Federal agencies clash on cellphone cancer risk

Alicia Farmer
November 4, 2018

What's more, the rodents were exposed to cellphone radiation - known as radio-frequency radiation - at greater levels, and for much longer periods, than what people experience, the researchers said. There was also some evidence of tumors in the brain and adrenal gland of exposed male rats. The highest level was four times higher than the permitted maximum. The animals were exposed for up to two years, for about nine hours a day (with 10 minutes of exposure and 10-minute breaks in between).

"I have become, based on these studies, a little more aware of my use of cellphones and if I make a short call I have absolutely no hesitation at all in picking up the phone and using it in a traditional manner", he said.

In a seeming contradiction, male rats exposed to cellphone signals lived longer than rats not exposed. Ming Yeung/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty ImagesCurrent 4G and 5G cell phones do emit much higher frequencies than second generation cell phones, says The New York Times, but scientists say those radio waves aren't as capable of penetrating the human body as older models. Now, the issue is being raised yet again, as government researchers release the results of a major study that found evidence linking high levels of cellphone radiation exposure to certain types of cancer in rodents. The radiation began in the womb or early in life and lasted for up to two years, which is most of the animals' lifetime.

According to final reports of the study, there is clear evidence that male rats exposed to high levels of radio frequency radiation developed these tumours. RFR levels ranged from 1.5 to six watts per kg in rats, and 2.5 to 10 watts per kg in mice.

"5G is an emerging technology that hasn't really been defined yet", lead toxicologist Michael Wyde said in the statement.

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"We do believe that the tumor responses that we have seen in our studies is real and they are associated with radiofrequency radiation", Bucher said.

For future studies, researchers aim to build smaller RFR chambers to evaluate newer telecommunications technology in a matter of months, rather than years.

These studies will focus on developing measurable physical indicators of potential effects from RFR, including changes in metrics like DNA damage in exposed tissues.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration nominated cell phone RFR for study by NTP because of widespread public use of cell phones and limited knowledge about potential health effects from long-term exposure.

And, "the exposures used in the studies can not be compared directly to the exposure that humans experience when using a cellphone", NTP senior scientist John Bucher noted in an NIEHS news release. Professor Emeritus Anthony Miller MD, FRCP, FRCP (C), FFPH, former Director, National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group and former member World Health Organization Expert Advisory Panel on Cancer 2005-2015 (Professor Miller was also former Director Epidemiology Unit National Cancer Institute of Canada; former Director, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Evaluation of Screening for Cancer; former Chairman Scientific Advisory Committee, Occupational Cancer Research Centre 2009-2017). Subscribe to one or more of the NIEHS news lists to stay current on NIEHS news, press releases, grant opportunities, training, events, and publications. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.

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