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Cell Phone / Brain

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Cell Phone / Brain

"Suit over Cellular Radiation Raises Hazard Questions," read a headline in The Los Angeles Times, January 21, 1993.

It referred to a lawsuit against the cell phone industry by David Reynard of Tampa, FL, over the death of his wife Susan from a brain tumor.

This set off a frenzy in the cell phone industry.  An industry research team was assembled, headed by Dr. George Carlo.

Due to Dr. Carlo's previous work, the cell phone industry believed he'd make a reliable ally.  In a previous assignment, he'd led research on breast implants, funded by Dow Corning, without rocking the boat.


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"Not Going to Be a Shill"

This assignment turned out to be different, though.  Referenced in his book, "Cell Phones - Invisible Hazards of the Wireless Age," his frame of mind at the time of his appointment is described: "Carlo knew, deep down, he was not going to be a shill; but then again, truth be told, he always thought, deep down, that his research project would conclude what the early studies and the cell phone industry had always asserted - that there was no evidence that wireless phones caused cancer."

It was in this frame of mind that Dr. Carlo in 1993 began his research project on cell phone brain dangers, sponsored by the cell phone industry itself.  Little did they or he know that things would not turn out the way anyone had expected at the onset.

Letter to the CEO's of the Cellular Phone Industry

In February of 1999, at the end of Dr. Carlo's assignment, he gave a briefing to the board of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) on his findings regarding cell phone brain dangers.  Four months later, when it became apparent that the industry was still doing nothing in response to his findings, he wrote a letter to the CEO's of the cellular phone industry.  This is an excerpt from that letter, again quoted from Dr. Carlo's book, Cell Phones - Invisible Hazards of the Wireless Age:

"At that [February, 1999] briefing, I explained that the well-conducted scientific studies that the WTR [Wireless Technology Research, L.L.C.] was overseeing indicated that the question of wireless phone safety had become confused.

Specifically, I reported to you that:

the rate of death from brain cancer among handheld phone users was higher than the rate of brain cancer death among those who used non-handheld phones that were away from their head;
the risk of acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor of the auditory nerve that is well in a range of the radiation coming from a phone's antenna, was 50 percent higher in people who reported using cell phones for six years or more; moreover, that relationship between the amount of cell phone use and this tumor appeared to follow a dose-response curve;
the risk of rare neuro-epithelial tumors on the outside of the brain was more than doubled, a statistically significant risk increase, in cell phone users as compared to people who did not use cell phones;
there appeared to be some correlation between brain tumors occurring on the right side of the head and the use of the phone on the right side of the head;
laboratory studies looking at the ability of radiation from a phone's antenna to cause functional genetic damage were definitively positive, and were following a dose-response relationship."

Recourse for Mitigating Cell Phone Brain Dangers

At the end of his book, Dr. Carlo gives the following advice to minimize cell phone brain dangers.  I paraphrase:

1) Use a headset, earpiece or speakerphone to keep the antenna away from the head.

2) If the above suggestions are not an option for you, then make sure you keep the antenna fully extended when speaking on the phone.  If the antenna is recessed within the phone, then the entire phone functions as an antenna which greatly increases the radiation exposure.

3) Children under ten should not use any type of wireless technology.  For children over ten, pagers are suggested over cell phones.

4) Do not use your cell phone in areas of low signal strength.  The lower the signal strength, the more radiation has to be emitted by the cell phone in order to connect with an available cell tower.

5) Recommendation number five listed by Dr. Carlo has nothing to do with cell phone radiation but simply concerns the common sense notion of not talking on a handheld cell phone while driving for safety reasons.



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