Big Cellcos: Big tobacco repeating itself?

Big Cellcos: Big tobacco repeating itself?

Summary: Over on Anchordesk, my colleague and CNET senior editor Molly Wood has reopened the debate over the dangers of cell phone use by citing some disturbing parallels -- including whistleblowing and attempts to supress relevant evidence -- between the cell phone and tobacco industries.

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TOPICS: Mobility
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Over on Anchordesk, my colleague and CNET senior editor Molly Wood has reopened the debate over the dangers of cell phone use by citing some disturbing parallels -- including whistleblowing and attempts to supress relevant evidence -- between the cell phone and tobacco industries. I can't tell you how glad I am that I read it, and

Topic: Mobility

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  • Tell The Whole Story

    Where's the meat? (in this story) Has it been dissolved by the constant exposure to microwave radiation like the skulls and brains of those I see in the cancer clinics everyday? Some published Whistle Blower should insist on telling the whole story about MicroWave Radiation and its effect/s on the human body. Why not tell those who want to avoid disaster rather than flirt with it just how much of a problem this kind of exposure is? According to the findings of RELIABLE Scientists, those who are NOT directly or indirectly funded by the deep money-pockets of the wireless industry, even carrying a 'live' cell-phone (one that is turned on and ready to send and receive) close to your body has detrimental health effects. AND, even using a wired headset does NOT entirely eliminate the dangerous effects. At present, the ONLY safe use of a live cell phone is to use its speakerphone option while keeping the phone away from your body.
    Cause and Effect
    • Your story is not correct

      You need to cite a reputable study to back up your claim that, "even carrying a 'live' cell-phone (one that is turned on and ready to send and receive) close to your body has detrimental health effects." People can (and do) claim whatever they want, but verifying it is another story. ZDNET has to be responsible and not make unsubstantiated claims.

      If you read the link near the top of the story(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4113989.stm) it says that, "Radio waves from mobile phones do harm body cells and damage DNA, a laboratory study has shown. But the European Union-funded Reflex research did not prove such changes were a risk to human health. "

      As an engineer who has worked in the radiation monitoring industry, there has not been any evidence of biological cell or DNA mutations as are caused by much, much higher frequency radiation (X-rays). The only effect has been a heating effect, as in microwave ovens. Sure if the power absorbed is high enough it can and will damage cells, but that is not a long-term risk to human health.

      Sure, it is *possible* that harmful effects may be discovered in the future. Anything's possible. (Then you may as well live in a bubble.) But as far as we know now, there are none, and to stipulate otherwise is simply wrong.

      On the other hand, it is better to be safe than sorry, so I cannot disagree that excessive cell phone use may not be advisable. But give people the true facts (sort of redundant) and let them make their own choices.
      edjsch
      • Engineered White Washing

        Your story occurs to me to be just that much more Tobacco Industry Type Denial. Especially effective is the con man type of physiologically discouraging invitation to read a partially quoted article AS IF the whole of the erectile supports your opinion and there's nothing disagreeable therein.

        Such is certainly not the case with the foregoing. It clearly states, as do many other research findings and the empirical evidence of tissue devastation with which ardent cell-phone are presenting in clinical settings on a daily basis, that, "They found that, after being exposed to electromagnetic fields, the cells showed a significant increase in DNA damage which could not always be repaired by the cell.

        Damage was also seen in the next generation of cells. Mutated cells are seen as a possible cause of cancer.

        The study, which has not been published in a journal, also reported other harmful effects on cells.

        The radiation used in the study was at Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) levels of between 0.3 and 2 watts per kilogram.

        The SAR is the rate at which the body absorbs emissions from the phone handset.

        Most phones emit radio signals at SAR levels of between 0.5 and 1 W/kg."

        So, no matter what kind of "proof" engineers 'require' before they personally take precautionary measures to preserve their health and well-being, for those who would rather be safe than regretfully sorry they over-exposed themselves to the cause of their newly acquired low-dose-radiation cancer, going along with the tired old axiom that "there's no need to worry about taking any defensive action until the 'experts' tell you to do so." Tell that to all of those people with lung embolisms who waited for the Tobacco Industry Experts to verify that there was any cancer-causing health-risk with using their product.

        The simple truth that people really NEED to consider is that EVERYONE who is a stake-holder or who is gainfully associated with a particular industry ALWAYS seems to say, "there's nothing to be concerned about (until it's proved otherwise)" and then it's TOO LATE!
        Cause and Effect
  • Can't compare the two issues

    The cell phone scare is more like the asbestos scare or the silicon breast implant scare. Lots of lawyers, very little science. It can't be compared tobacco since it's blatantly obvious for decades what it does to your lungs. Of course, it?s not really any worse than stuffing your arteries with big macs.

    As of yet, there is zero credible scientific evidence of the dangers of cell phones. There were some poorly conducted attention grabbing studies done, but none have stood up to good peer review. For the time being, it?s just junk science and a good money machine for lawyers.
    george_ou
    • The analogy is good, after a more careful reading

      The analogy David is drawing here is not between the threat to health posed by tobacco and a possible threat posed by cell phone radiation, but between the behaviors of the companies when confronted with the possibility that such threats exist.

      There are hints of evidence that cell phone radiation may pose dangers-

      the most recent cell phone radiation studies (which demonstrate DNA damage that scientists aren't yet concerned about)
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4113989.stm

      "Radio waves from mobile phones do harm body cells and damage DNA, a laboratory study has shown. But the European Union-funded Reflex research did not prove such changes were a risk to human health. "


      No, it did not even address that issue - this is a stepwise process, and the first step is to demonstrate the harm to cells and the damage to DNA. Additional research will be required to demonstrate that the harm and damage actually aggregates to a risk to human health.

      "They found that, after being exposed to electromagnetic fields, the cells showed a significant increase in DNA damage which could not always be repaired by the cell.
      Damage was also seen in the next generation of cells. Mutated cells are seen as a possible cause of cancer.
      The study, which has not been published in a journal, also reported other harmful effects on cells."

      This does not "demonstrate" a risk to human health. It only demonstrated conditions which plausibly suggest a strong possibility that such risk exists, and the need for further research.

      "The radiation used in the study was at Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) levels of between 0.3 and 2 watts per kilogram.
      The SAR is the rate at which the body absorbs emissions from the phone handset.
      Most phones emit radio signals at SAR levels of between 0.5 and 1 W/kg."

      This suggests that a cell phone user who wishes to minimize the possibility of risk to their health will pay attention to how much radiation their cell phone emits, as measured by the SAR rating.

      Mr. Berlind's article deals with two main issues.
      First is the need for users to check the SAR rating in deciding what phone to purchase and use
      Second is the fact that the cell phone industry, instead of addressing the possible health threats honestly, has attempted and apparently is still working to suppress and deny the import of these findings.

      In this case, if dealing with an individual exhibiting similar behavior we would typically characterize them as evasive and even self-destructive. As a practitioner and consultant in strategic issues management, and a person investing technology companies, this kind of stupidity and duplicity (in any combination) significantly reduces my desire to invest in these companies.
      jpivonka@...