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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cell Phones and Cancer--The Absence of Evidence is Not Evidence of Absence

More from the Integrative Healthcare Symposium,  February  9-11 2012, Dr Devra Lee Davis, PhD, author of Disconnect

Cell Phones and Cancer--The Absence of Evidence is Not Evidence of Absence


As I mentioned in Cancer Tips, Devra Lee Davis, PhD delivered a powerful and frightening message presenting her research on the use of wireless technology.  Contrary to firmly held beliefs, invisible radio frequency radiation can alter living cells and create the same types of damage that we know increase the risk of cancer and neurological disease.  Davis spoke of her conversation with the late Dr David Servan –Schrieber, author of Anti-cancer, A New Way of Life.  His response to her research was disbelief.  “If that were true, we’d know about it!’ At the time he was a brain cancer patient in remission, and a heavy cell phone user.  After hearing her out, he joined her efforts in getting the word out.
Cell phones are two -way microwave radio that changes brain cells and alters glucose levels (the brain’s main fuel).  Since a brain tumor utilizes excessive amounts of glucose, changes in glucose utilization may be a key mechanism to support tumor growth.  Even short-term exposure to nerve cells from cell phones can increase glucose in the brain.  Thankfully, our DNA works to repair and prevent damage to our cells from becoming permanent.  So, if the body is capable of repairing itself, then why the worry? The system can fail, and cancers do develop.   Medical science now understands that because the causes of chronic diseases can take decades to be detected, we should not wait for the definitive human evidence.  If we want to prevent human harm, we have to rely on experimental studies to predict risk rather than using human studies to prove that harm has already happened.  In fact, there are a few dozen compounds that we know definitely cause cancer in humans, and these cancers developed after years of exposure.    Determined to prevent harm, rather than to confirm its occurrence, scientists experiment on animals in order to prevent future human harm, not in order to prove why past damage has already occurred.
Davis mentioned a study by Henry Lai, done with rats—the DNA from the cells of the brains of the radio-frequency-radiation-exposed rats was not normal, it was broken--the broken brain cells found in these animals were the same as those known to occur in cancer. To remain healthy, DNA needs to remain intact.  This, by the way, was in 1994.  Plus, if the same area is assaulted over and over again, repair may not happen as easily or at all, the impacts may not be fixable. While yes, DNA can often be repaired, and yes, we have anti-oxidants that can do this (another good reason to eat those fruits and vegetables…remember when I commented that diet can often trump environmental toxins? This is a good example), we need to address the carcinogens, not rely on band-aids and the hope that the DNA will be repaired.
While the long-term implications of cell phone use are still to be determined, Dr. Davis says there is particular reason for concern for children because cell phone radiation penetrates the skulls of children more deeply than those of adults, and that their brains are still developing until they are past the teen years. Children may be more vulnerable because of their developing nervous system, the greater absorption of energy in the tissues of the head, and a longer lifetime exposure.  Keep in mind that cell phones were made for the SAM…standard anthropomorphic (average) male.  Children’s skulls and bone marrow are thinner and much more absorptive than those of adults—a fact that explains why children’s heads can absorb double or more the radio frequency energy of adults’ heads. Just as CT scans are supposed to be adjusted for children, likely so should other radiation-damaging devices. She also mentioned studies that show people who use the cell phones for ten years have double the risk of developing brain cancer. Children who start using the cell phone during their teen years have 4 to 5 times the risk of getting brain cancer by the time they hit their twenties; so what does that mean for young children? She stressed that the need for more research is not an excuse to use our children as guinea pigs.  Remember that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  Just because it hasn’t been proven harmful doesn’t mean it is safe. 
The need for more research in this field is one fact upon which all parties have usually agreed.  The absence of research has become part of the rationale for making not changes in the meantime.  Plenty of research has shown that radiation from cell phones can disturb the DNA deep within the center of brain cells and in 1993, the FDA concluded that several studies showed that microwave radiation increased cancer risk.  Despite this having evidence of this in 1994, the FDA approved cell phones for general use without any safety testing at all.  The FDA took it upon themselves to ignore the risks and approve cell phone sales without so much as even a warning to users.  There have been numerous studies done since, and the debate continues.

These days you will find warning notices buried deep in tiny print in the owners guides that come with cell phones and laptops.   However, given the risks, should these warnings not be made sufficiently obvious?  After all, does not the name “laptop” infer that one might expect to use it on their lap?  The fine print suggests you do otherwise.  I recently bought a new Iphone.  I will not say I read the “important Product Information Guide”; the print was far too small.  However, after hearing Davis speak, I pulled it out, put it under a bright light, and sure enough, it recommends that you limit usage and not use or carry the device directly against your body. I then pulled out the three safety guides that come with the Verizon LG phones.  Again, I did not read these warnings when I purchased the phone, mostly as I figured what could be new?  However, looking at them now, they all basically say that there is no proof that cell phones pose a danger, but one might want to consider limiting usage and keeping the phone a safe distance from your body.  However, the information provided seems quite biased (perhaps we should look into who funded the studies they mention), and after all, these phones must be safe, they are FDA approved.  Need I say more? No, but I will.  In the Verizon booklet they do mention “that groups in other nations have advised that children be discouraged from using cell phones at all”. How long will it take for those in the US to suggest this…hopefully not another twenty years. One study that was cited in support of cell phones was one done in the UK, but clearly there are others in the UK that suggest otherwise.  
Davis also mentioned that in countries such as Italy and Israel where cell phone usage was more aggressive that that in the US, government warnings about the dangers of cell phone and WIFI are issued quite loudly.  She also said that insurance companies here in the US refuse to provide coverage to cell phone companies and operators in the case of claims of health damage from long-term operation of their devices, and that in other countries, companies are being sued for the health issues of employees whose jobs depended on cell phone use….and are losing.
The fact that we do not have clear answers to this question at this point is not an accident.  After all, there is big money in cell phone sales, and while early studies were funded by none other than the makers of the devices, when things started to look ominous for them, not surprisingly, funding for studies dried up.   Cell phones were exciting when they were introduced, and we can’t imagine living without them today.  They help us stay connected and help us in emergencies.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to find ways to make the devices less harmful?  But then again, they would have to acknowledge the need.  Thankfully, there are some interim solutions.

Recommendations:
·         Never put a cell phone to your ear, use a handset.  (Wireless and wired headsets may still conduct radiation but are better than nothing).  Try one of those new/old handsets instead (think the hand set of an old phone…retro-style, made by Moshi and others). Pong makes a case that claims to be protective and that Dr Devra recommends, but she strongly advises the use of a handset (I am now sporting a hot-looking royal blue Moshi, and oh the wonderful compliments I receive!)
·         Try to keep your cell phone at least 6-7 inches away from your body while it is on or when you are talking, texting, or downloading
·         Text more often and when doing so hold the phone away from your body or on some kind of barrier, such as a book.  Texting creates less radiation than talking on the phone
·         Face the front of the phone (the keypad) towards your body, as the antennas are at the back
·         Avoid using your phone when the signal is weak.  The weaker the signal, the more the exposure
·         Children and pregnant women should avoid talking on cell phones
·         Do not keep your cell phone near your head or use it to play games, movies, etc.  Turn it off when it is not in use
·         Never carry your cell phone in your pocket or in your bra, or on your hip. The bone marrow in your hip produces 80% of the body’s red blood cells and is especially vulnerable to EMR damage.
·         Men should keep their cell phone turned off when in their pockets.   Research has shown that putting the cell phone in the pants pocket is associated with reduction in sperm count and increased sperm damage
·         No wireless for kids
·         Do not place electronic toys in the laps of babies
·         Replace as many cordless and WiFi items as you can with wired, corded lines (phones, Internet, games, appliances, devices, etc)
·         Sit as far back from the computer screen as possible; flat screens are preferable.  Use wired Internet connections, not WiFi—especially for laptops
·         Do not put your lap top on your lap
·         Move your alarm clock radio at least three feet from your head or use a battery-powered clock; six feet is the recommended distance for you to be from all electronic devices during sleep
·         Avoid waterbeds, electric blankets, and metal frames, which attract electromagnetic frequencies.  Futons and wood-framed beds are better than metal-coiled mattresses and box springs.
·         Avoid using your phone on trains or in elevators as this may increase exposure
Dr Davis played a fun you-tube at the conference; it’s a quirky link, but if interested, the link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZs6R9MgstI
Cancer is not the only issue here; cell phone radiation can also affect fertility by lowering sperm counts now, and for generations to come, which gets back to Jeffrey Bland’s trans-generational theory I mentioned in Cancer Tips . Neither the danger nor the safety of cell phones is yet certain.  How we manage that uncertainty is up to us.  

To learn more about the history and dangers of electronic pollution, as well as the studies done in the past 20+ years, please read:
Disconnect, by Devra Lee Davis or Zapped:  Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,238 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution, by Ann Louise Gittleman
Elyn Jacobs
elynjacobs.blogspot.com
elynjacobs.wordpress.com

Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation, a certified cancer coach and a breast cancer survivor.  Elyn helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and educates to prevent recurrence and new cancers.  She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services, please visit:  http://elynjacobs.wordpress.com

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