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Mobiles: Could these be the cigarettes of the 21st century? . . . ‘Absolutely’
What is the issue? There is at the very least a hint that using a mobile phone frequently over ten years causes head tumours. The latency for these is between 10 and 20 years. We had better find out, because most people use mobiles, started using them frequently at around the same time (within about 5 to 10 years), and so if there is a problem it could be a very big one and emerge suddenly.
In January 2007 two new studies were set out for the 3rd round of the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) Programme:
In context, yet another study published Jan 2007 points to increased intracranial tumours after 10 years use, on the side mobiles are used. And this study once again defined ‘regular use’ as once a week for six months:
Every announcement of results from EMF studies closes with the phrase ‘but more research is needed’. Here is more research. No-one would dare to be conclusive. But similarly it is difficult to imagine what amount of research would be enough to stimulate an adequate response.
This has two simultaneous effects. First, it buys time for an industry that already knows there is a problem, by perpetuating uncertainty (as with tobacco, asbestos, dioxins, GM, CO2 and climate change). Second, it delays action for those most at risk, or already in trouble. Five years for an industry to mitigate damage to business is five years during which children are using mobile phones, and people are increasingly dependent on them, without any strong advice on protecting themselves from what is still described as a very minimal risk.
Professor Lawrie Challis, interviewed in The Times is surprisingly cautious, and advises:
In the light of analyses such a the Danish Interphone study, and the King’s College Psychosomatic Medicine work for MTHR, it is increasingly difficult to dare to come out with anything to the contrary; explaining the results has considerable impact on the global economy. Who wants to act first? It is the same argument as that of economic damage in responding to climate change. We need a ‘Stern Report’ on the global economic impact of health and mobile phones in 10 to 20 years time.
A definitive piece of research unequivocally shows that EM fields at surprisingly low levels can cause neurological and immunological disorders, even cancer. Further, the study is itself a true replication, verifying an earlier study. It is decided, for once, that ‘further research’ is not required for action to be taken, even if the biological mechanism is not fully understood.
This is announced on national media. What happens next?
You decide. A lot is at stake. Is it just a matter of being careful with a mobile phone? Or is it comparable to facing climate change by swapping our lightbulbs?
More on the MTHR programme
Professor Lawrie Challis chairs the MTHR (Mobile Telecommunciation and Health Research) programme in the UK. It is co-funded by government and the telecomms industry. Set up in 2003 in the light of the IEGMP findings, funding was quickly swallowed up, including programmes on communicating risk so that people do not get concerned. Here is not the place to criticise that programme, but some critical provocation studies (subjects in double blind trials of various states of EM exposure), such as that by King’s College (mobile phones) and Essex University (mast signals) have been commented upon heavily with regards to methodology and assumptions. The most significant feature of these studies has to be the quality and meaning of a ‘sham’ signal situation where certain thresholds of sensitivity are assumed.
Unfortunately, the MTHR programme has been unable to maintain its own website, and whilst some research has been completed and published, much remains inaccesible to many, in academic journals.
News coverage on the new MTHR mobile phone study