Bloomberg Gets It Wrong on the $25 Million Dollar Cell Phone Cancer Study

In a June 2, 2016 Bloomberg interview Faye Flam was brought on to comment on the National Toxicology Program Study where she said it was like “the studies that showed coffee was good or bad.” Bloomberg also ran an earlier piece by Faye Flam entitled, “Cell Phones and the Anatomy of a Cancer Scare.” Faye Flam is a columnist who focuses on sex and evolution. In response, Dr. Devra Davis wrote a letter to Bloomberg. See the letter below.
June 10, 2016 Letter to Bloomberg 

Contrary to Faye Flams’ comments in Bloomberg’s May 27, 2016 article, the National Toxicology Cell Phone Radiation Rodent study is not “just another study” with “just a few rats.” It is the world’s largest study of its kind to date. The results are not, as Flam stated, “hard to interpret.”

The carcinogenic effects seen in the $ 25 million NTP study —specifically rare cancers of the brain and nerves of the heart– occurred from low level radiofrequency radiation exposures that do not induce heat as NTP Associate Director John Bucher stated in the May 27, 2016 Press conference. Current cell phone regulations based on the outdated assumption that heating is the only harm that can come from radiofrequency radiation will now have to change.
Scientific Briefing at the Israel Institute for Advanced Study of the Hebrew University

Acknowledging the validity of the NTP results, American Cancer Society Vice President Otis Brawley speculates that newer phone technology than what was tested by the NTP might prove safer as it involves lower-power. However, these untested new devices also involve greater variations in pulsed signaling in comparison to those studied by the NTP. Experimental studies indicate that the pulse of the signals may well prove to be more biologically important than their power. With multiple exposures to multiple devices (each of which can have many antennas) taking place in schools around the world, the combined effect of such microwave radiation exposures is a matter of serious concern, especially in light of these new findings from the nation’s premiere test program. Animals that served as controls in the NTP study of cell phone radiation had the same food, lighting and housing designed to block all forms of electromagnetic radiation, as those that were exposed to the radiation. Yet not a single one of these controls developed the rare tumors that were increased in the exposed animals.

The fact that historical controls had a few of these cancer is not relevant to this new NTP study and may well reflect the fact that they lived in housing without such radiation blocking materials.

Cancers found in the NTP rats parallel the same types of tumors found in epidemiological studies on humans. Several research studies show increased risks for gliomas and schwannomas after long-term use of cell phones. As the NTP stated, “These findings appear to support the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) conclusions regarding the possible carcinogenic potential of RFR.”

In a second, June 2, 2016 Bloomberg article, Flam features Chris Adami’ claim that the NTP study failed to evaluate whether there was damage to the DNA of the exposed animals. In fact, NTP researchers did look at DNA damage- and found it. The NTP presented findings on June 8, 2016 at the BIOEM Conference. Their preliminary data with comet assay showed a statistically significant trend in RF-induced DNA damage in rat & mice brain. In a Science Magazine article Bucher confirms that, “there was more DNA damage in some of the rodents that received the highest radiation levels.” As noted on page 3 of the released NTP Report, the results are soon to be published in the paper “Evaluation of the genotoxicity of cell phone radiofrequency radiation in male and female rats and mice following subchronic exposure.”

The NTP study provides a wake up call to a world growing increasingly dependent on a technology that has never been evaluated for safety. A number of countries including the high-tech nations of Israel, France and India advise their citizens to reduce exposure and employ wired devices in schools and homes. Even before this recent study, the City of Haifa had ordered the removal of Wi-Fi from their schools, concerned about earlier scientific evidence of risk from cell phone and other wireless transmitting devices.

The manager of the computing infrastructure department of the Haifa Municipality, Reuben Kurman, explained to me last week that the 2011 declaration of the World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer that such radiation was a “possible human carcinogen” was sufficient to spur precautionary actions:

“We developed in-house methods for how to install wired rather than wi-fi. It would have cost us a lot of money to give to any sub-contractor, so we developed an in-house capacity on how to develop wired in schools, without sub-contractors, for computer rooms, classes and every space.”

Verizon Telecom 10 K Liability image10K Reports from wireless companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Microsoft have, for years, indicated that they face financial liability from potential health damages from radio frequency electromagnetic exposures. This new study makes it clear this liability is real. The Emerging Risks team at Swiss Re, in its SONAR Emerging Risks report, 2013, which covers risks that could “impact the insurance industry in the future” categorizes the impact of health claims related to electromagnetic fields (EMFs)  as “high impact” because, “If a direct link between EMF and human health problems were established, it would open doors for new claims and could ultimately lead to large losses under product liability covers.” Where is the cost benefit analysis on the actual returns from these technological investments into wireless which considers the long term economic cost ?


An indication that some businesses are responding to the increasing scientific evidence indicating serious health risks is the fact that one of China’s largest manufacturers of routers now markets one with a “baby-safe mode”—voice-activated to the lowest level needed. Consumers can even go online and purchase radiation protection underwear and bras with special radiation shielded pockets for carrying cell phones.

The benefits of wireless technology are obvious and undeniable, but the need to redesign software and hardware to lower exposures to the lowest levels attainable, install wired connections at home and school and retain landlines is now also obvious. Disputing details of this complex, well-designed study is an ill-advised effort to postpone the inevitable: companies stand to profit mightily through implementing advances as soon as possible in hardware and software to reduce radiation to levels that are As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) – a concept applied to diagnostic radiology today.

Click here to Get the Facts on the NTP Study


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