Maine Wants Mobile Phones To Carry A Cancer Warning… Despite Lack Of Evidence; [Updated: SF Too]

from the yeah-that'll-help dept

There have been ongoing arguments and conflicting studies for years over whether or not mobile phones can cause cancer. However, we had thought that the general scientific consensus was that mobile phones have such weak radiation that it is extremely unlikely to have any meaningful impact on causing cancer. Yet, that doesn’t stop the worries that have long been associated with (almost always unscientific folks) when it comes to wireless signals. The latest such situation involves a politician in Maine pushing for a law that would put cancer warning labels on mobile phones.

But here’s the thing: even if these warnings were put on phones, what would it do? Would people really stop using their mobile phones or make any behavioral adjustment just because of these labels? There might be a few people, but I’d imagine that those who already are sure that mobile phones cause cancer have already acted accordingly. Update: And… just like that, comes the news that San Francisco is considering the same thing.

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Comments on “Maine Wants Mobile Phones To Carry A Cancer Warning… Despite Lack Of Evidence; [Updated: SF Too]”

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Anonymous Coward says:

This blog should carry a cancer warning... Despite lack of evidence.

Well, nothing is better than a consistent message. With that in mind let’s make sure something sticks to the wall this time.

Hopefully, when these special interests will lobby for the warning messages to be COMPLETELY CAPITALIZED. Also, when they are invited to explain their position on the local Maine TV affairs news show, “Maine Today”, they should talk *REAL LOUD* so everyone will make sure they’re super serious this time.

You have to understand that talking REAL LOUD is key to the legislation’s success, because if they don’t, people will think it’s less serious than other Maine news stories, like the more local problem of disappearing lobster traps.

davebarnes (profile) says:

It gets better

“S.F. May Require Warnings About Cellphone Radiation
…“Do you wait until you have proof of cause and effect, or do you look for indications from reputable scientific sources?” said Debbie Raphael, toxics reduction program manager for the department.”

Tek'a R (profile) says:

the fun thing about the proposed law/scar program/someone-thing-of-the-children is the massive requirement for signage, with ideas being thrown around that any phone on display must have a listing of its radiation output “as large as the price” or the great scare-tactic warning icon of a radiating phone next to an image of a child’s brain.

and its being pushed/has been pushed into the special emergency session. fun.

The Anti-Mike says:

No imagination

Mike, you have no imagination.

The placing of a warning label is the first step by government to create liablity for the phone companies, while at the same time allowing the politicians to crow that they have done things to protect their constituents. It’s a political win-win.

Remind me again how many cell phones are manufactured in Maine, I suspect the number is zero. It’s perfect, you get all the political benefits, and none of the negatives of hurting local industry.

COD (profile) says:

My wife had a very interesting conversation at the ENT last week. Her ENT says there are some initial studies out there that show not just increased incidents of acoustic neuroma, but that it correlates to the side of your head that you usually hold the phone. He fully expects to see increased rates of brain tumors connected to mobile phone use, but that it might take 20 years for it to become commonly accepted.

Of course, nothing makes a board certifies surgeon immune from magical thinking, but his opinion, which is all that it is at this point, is definately interesting.

Anonymous Coward says:

there have been conflicting studies that tobacco causes cancer as well, but the general consensus these days is that it does. you of all people should know that scientific studies are not the be all and end all of “proof” for anything. as soon as someone places a label that mobile phones can cause cancer (even if it is in just a small subset of the population) this will enable all those people whom have got cancer of some description around their head/ears to be able to sue mobile phone manufacturers, as now they have some sort of evidence.

that being said, my father could be able to do that. he was a real estate agent, and when the original mobile phones came out (so it was a number of years ago now) he was constantly on them and ended up with cancerous tumours in his ears. he was told by the doctors that it was most likely caused by the phone usage, and that there has been many cases like his but, due to there being no scientific proof, that its not conclusive. this lends to the idea about how many times a coincidence needs to occur before it actually shows up as a pattern.

so yeah, adding warning labels to mobile phones will not actually do anything apart from giving liability. it surely hasnt stopped people from smoking, and it wont stop people from using phones either.

-warning labels gives liabilities (as stated by someone else)
-how many suggested cases of coincidental cancer does it take be its a pattern?
-labels havent stopped smoking
-tobacco had conflicting studies as well

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:


nuclear weapons have not been around that long either and we can be pretty sure that they are not good for you.

this is exactly why i dont put much faith in the subject of cell phone caused cancers. they have been commercially available since the 80’s. thats roughly 30 years. brain tumors as a general rule dont take 30 years to start causing enough problems to be noticed.
and with cell phones commercially available to even the poorest of people who generally have the worst health care, these problems would have been found before and would be easy to find now.

if a link isnt there, then it isnt there. doesnt mean dont look for one, doesnt mean that they wont find one down the road if they do keep looking. but it does mean that trying to use these scare tactics *NOW* is nothing more than a political boondoggle.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Selection Bias

One study into tumours among cell phone users found an increase in tumours on the same side of the head where they held the phone, and a decrease on the opposite side of the head.

How to explain this? The only explanation was bias in the reports themselves, that people were less likely to mention tumours on the “wrong” side of the head. If you want evidence that the radiation does not increase your risk of cancer, this is as clear as you’re going to get.

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