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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile), Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 2:11pm

    It scares people. My mother called me from her land line yesterday to let me know they had found the link between cell phones and cancer because she misunderstood the article.

    Nothing gets voters to the polls like a good scare.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Brian (profile), Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 2:13pm

    If it scares them it gets you votes to show you "care"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 3:21pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 3:32pm

    Stupid politicians cause cancer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    davebarnes (profile), Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 3:40pm

    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."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    I have an idea, Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 3:46pm

    A cure for stupid

    I think that the fastest way to cure stupid, especially that special kind exhibited by most polititions is to invent a virus that makes stupid painful. I have a donation to start the research. When can we start?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    :), Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 3:54pm

    Stick tape x-ray radiation.

    TVs will have warnings about x-ray radiation too or people handling tape?

    Once I was doing spectro chomatography in aluminum samples and I could feel my filings pushing against my teeth. There were no warnings about radiation anywhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Tek'a R (profile), Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 3:55pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Jack Everitt, Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 3:57pm

    If this was a serious problem, wouldn't most of the people in Hong Kong be, er, dead or dying from this radiation by now? (If you've been to Hong Kong, you know what I'm talking about.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    The Anti-Mike, Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 3:58pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 4:11pm

    Hopefully these guys will also work in tandem to regulate chewing gum that has aspartame sweetener.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Justin, Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 4:20pm

    Maybe a warning printed on Politicians:

    WARNING: This person carries a high risk of lying, cheating, committing fraud, and stealing from the community.

    Using their logic, there is no hard and fast evidence, but just to be safe, you know.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    MLS, Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 4:53pm

    Plastics are chock full of substances that are known to be cardinogenic. Thus, I see nothing wrong with a warning label that cell phones should not be eaten.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    COD (profile), Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 5:14pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 5:35pm

    lets just say the truth never needs to get in the way

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    BearGriz72 (profile), Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 5:38pm

    Re: A cure for stupid

    Now that is Not-For-Profit Organization I could get behind!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    slander (profile), Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 7:01pm

    San Francisco, huh?

    You want to cause a panic there? Publish a report that Birkenstocks need warning stickers because of a potential radiation hazard...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Elvenrunelord, Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 7:07pm

    Actually there are several studies out that indicate a higher risk of cancer from cell-phone use.

    What we are talking about here is the FDA saying it ain't so.

    And we all know that the FDA is honest and would never allow a dangerous product to enter the consumer market right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 7:10pm

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Ryan D, Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 7:30pm


    The UniBomber has been right all along! Technology is killing us!!!

    But Really..
    I think just about everything is deadly now, they dont really test things long enough. How long have cell phones really been around, not even for one life span.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    slander (profile), Dec 23rd, 2009 @ 7:42pm


    -how many suggested cases of coincidental cancer does it take be its a pattern?
    Depends on which which alarmist's interpretation the media decides to go with.

    (Yeah, yeah, I ended a sentence with a preposition--what of it?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2009 @ 8:00am

    ...for the children...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. icon
    harbingerofdoom (profile), Dec 24th, 2009 @ 9:07am

    Re: It gets better

    and if you are in SF or Berkley, you wait for neither. What you DO wait for is scare mongering junk science to give you an excuse to run with it.

    and find a way to tax people for it while you are at it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. icon
    harbingerofdoom (profile), Dec 24th, 2009 @ 9:37am

    Re: OMG

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Dec 24th, 2009 @ 3:41pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Palscience, Dec 24th, 2009 @ 7:07pm

    Link between cancer and cellphones?

    But there is no a defined research that links them together right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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