Massive Cell Phone Radiation Study Has CriticsMay 3, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP
How dangerous is cell phone radiation? Unfortunately, the jury is still out on that question. Last year, some used the findings of the World Health Organization's InterPhone study to insist that there was no connection between exposure to cell phone radiation and brain cancer. But almost as soon as it was published last May, others criticized InterPhone for a number of flaws, including bias.
InterPhone, which began in 2000, was funded by the telecommunications industry. It involved 13,000 people in numerous countries, and found that overall, the data did not point to an increased risk of glioma or meningioma – types of brain tumors – from cell phone radiation. However, the findings did point to a possible increased risk of glioma among the study's heaviest cell phone users. Even the InterPhone's authors said more study was needed to truly assess the effects of cell phone radiation.
Critics of the InterPhone study were quick to point out its flaws. Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote in a paper published last May that InterPhone underestimated the risk of brain cancer from cell phone radiation. In the paper, Moskowitz points out that most of the InterPhone data were collected between 2000 and 2004, when people didn’t use their cell phones as much as they do today. Today, most U.S. cell phone users would fall into the InterPhone study’s “high risk” category after about 13 years of use, he argues.
“Based upon… analysis by the Interphone investigators, cell phone use may increase gliomas by 12,000 to 21,000 cases per year in the U.S.,” Moskowitz writes.
In another paper published the same month, the International Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Collaborative faulted the credibility of the InterPhone study.
“The long delay in publishing only partial results, combined with industry funding, has deeply damaged the credibility of the Interphone Study. Millions of dollars/euros have been spent (the greater proportion being public money), and years have been wasted, years when cell phone use exploded.”
Like Moskowitz, the Collaborative faulted the lag between the time data for InterPhone was collected, and the actual publication of the study. The Collaborative paper also points out that much the data collected was never included in the study.
Other faults cited by the EMF Collaborative include the fact that risk wasn’t broken down by sex, which had it been, may have detected a higher risk of meningiomas in women. They also point out that children - whose developing brains might be more susceptible to cell phone radiation - weren't included at all.