July 29, 2018

Comment: Cellphones and cancer

We recently ran an excerpt from an article about how cellphones are a cause of cancer. Attorney John Gear offers these comments:

John Gear - I have studied some of the reports on this question a bit over the years.

It’s a very hard problem to study because contributors to very rare health problems are almost impossible to tease out with good confidence using the statistical approach in the absence of an understood causal mechanism.

Without an understood causal mechanism — a way to explain how low-energy (non-ionizing) radiation could affect DNA -- tying these rare tumors to cellphone non-ionizing radiation using statistical methods, if there is any tie, is much like trying to find, isolate, and analyze the sound made by one old lady’s walker in the middle of Times Square on Saturday night using a seismograph in Pennsylvania.

The strongest rebuttal argument to any connection between cellphones and cancers that I find is that do we have very good data about exposures (cellphone usage) over the complete period of exposure from day 1 of the industry, and we see no exponential increase in these rare cancers despite a worldwide exponential growth in exposure to cellphones.

We can say with high confidence that cellphones are killers, but mainly not of the cellphone users — cellphones kill through the mechanism of distracted drivers, typically mowing down pedestrians and bicyclists. (And the distraction has nothing to do with hands-free or not.) Whenever reading about epidemiological studies of rare things, it always pays to keep this site in mind

But, as the scientists like to say, more study is needed. Maybe there is an effect . . . 

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