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cragger
12-02-2010, 11:36 AM
The science Saturday guys have talked about cell phone risks or the lack thereof before. The 2010 Interphone study suggests the related RF exposure can cause DNA damage and related cancers.

One thing the Interphone study did find? People who chatted via cell for just 30 minutes a day for 10 years saw their risk of glioma (the type of brain tumor that killed Ted Kennedy) rise 40 percent.

the Interphone study showed gliomas were more prevalent on the side of the head people continuously pressed phones to

from: http://health.yahoo.net/rodale/WH/is-your-health-on-the-line

TwinSwords
12-02-2010, 12:17 PM
The science Saturday guys have talked about cell phone risks or the lack thereof before. The 2010 Interphone study suggests the related RF exposure can cause DNA damage and related cancers.

Obviously someone is a Marxist who hates American capitalism.

I suppose next you're going to try to force us all to switch to an all celery diet.

Is Soros paying you to post this stuff, Cragger?

/sarcasm

But seriously, very interesting. Thanks for posting it.

bjkeefe
12-02-2010, 12:32 PM
The science Saturday guys have talked about cell phone risks or the lack thereof before. The 2010 Interphone study suggests the related RF exposure can cause DNA damage and related cancers.

[...]

from: http://health.yahoo.net/rodale/WH/is-your-health-on-the-line

This has been addressed elsewhere on this site (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=189434&highlight=phone#post189434).

A few more skeptical responses (from back in May, when the report was released):

1. The Guardian: "Mobile phone study finds no solid link to brain tumours (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/may/17/mobile-phones-brain-cancer-study)."

2. IEEE Spectrum: "Interphone Report on Cell Phone/Cancer Connection Doesn't Settle Anything (http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/wireless/interphone-report-on-cell-phonecancer-connection-doesnt-settle-anything)."

Ten years, 13 countries, 13 thousand participants, and $24 million, and we now have it. The Interphone study (http://www.iarc.fr/), the comprehensive effort to either put our cell phone fears to rest or label them a carcinogen, officially concludes that (http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/dyq079) “Overall, no increase in risk of glioma or meningioma (a specific brain cancer thought to be promoted or triggered by cell phone radiation) was observed with use of mobile phones.” It also says “There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma at the highest exposure” and those tumors are more likely to show up on the side of the head on which the user typically holds the phone.

In a press conference (http://www.iarc.fr/) announcing the results, Elizabeth Cardis, one of the researchers involved, said, "We have not demonstrated that there is increased risk but neither have we demonstrated that there is an absence of risk. These findings of increased risk in the heaviest users suggest a possible association but we don't have enough scientific evidence."

So, essentially, the Interphone report says what you want it to say. If you don’t want to see a link between cell phones and cancer, you don’t. If you do, you can find one. [...]

[...]

Why the confusion? Well, some data was plain weird—among light cell phone users, the cancer risk appeared lower than among folks that didn’t use cell phones at all—calling into question the methodology used. And the “conclusions” were subject to negotiation—negotiation that took four years and led to compromises in how to report the results.

3. Orac, then blogging at Respectful Insolence on ScienceBlogs, also had a good post (http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/05/oh_no_my_cell_phones_going_to_kill_me_th.php). Excerpts:

Oh no! My cell phone's going to kill me! (The revenge).

Here we go again.

I've written a few times before about the controversy over whether cell phones (a.k.a. mobile phones in most of the rest of the world) cause brain cancer, concluding on more than one occasion that the evidence does not support a link. For example, there has not been a large increase in brain cancer or other cancers claimed to be due to cell phone radiation in the 15 to 20 years since the use of cell phones took off back in the 1990s, nor has any study shown a convincing correlation between cell phone use and brain cancer.

Of course, one would not expect a priori, based on what is known about basic science, that cell phone radiation would cause cancer. After all, the development of cancer in general ultimately requires mutations in critical genes regulating cell growth and development. For an outside treatment to cause such mutations, as far as we know, requires the ability to cause DNA damage through the breaking of chemical bonds. Ionizing radiation can do this, as can certain cehmicals and chemotherapeutic agents. Indeed, that's how these agents work against cancer because cancer cells tend to be more sensitive to DNA damaging agents than normal cells due to defective DNA repair mechanisms. Thus, it is highly implausible based on basic science that cell phone radiation could cause cancer. It's not homeopathy level-implausible, but it's pretty implausible. Nor is it impossible, as has been claimed, because there may be biological mechanisms behind cancer that we do not yet understand, and it's almost always physicists with little knowledge of epigenetics and other mechanisms of cancer development who make such dogmatic claims. Still, such physicists are not too far off; if cell phones could cause cancer, it would have to be through a previously unknown physiological or genetic mechanism. Absent compelling evidence of a link between cell phones and cancer, then, it is not unreasonable to rely on the basic science and consider the possibility of such a link to be remote.

[...]

The latest volley in this fray was released yesterday in the form of a new report of the results of an ongoing study examining whether there is a correlation between cell phone use and cancer. For once, news reports seem to be getting it right in that the results are "inconclusive." Of course, I would have been shocked if the results had been conclusive. Based on this study, there are two things I can say with confidence. First, it will settle nothing, and, second, it will be attacked by those who, despite all the evidence against it and the incredible implausibility of a link between cell phones and cancer, deeply believe that there is just such a link. No doubt such attacks will include a mention that part of the funding for the study came from the Mobile Manufacturers' Forum (MMF) and the GSM Association, both industry groups. True, the funding from these organizations went first through a "firewall mechanism," but that won't stop the criticisms.

The study was the INTERPHONE study, which involves 13 countries looking for any sort of link between cell phones and two types of brain cancer, glioblastoma and meningioma. Partial results from the study have already been published, but the current study1 represents the first time that results from all 13 countries have been reported. The study itself is a case control study including 2,708 glioma patients and 2,409 meningioma patients, along with matched controls. I'll basically cut to the chase here (unusual for me) and reveal the outcome: There was no compelling evidence of an association between cell phone use and either of these cancers. Surprise, surprise.

There were, however, a couple of rather interesting findings in subgroups. Now I'll say one thing about subgroup analysis. Basically, subgroup analysis is something that researchers do when their overall results are negative to try to salvage a "positive" result out of a study. For instance, if a study shows that, for example, factor X is not associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer, the next thing to do is to see if X is associated with breast cancer in women under 40, in smokers, in drinkers, or in any subgroup the investigators can think of. The problem is, when you slice and dice the subject group into ever smaller groups looking for subgroup effects, you will almost always find one. Whether the result is spurious or not is impossible to tell without a further study, which is why positive results from subgroup analysis should almost always be considered as hypothesis generating rather than hypothesis confirming. [...]

[...]

Obviously, this current study has many limitations. There is no data about exposures longer than 15 years, and, as has been pointed out before, using recall to estimate cell phone use is prone to biases and other problems. Even so, it is yet another study adding to the accumulation of evidence that is failing to find an association between cell phone use and cancer. Given the extreme biological implausibility of the hypothesis that cell phones cause cancer, this result is not at all surprising. In fact, I'll go beyond that and predict that future updates of the INTERPHONE study will fail to find any evidence of a significant correlation between cell phone use and cancer. I'll also predict that those who believe in such a link will dismiss the results.

Orac also blogged about this study in 2008 (http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/07/oh_no_my_cell_phones_going_to_kill_me.php) and 2009 (http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/12/the_revenge_of_cell_phones_and_cancer_st.php).

[Added] About Orac (http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/about.php). More here (http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?author=8).

cragger
12-02-2010, 07:28 PM
I don't think I saw that particular SciSat diavlog (your "addressed elsewhere" link) or read the associated comments. I seem to remember (always suspect) them talking about this further back. I just saw the article today and hence the post here. I suppose for purposes of argument I could take exception to the "addressed elsewhere" phrase, which implies "asked, answered, and disproven" which isn't necessarily the case from what admitedly little I can tell.

I've no idea who Orac is, what his/her background related to medicine, the cell phone industry, or whatever might be, nor how much they know about the issue and the various studies in existance. I will say that this phrase from your quoted material:

... incredible implausibility of a link between cell phones and cancer ...

leads me to strongly suspect a heavily biased look at the issue. We do know after all that EM radiation does in fact have that effect. To what degree the radiation from cell phones does I have no idea, though the reported data that cancers do occur on the side of the head to which users hold their phones leads me to think that the degree is very unlikely to be zero. Given the economics involved and my jaundiced view of what people will do for money, I tend to think folks with biases toward claiming that the risk is zero or unworthy of study and determination are likely to considerably outnumber and outweigh in media reportage those folks who are reflexively alarmist.

People seem to use cell phones to a degree that folks never used land line phones outside of certain work-specific cases. Why there is a perceived need to phone, text, or tweet every time one walks out of a door, eats a donut, or observes some daily banality is a mystery to me, but maybe that just says more about me.

Risk is a funny thing. Some risks tend to aggregate, so although it may be difficult to control well enough to specify the exact risk from a single specific cause, the overall risk of a set of factors may be significant. We might also be aware of and accept certain specific risks and still reasonably chose to refuse others, despite an agrument that they are no greater.

cragger
12-02-2010, 07:31 PM
You haven't been eating only celery?


The Blue Canary Sings at Dawn

The code has been given. That's the last we'll see of him.

bjkeefe
12-03-2010, 04:07 AM
I don't think I saw that particular SciSat diavlog (your "addressed elsewhere" link) or read the associated comments. I seem to remember (always suspect) them talking about this further back. I just saw the article today and hence the post here. I suppose for purposes of argument I could take exception to the "addressed elsewhere" phrase, which implies "asked, answered, and disproven" which isn't necessarily the case from what admitedly little I can tell.

Yes, I'm sorry. I could have put that a little more politely.

I've no idea who Orac is, what his/her background related to medicine, the cell phone industry, or whatever might be, nor how much they know about the issue and the various studies in existance.

Did you see the "about" links at the bottom of my previous post? If not: from a link (http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?page_id=224) in the "Details" section in the latter:

David H. Gorski, MD, PhD, FACS is a surgical oncologist at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute specializing in breast cancer surgery, where he also serves as the American College of Surgeons Committee on Cancer Liaison Physician and Co-Leader of the Breast Cancer Biology Program, as well as an Associate Professor of Surgery and member of the faculty of the Graduate Program in Cancer Biology at Wayne State University and a Founding Fellow of the Institute for Science in Medicine. An NIH-funded investigator whose primary research interests include tumor angiogenesis and the role of glutamate receptors in promoting the growth and metastasis of breast cancer, Dr. Gorski also runs an active research laboratory at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and has recently taken an active interest in the problems of breast cancer overdiagnosis and overtreatment, inspired to a large extent by what he learned by blogging here at SBM1,2,3,4. Dr. Gorski has also discussed the recent USPSTF mammogram guidelines.

Dr. Gorski first became interested in pseudoscience and “alternative” medicine around 2000, when quite by accident he wandered into the Usenet newsgroup misc.health.alternative and began critically examining the claims there. Since then, he has accumulated considerable experience refuting quackery and pseudoscience online. For the last five years, he has blogged under a pseudonym, producing what is consistently ranked as one of the top ten medical blogs, and is happy to drop his pseudonym in order to join such an accomplished group of skeptical doctors to discuss science- and evidence-based medicine (SEBM) for a broad audience.

[...]

FINANCIAL AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST DISCLOSURES: Dr. Gorski has been funded over the last decade by institutional funds, the Department of Defense, the National Cancer Institute, the ASCO Foundation, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. He currently receives no funding from pharmaceutical companies, although he did once receive a modest payment for an invention from such a company back in the mid-1990s. Indeed, so bereft of pharmaceutical funding is Dr. Gorski that before his talks, when he is required to make his disclosures of conflicts of interest, he often jokes that no pharmaceutical company is interested enough in his research to want to give him any money. Maybe one day that will change, but for now, like most biomedical scientists in academia, he must beg the NIH and other granting agencies for the money to keep his lab going. Please be aware that he does also write elsewhere for a small monthly payment for a blog collective that has unfortunately allowed a corporate blog by PepsiCo to take up temporary residence in its pages. He is actually quite disturbed by this development and reassessing his situation there.

(Numerous links in quoted material not copied over; please see original.)

If you want, I will dig up some more; in the meantime, I will say that he commands high respect from many of the other (past and present) ScienceBlogs people, as well as other scientists I know of online, some of whom are biologists or MDs. Additionally, he has held several significant jobs in the science journalism and publications fields, including, IIRC, a gig as an editor with PLoS.

I will say that this phrase from your quoted material:

... incredible implausibility of a link between cell phones and cancer ...

leads me to strongly suspect a heavily biased look at the issue.

I would characterize it as an informed and properly skeptical attitude, especially in light of his position and the considerable body of work that already exists in this field. (More on this at the end of the next part of this post.)

We do know after all that EM radiation does in fact have that effect.

I am not an expert, but my impression from the reading I've done is that we cannot make that sweeping a statement. Wavelength matters, as, of course, does intensity. It is due to this that Orac is moved to say "incredible implausibility." As are most others in the field, if perhaps not always in terms that plain.

[Continued next (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=190911#post190911) post, due to char limits]

bjkeefe
12-03-2010, 04:08 AM
[Continued from prev (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=190909#post190909) post]

To what degree the radiation from cell phones does I have no idea, though the reported data that cancers do occur on the side of the head to which users hold their phones leads me to think that the degree is very unlikely to be zero.

I think if you read the posts from IEEE and Orac in detail, you'll see there are good reasons to be dubious of these claims. Among other things, (1) the absolute numbers of tumors is very small (single digits per 100,000 people, IIRC), (2) cell-phone usage patterns were obtained from patients' self-reported recollections, which is always a less than ideal situation, and (3) to the extent that we can rely on this self-reporting, the study found a lower incidence of brain tumors for regular (as opposed to heavy) cell phone users compared to those who did not use them at all. Further, note that the study took several years to be released, due to disagreements among the participants about how to interpret the data and what could be concluded from it. My sense is that there were a few numbers which were suggestive, if looked at in a certain way, but not enough to give what one usually requires to say they were significant in a statistical sense. Orac's reminders about "subgroup analysis" bear consideration on this score -- as I'm sure you know, if one starts with a belief that there will be something to be seen in a large collection of numbers, it is likely that one will find something that looks interesting, with enough slicing and dicing of the data.

Given the economics involved and my jaundiced view of what people will do for money, I tend to think folks with biases toward claiming that the risk is zero or unworthy of study and determination are likely to considerably outnumber and outweigh in media reportage those folks who are reflexively alarmist.

A few years back, when the thought started being floated that cell phones could cause cancer, I had the same exact attitude, so I spent some time looking into it. While you are correct that we should be on the lookout for, say, Big Telco acting like Big Tobacco, I didn't find anything to support my suspicion.

Also in the time since, I have observed another phenomenon that makes me no longer agree with your statement about alarmists not having numbers or access to the media spotlight: the anti-vaccine crowd. In thinking about that one example, I came to realize that it is, in fact, rather easy these days for one to raise a great hue and cry about something, especially if one's message is "this causes cancer" or "this harms children." (See also, for example: "Teflon coating on frying pans gives you cancer," "putting Tupperware (variant: Saran Wrap) in microwave ovens gives you cancer.")

While I am still at least as jaundiced as you are when it comes to large companies and their priorities (cf., e.g., GE and PCBs, ExxonMobil and global warming denialism), I have to say that I feel a little bad when a scare story like one of the above gets legs, because how do you deal with it, if you're a big company? If you try to present work that rebuts it, you're inevitably going to be accused by people like us of having nefarious motivations. And given our inherent suspicions in this regard, we are even going to be prone to suspect government- and university-funded studies, because of the many other real connections between industry and these.

People seem to use cell phones to a degree that folks never used land line phones outside of certain work-specific cases. Why there is a perceived need to phone, text, or tweet every time one walks out of a door, eats a donut, or observes some daily banality is a mystery to me, but maybe that just says more about me.

I will say that, in a metaphorical sense, I sometimes think of cell phones themselves as a cancer on our society. I sure wouldn't mind if people did not feel compelled to be on them all the time myself. I don't at the moment even have (an active) one of my own, and I see no need to. So, I am not by any means motivated to pooh-pooh the Interphone study because I want people to continue using cell phones to the extent that they do. I just have a strong preference for being rational about science, scientific studies, claims about things that threaten us, and so on.

Risk is a funny thing. Some risks tend to aggregate, so although it may be difficult to control well enough to specify the exact risk from a single specific cause, the overall risk of a set of factors may be significant. We might also be aware of and accept certain specific risks and still reasonably chose to refuse others, despite an agrument that they are no greater.

I take your point. It is with this very idea in mind that I said what I did at that link (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=189434#post189434) in the SciSat thread: "... it's hard for me to believe, given how many people have had these things glued to their heads for the past twenty years, that if there were some causal connection between cell phones and brain cancer, it wouldn't have become more apparent by now."

And there is the further problem that, as the man sang (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oDAkmfoAgA), everything gives you cancer. In other words, we'll probably never be able to say with 100% confidence that cell phones don't cause brain cancer, because people are going to get brain tumors, and how are we to rule out with complete certainty a given cause in each case? Especially if one begins a study assuming there must be a specific causal link?

So, in conclusion, my attitude about the possible cell phone/brain cancer linkage is this: so far, we don't have evidence to support the existence of a link. We have numerous studies that give a null result (i.e., do not support a hypothesized link), and we have the consensus of people who specialize in the field is that there isn't a known mechanism. So, we're in a position, ultimately, of trying to prove a negative, and as such, while we shouldn't completely close our minds, we should start by being skeptical of single studies that claim to contradict what's already been established with quite a bit of confidence. In other words, of all the things to worry about, this appears to belong near the bottom of the list.

==========

[Added]

BTW, while looking for something else, I came across these two links from the National Cancer Institute (part of the NIH): "NCI Statement: International Study Shows No Increased Risk of Brain Tumors from Cell Phone Use (http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/Interphone2010Results)" and a Q&A type thing, "Cell Phones and Cancer Risk (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/cellphones)." The first one addresses the Interphone study in particular; the second is more general.

Also, via Dave Noon's post (http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2010/11/more-from-the-tinfoil-hat-brigade) that I mentioned earlier (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=189434#post189434), you might see this (PDF) (http://www.emfandhealth.com/12265_COMAR_2009.pdf): "COMAR Technical Information Statement: Expert Reviews on Potential Health Effects of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields and Comments on the Bioinitiative Report," for a more detailed review of the literature on "biological effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, including radiofrequency (RF) energy." This was originally published in the Oct 2009 (http://hps.org/hpspublications/journalarchive/127-2009.html) issue of Health Physics Journal (http://www.hps.org/hpspublications/).

One more: the site hosting the PDF mentioned above also has a detailed look (http://www.emfandhealth.com/InterphoneStudy.html) at the Interphone study. It includes a link to an article published in Nature, "No link found between mobile phones and cancer (http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100517/full/news.2010.246.html)."

cragger
12-03-2010, 11:52 AM
Pheew. Your interest and time spent looking at this certainly exceeds mine by a wide margin. I very seldom use a cell phone, am not on a crusade to spread the word that "if you use one you're gonna die!", and in fact suspect that if you care what I think about the risks involved that makes you a minority of one.

That said, you need to add duration to frequency and intensity as a factor in the effects of radiation. (e.g. one chest x-ray is a small though non-zero risk, but having 10,000 chest x-rays is not a good idea). Cell phones only started coming into wide use in the last 15 years or so such that people are calling each other constantly knowing that the recipient of the call will have a phone with them regardless of time and place. Had someone done a study of the effects of smoking 10 or 15 years after the introduction of cigarettes it might well have shown no conclusive linkage to cancers, despite the relationship apparantly being much stronger.

My thoughts are that there is likely a small, non-zero risk associated with exposure to cell phone radiation. Just how small being as yet undetermined. As the NCI link you posted notes:

Interphone also illustrates how difficult it is to identify and corroborate, or definitively rule out, any possible association ...

which is the typical case when trying to determine a linkage due to a low level risk of a result that can occur from other causes as well. I do object to the implied conclusion of the NCI article you link as given in the title:

NCI Statement: International Study Shows No Increased Risk of Brain Tumors from Cell Phone Use

when the body of the text says:

for the small proportion of study participants who used cell phones the most – measured as cumulative call time over their lifetime – there was a suggestion of increased risk of glioma, though the authors call this finding inconclusive

and includes such things as:

The investigators also say more studies are needed to assess risk associated with long-term heavy use. ... Results from other epidemiologic studies have been inconsistent and have not addressed adequately many questions regarding cancer and other adverse health effects of cell phone use, particularly among children or heavy or long-term users of cell phones. ... [and that relative to older studies often involving early analog phones] Interphone’s findings are also more relevant to digital phones, the most common type in use today worldwide ...

While I appreciate that serious researchers are properly cautious about representing findings, especially when they are rather inconclusive, I think publicly representing this data as "your cell phone is completely safe" is as false and misleading as representing it as "your cell phone will kill you".

Which comes back to that question of risk, and aggregation of risk. The "everything causes cancer so why worry about it" factor. It seems quite likely that there are a number of things in modern life that increase risk of various cancers and other health impacts. Isolating and proving conclusively that factor x increases the rate of some cancer or other impact y from five people in a hundred thousand to seven or ten people is an incredibly difficult task. Collectively, and possibly taken in combination, the health effects of these factors may be very significant.

People often dismiss as nonexistant risks we chose to accept. I doubt that many drunk drivers ever think they might kill someone, but that it's worth the risk to drive home anyhow. They just assume that they will make the trip uneventfully, and lets face it, they generally do. We as a society find this particularly objectionable because they subject others to an increased risk.

What is an acceptable degree of risk? I don't think there is any set answer. If someone were to put on a blindfold, pull out a handgun, and spin around three times and fire while standing on the 50 yard line at the superbowl the risk of any particular spectator being hit would be very low, yet even the skydivers in the crowd would object. Again, this is not only because of the added risk to their lives, but partly because the risk is not one of their own choosing and over which they have any control, though it may not be greater than other risks in their lives that they might accept.

All of which by way of saying (and a long way it has been to be sure) that from a philosophical perspective as well as the aggregated risk perspective it is more objectionable to have an outside agency, be it the cell phone industry, tobacco industry, the government installing scanners at airports, with train, ship, and bus stations presumably to follow, all insisting "the risks we subject you to are by our judgement small and therefore inconsequential".

Having rambled this digressively already, I'll throw in one more thing here. I recently heard a discussion of an emerging trend in at least part of the constantly-connected subculture. That is, while it is de rigueur to text fifty times a day, it is in some circles becoming considered rude to actually telephone anyone. While it may be commonplace to interrupt a meal and grab your phone to read that Suzie is wearing the new socks she just bought at the mall, that is considered a choice made by the recipient who could always read accumulated texts at their convenience, while an actual voice call need be answered immediately, at the time of the caller's chosing. The relevant point (which you are surely doubting exists by now) is the 4 x Pi x r**2 reduction in energy density at the skull when the phone is held a couple feet away to be read rather than slapped up alonside the ear. Too bad about those Bluetooth earpiece users, but they looked silly anyway.

bjkeefe
12-03-2010, 12:10 PM
[...]

Noted. I don't agree with the analogies/examples about small risks you offer, but they, and the small differences in how we interpret what has been said in this one study, don't seem worth bickering over.

Starwatcher162536
12-03-2010, 04:59 PM
This is something that is reasonable to give a risk assessment of infinitesimal but non-zero risk until a plausible mechanism is put forth for how cell phones cause cancer. Cell phones frequency band is 800-900ish Mhz which corresponds to photons around one hundred thousandth of an eV. Even the most easily ionized atoms need about 3 eV to chemically react. The only thing physiological response to cell phones should be dielectric heating, but this is ?indistinguishable? from normal heating. So I would think the non-zero risk from cell phones should be many orders of magnitude smaller then the random fluxes of heat we all experience in our day to day lives. There are much much larger health risk fish to fry; ones that we accept with impunity after no thought.

...and yes bjkeefe's post were pretty crazy. I think more work went into those two posts then my last 25 posts.

Ocean
12-03-2010, 05:02 PM
...and yes bjkeefe's post were pretty crazy. I think more work went into those two posts then my last 25 posts.

Crazy? I thought it was great.

bjkeefe
12-03-2010, 08:29 PM
Noted. I don't agree with the analogies/examples about small risks you offer, but they, and the small differences in how we interpret what has been said in this one study, don't seem worth bickering over.

I would like to clarify my position a bit, because though I do not want to bicker endlessly about this, I also don't want to suggest what I think the above might suggest. To that end, then:

A small part of me is bugged by the thought that no matter how many "inconclusive"* studies we do, we will not manage to get people to agree that there is an uncountably larger number of other things to worry about, all of which are more of a threat to human health. And so, if we too readily concede that we can't be sure (because we can't prove a negative), when it comes to further studies, I think of the opportunity cost. That is, I have to wonder what other research isn't getting done as a consequence of continuing to do studies looking for a link between cell phones and brain cancer.

If it is free to do so, in the sense that money can be gotten for monitoring possible cell phone usage-related effects on human beings that would not be given for any other reason, then of course I'd say, why not? But I think that in most cases, the research dollars come out of a pool and those pools are always limited.

I also think that even if there is some small effect, such that another tumor or two presents in every 100,000 people, far more people are at risk of being killed or seriously hurt in car crashes due to their cell phones than that. And we already know that. So, I guess I am also bugged by the loss of perspective that tends to creep into these discussions.

==========
* I use irony quotes there because I do not think it is fair to call the Interphone study inconclusive. I should probably read their report in full before forming a firm opinion, but in the meantime, the obvious flaws in the study as pointed out by people to whom I assign high credibility are, realistically, enough for me. Therefore, I would call the study another null result (in the strict statistical sense), not an inconclusive one.