the morally right thing to do. You really have to be cautious about it but there’s only so much we can know or learn. Until some brain surgeon or team of engineers or scientist comes out and says for sure, we won’t really know. The problem is that its the long term effects that need to be studied which of course, take a long time. Being an engineer myself, I would lean towards cell phones being a contributor towards brain cancer and definitely increasing your chances of developing it. Microwaves and even electromagnetic radiation from hair dryers is very bad. Electromagnetic radiation from high voltage power lines is very bad for you too. Elect. rad. inhibits and messes with proper brain functioning. It would make sense that cell phones do cause brain cancer unless the amount of electromagnetic intensity is so low that it would not contribute to any problem. Cell phones however give off a large intensity especially while talking on the phone or sending any kind of message because it needs to connect to a tower. But I would definitely be cautious about any study that comes out and says that it does not cause brain cancer, the cell phone companies are like the oil companies, they have tons of power and money and they will get what they want. Maybe someday we’ll actually have a team of scientists and engineers that will do a long term study and someone that will invent a car that gets more than 50 mpg or so that we can completely become independent of oil. Until that day, we’ll continue paying high prices for gas and slowly develop brain cancer with all of our electronic gadgets that are supposed to “improve our quality of life.”

Jake says:

There does seem to be circumstantial and anecdotal evidence in favour of some risk, but I do wish someone would conduct a proper statistical analysis -replicable, peer reviewed and studying a large enough sample of the population to be trustworthy- and settle the matter once and for all, and that until such time as that happens we could all refrain from ill-founded statements liable to cause undue public alarm.

Joe (user link) says:

cellphones - brain cancer

Those of us who saw “Thank You For Smoking,” the wickedly funny and on target indictment of the tobacco industry’s manipulations, will recall the final lines of the movie.

The publicist who is our “hero” has destroyed his own lobbyist career by openly telling the truth about the phony research, the coverups and denials that tobacco companies used for decades while generations got sick and died painful deaths.

As he is contemplating his loss of income, family and career, a friend calls to commiserate. As I recall, he says something like, “So, tobacco is over. But cellphones are the future.”

I still am amused by those around me who think I’m a Neanderthal because I do not have a cellphone. Soon enough too many of them will be limited to saying “duh” and “wha?” through their tumor-induced seizures.

Doc Rings says:

Tough Research to do for a tiny risk problem...

The problem is that since brain cancer is relatively uncommon, and then researching the possible additive effect of cellphone useage on that rate, it would require a study population of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of persons over a long period of time (perhaps five or ten years).
Then there is the hurdle of trying to find a similarly matched control population that do not use cell phones or use them infrequently. Difficult.

So for a long time, it will be anecdotal evidence: “my brother used a cell phone for years and he got brain cancer!” Who knows if he would have gotten it anyway? Impossible to say, statistically.

If you are absolutely freaked out by the possibility of cancer from your cellphone: text message more and use an earbud.

Every person in America has about a 1:6000 chance of DYING in a car wreck EVERY YEAR, or 1:100 chance over their lifetime. I don’t think a 1:1,000,000 chance of brain cancer from a cell phone is that much to worry about, really… We Americans are so uptight about whatever tiny risk the news media throws in our faces…

Sweat the BIG stuff, not the little stuff: wear your seatbelt, ensure your car has an airbag, do the speed limit, exercise, lose weight, don’t smoke, limit your alcohol intake to 2 a day or less, worry less, laugh more.

Dr. Rings

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Tough Research to do for a tiny risk problem..

I don’t think a 1:1,000,000 chance of brain cancer from a cell phone is that much to worry about, really…

Maybe it would help if you read the article before commenting on it. The claim is that cell phone usage is more dangerous than smoking. That’s far above a 1:1,000,000 chance of causing death or injury. If the danger of death or injury from smoking was only 1:1,000,000 it wouldn’t be such a big deal either.

Now I’m not all convinced that the claim is true, but I’m not going to mischaracterize the claim either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Non-ionizing EM fields can have biological effects on our immune system and dna… when you reach a field strength or frequency threshold. Cell phones are designed to stay within this strength/frequency. But, I don’t think there’s enough research into the effect of EM fields (like cell phones) on already cancerous regions.

Re #3:

Do you live in a cave? I’m just kidding, I know plenty of people without cell phones.

But, seriously, do you?

Anonymous of Course says:

Re: Re:

The levels you cite are regulated based on thermal
effects with some added guard band.

Below these regulated levels there is no linear dose
effect relationship. But there are effects. As the
frequency and amplitude are varied there are combinations,
energy wells if you will, where effects appear and

This is terribly difficult to understands though
epidemiological methods because the levels of exposure
are highly variable and for the most part unknown.

I guess the best indication is this, have we seen a
significant increase in brain cancer since the adoption
of cell phone use by the public? I haven’t seen any
reports that can substantiate such a claim.

It seems that using a cell phone is a hazard to your
health if you’re driving a car or crossing the street.
Otherwise, not so much.

Strofcon says:

Other tumors?

While I have absolutely no medical background or objective research to base this on, I have to wonder something about the whole cell phone/cancer issue: If cell phones are supposed to be so capable of inducing brain tumors, why is that we don’t link cell phones to testicular or ovarian cancer? Or other random tumors throughout people’s bodies? I mean how many people carry their cell phone in their front pocket? Tons of us do it. I also drive with mine sitting near my knees so I’ll feel it vibrate if it’s an emergency call.

I’m not trying to say that the brain cancer claim is bogus – I haven’t read ANY of the research, so therefore have no room to make a claim as to its validity or lack thereof. It’s just a question that perhaps someone more medically savvy than myself could take a stab at.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Other tumors?

The power of the EM waves when your cell phone is not in use is very small. So when it’s in your pocket while you are not using it, nothing is really happening. It’s when you start using and you start transmitting between your phone and the tower that the power jumps up and the field strength goes up.

Even if it starts ringing in your pocket, the majority of time it spends is next to your ear.

They should tape cell phones to the backs of mice and run them at full strength for a few years.

Jake says:

Re: Other tumors?

Interestingly enough, when this was discussed on a national radio phone-in show here in Britain, a nurse working in a radiology department called in to report that she had noticed an increase in patients suffering from tumours in the region of their ears or their hips. It may not be statistically significant, but it does suggest that heavy mobile phone use might exacerbate an existing genetic predisposition, or significant exposure to carcinogens through accident or misadventure. Like I said further up, this really does need an extensive study before we can do more than speculate about the level of risk.

Greg says:

Give me a break....

So far the first 5 people to respond to this story seem to just believe this “research.” If cell phones DO cause cancer, I’m betting the exposure you have to have is ~ to being around 103489571308957103895709357 cell phones, all active, at once, for about 20 continuous years.

I really doubt that using one phone, even if you use up all your minutes, will cause any form of cancer..

Jake says:

Re: Give me a break....

With respect, Greg, I don’t think that’s entirely fair. I’m sceptical about some of the wilder claims being made -frequently on websites that are offering various expensive remedies of dubious provenance for sale- but I’m unwilling to entirely dismiss the possibility that there is more than a negligible risk until more research has been done.

Ian says:

Tumors need not be in the brain

I know – i had one 5 years back when I was 31. A parotid tumor. Thats a tumor on the salivary gland pretty close to your ear – Google it. I bought my first mobile back in 1993 and have used them since, though rather less since 2003, just for data and SMS mostly. Latest medical research indicates mobiles do cause this type of tumor. Believe what you want, but remember how the tobacco industry denied smoking caused adverse health problems for years…

TheDock22 says:

Cancer not the biggest problem with cell phones

You think that CANCER is the biggest health risk by using a cell phone? Please, have you read any of the research about how many germs are living on your cell phone at any given time?

How many people actually wipe down their phones with an anti-bacterial cloth? I don’t very often, but I figure I am immune to the germs on my own phone. I am VERY wary before using someone’s cell phone or letting them use mine.

Cancer though? I txt way more than I chat on my cell phone anyway.

You never know says:

Ok, Exposure to radio waves can cause reactions in cell growth, that is if they are subjected to high enough signal strength over a duration of time. There is study by the FCC and the Medical Ass. that placed the exposure levels of several watts contentiously at distances of several inches is necessary in order to create enough EMF to be considered detrimental to humans. Cell phones generate less than 1/10 of a watt so there is not enough signal strength to be of concern. I would think a person that is concerned of radiation exposure from Cell Phones is in more danger of being ran over because they were not paying attention to what they were doing!!!

DCX2 says:


1) If you’re really that concerned, use ear buds or hands-free kits. Seriously, cell phones are more than just an annoyance. They can be invaluable in an emergency.

2) Bitching about the low-power, choppy exposure to electromagnetic waves when using your cell phone is like getting in a full bathtub, pouring a cup of water over yourself every now and then, and saying “damn, now I’m wet.”

Chris says:

Cellphnes simply use radio

If you are this worried about cell phones giving you cancer you should also be worried about anybody using any wireless device including but not limited to radios, wireless routers, cordless phones, bluetooth, and broadcast television. Basically my point is for the last fifty years the entire radio spectrum has been partitioned off so that it can be used at all times all around you. Cell phones are just one frequency range. Sure the intensity near your ear is going to be the most intense radio wave going through your body unless you are near a tower, but there are cell towers and radio towers everywhere. There is no way to conduct solid research on this anymore unless you lock 10,000 people in a farday cage with a broadcast device and another 10,000 people in a faraday cage without a broadcast device.

Certainly different frequencies are more harmful then others. But communications devices stay on the safer side of the spectrum. My bet would be that the exposure from one tooth xray would be comparable to all the radio emission from your cellular telephone over your life span (in terms of the effect of the radiation on cells), but obviously, that is a rough approximation / guess.

Brian says:

faulty technology or dangerous, your decision

I for one use a cell phone daily and after reading all of these articles I will be getting an ear piece. I do for my work phone already but thats a wired one and does not work on my personal phone.

Anyway getting to the subject. I have had cancer and they could not determine if it was the water at the school , the power lines, what I ate, drank or if was because I smoked at the time. My question to everyone is why cant they just be forced to fix the technology so it does not cause any disease whether it be cancer or something else?

DCX2 says:

Re: faulty technology or dangerous, your decision

My question to everyone is why cant they just be forced to fix the technology so it does not cause any disease whether it be cancer or something else?

Ugh. Isn’t physics a required course in high school?

Go learn about the electromagnetic spectrum, how it’s used, and what the effects are. Then your question will be answered.

In case you’re lazy, the short answer is “you can’t”. And the realistic answer is “it doesn’t matter because ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVES ARE EVERYWHERE”. Unless you’re comparing against the typical background exposure, STFU. Seriously. Remove yourself from the conversation until you are educated enough to have an inkling about what you’re talking about. You’re only helping to propagate lies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: faulty technology or dangerous, your decis

Yes I know that, I have a degree in electronics and computer web programming. So please excuse me for dreaming. My point is and apparently you completely missed it, is with new innovations coming about all the time why can?t we have the technology use a different format other then electromagnetic waves. Surely there is an inventor out there with an invention waiting to happen if it hasn’t happened already.

As far as your personal assaults on my lack of knowledge on this subject is uncalled for. KNOCK IT OFF ASSHOLE!!!!!!

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: Re: faulty technology or dangerous, your d

My apologies for projecting my outrage at the total ignorance of basic physics in this thread onto your somewhat naive question. Yours did not display total ignorance, but someone has to be loud about how the science works.

Unless you want to start using the strong force, the weak force, or gravity, as the conduit for the transfer of information, I’m afraid you’re going to be stuck with using the electromagnetic force. As a result, discussion of what can and cannot cause cancer should always include a portion on the relative background exposure at the relevant frequency. That is why you usually don’t get good research. See my bathtub analogy above; why do you care if you’re getting a cup of water poured on you when you’re taking a bath?

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: Re:3 faulty technology or dangerous, yo

The bath water is not hot. There is no specific set of EM waves propagating through us. All EM waves are propagating; the bath tub water is at all temperatures. Meanwhile, the cup of water would not be “freezing cold”, because the frequency range is actually right around the frequencies that living cells are least susceptible to (seeing as how life had to adapt with an atmosphere which passes most Microwave frequencies). If anything, it would be a good match for the current temperature you feel.

Dan (user link) says:

It's too soon to tell

The reality is that it takes a human lifetime to measure the effects. Laboratory tests are helpful, but the real test is to see how cell phone radiation affects us in the context of the rest of our environment and our lifestyles: microwave ovens, smoking, car exhaust, UV, xrays, food preservatives, medication, diet, exercise habits, etc.
With only 20 years of data it’s just too soon to tell, just as it would be really difficult to prove that smoking is deadly with only 20 years of data. Standard toxicology tests test compounds for the LD50: the dose that causes short term death in 50% of test subjects. There is not nearly as much data that tests things over long periods at very low doses or in combination with other things.
It’s even harder to prove that cell phones are safe. This is a different matter than proving that they do cause cancer (or hearing problems or other issues).

A lack of evidence of harm does not prove safety.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It's too soon to tell

The reality is that it takes a human lifetime to measure the effects.

That’s why you have to extrapolate if you want to predict the future. Otherwise, yes, it takes a lifetime to measure the lifetime effects on a human being and the results then only apply to that particular (now deceased) human being. That’s not really very useful for the living.

bshock (profile) says:

of course cell phones probably don't cause brain c

But on an unconscious level, cell phone users probably realize that this pernicious little device is a chain that keeps them constantly bound to the most unpleasant, onerous things in life, like job and wife and parents and idiot acquaintances and telemarketers, etc.

So, although cell phone use probably doesn’t cause brain cancer, eventually cell phone users will wish they were dying from brain cancer anyway.

Pete Valle (user link) says:


I don’t understand why people seem so worried about the risks of cellphones and cancer, yet they drive a car without worrying about dying in an accident (which is far more likely) or walking down the street with no worries of being run over by a teenage joy rider who’s high on Red Bull and Reese’s pieces (unlikely, but probably more likely than cellphone cancer.)

My point is that I am constantly amazed at the illogical risk assessment we do every day. We are afraid of things because there is a minute chance of sickness or injury, yet our daily routine is full of activities that are far more likely to kill, sicken or maim us.

We eat massive amounts of fat and cholesterol rich foods, yet we all go ballistic when we see a fly on top of a salad. Makes no sense.

DCX2 says:

Re: Risks

Bingo! I am reminded of a Wired article, “a million ways to die”. My favorite line was “your appendix is more likely to kill you than al-Qaida.”

Also, Bruce Schneier has a new article up on real and perceived security. It’s a good read, too. The gist is that the public needs to have information in order to draw conclusions about real risks, and without that information it is easy to hoodwink the public with perceived risks (see: War on Terror)

Ian Ward-Bolton (user link) says:

Re: Risks

Yeah, I agree that we worry about the wrong things, especially premature death! What matters is the present moment and if you spend all your present moments worrying then that’s not much of a life. So, if mobile phones help you enjoy life now then use them, providing your use does not harm others.

Another thing: I’m not sure any study into mobile use and cancer will ever prove that mobiles caused the cancer, since perhaps there is some other factor causing both (e.g. someone leads a hectic life needs to use a phone a lot and it’s the lifestyle that causes the cancer; or someone is depressed and paranoid and phoning people a lot and it’s the depression and associated health impact that leads to the cancer). In other words, CORRELATION != CAUSATION.

JT says:

Re: Risks [Pete]


I don’t think it’s an illogical risk assessment to have a discussion, the site isn’t dedicated to “cell phones and the risk of cancer”.

Personally I exclusively use a cell phone and I have thought about it before but I don’t dwell on it and it would be silly to do so. I also tend to agree with Courtney and Joe. Who can really trust research? You’re always going to have two competing sides in a debate that isn’t answerable any time soon.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Risks

My point is that I am constantly amazed at the illogical risk assessment we do every day.

Do you also find it illogical that some people find smoking to be too risky to be worthwhile? If so then I question your own risk assessment process. But if not, then how could you find cell phone usage to acceptable IF it is more risky than smoking? That would be truly illogical. Now, you may argue that cell phones probably aren’t as dangerous as the article claims, and I would agree, but to say that we shouldn’t be concerned even if they are seems ludicrous to me.

Bob says:


If they were really causing Cancer, we would be seeing people dropping like flies all over the world and there would be a definite spike in BRAIN CANCER incidents. So far from looking at data of the most dangerous things to do, smoking is still topping the list. The next one of the list is working out, since this causes more of your muscles to be used, then releasing new toxins into your system and allowing cells to mutate into Cancer…..hmmm…Hey.. that almost sounded like it could happen. LOL

Darksurf says:

How retarded.

Everything causes cancer, the sun, smoking, hell even coffee.
But I’m not going to stop going outside, or drinking my cappuccino! If its soo dangerous how come we don’t see a pie chart showing 30% of the US with brain cancer? A larger percent than that LIVE on their cell phone, and I don’t see any cancer problems!

Smoking, is another thing. its proven to kill more people than the cancer it gives! Most people don’t even live long enough to acquire the cancer. Instead they clog their lungs and stop breathing.

wen says:

cell phones- cancer, leukemia

i read an article a few years back about how keith richards(of the rolling stones) won’t get a cell phone as he said, “its like sticking your head in a microwave”. it made me think about it more because here’s a guy who’s done everything terrible to his health with all his drug use, yet he won’t get a cell phone. now, that’s a powerful indication coming from him. san franciso has been a city that bans a number of radio towers, and when chef julia childe was still alive, she too was lobbying against. i’m thinking of studying to become a real estate agent, but i hear that they need a cel phone or a blackberry. i’m not sure i want to be a sales rep if i need to use them all the time.

kyc worried says:

Am I nuts

The other day I was driving down a major street and heard a pinging… in my left ear coming from the left side of the road.. I actually felt it & it sounded like the sounds they use on the scifi pictures when a UFO is hovering. I couldn’t believe it. But, I had the 3rd best hearing in my elementary school & have been a professional musician much of my life. Could I have heard some wierd frequency like a speed trap? I know this sounds wierd.

But, on the cell phone debate vs. car accidents… I had the very sad experience of seeing a fatal accident in which the young lady may have been using her cell phone when she made a very wrong turn. Cell phones can effect our health in many ways… I’ve never been a Luddite, but I’m limiting my cell phone activity now & have removed my wireless router and cordless phones.

So far I’ve not been declared insane either…

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