Is there clear evidence that radiation from mobile phones causes cancer?
On the 14th of July an article was published in the web page of The Guardian that was circulating all over the Internet. The article is titled “The inconvenient truth about cancer and mobile phones” and the authors state that even though the scientific peer review of a landmark United States government study concluded that there is “clear evidence” that radiation from mobile phones causes cancer, “Not one major news organisation in the US or Europe reported this scientific news. But then, news coverage of mobile phone safety has long reflected the outlook of the wireless industry.”
They say that the strategy of the wireless industry is to keep the argument on the safety going so that there is no certain answer if mobile-phone radiation causes cancer or not. But as they note “Lack of definitive proof that a technology is harmful does not mean the technology is safe, yet the wireless industry has succeeded in selling this logical fallacy to the world”.
As long as this article came to our attention, IEEE Region 8 Today contacted Ed Niehenke, the Ombudsman of IEEE Microwave Theory & Techniques Society asking for a comment. He kindly replied by not just sending a comment but a whole article that was published in issue 6 of volume 19 of the IEEE Microwave Magazine on the 3rd of August 2018 by Professor Emeritus James C. Lin from University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois United States titled “Clear Evidence of Cell-Phone RF Radiation Cancer Risk”.
I will take the risk and try to summarize what the article says even though it is not my field of expertise. I hope that if a member of MTT-s reads this article and has some comments, suggestions or corrections, to send us an email so that we publish them as soon as possible.
So, according to professor Lin’s article the claim that “wireless industry tries to keep the argument going” might be the case. That’s because even if the 44% of the studies are funded by wireless industry and research funded exclusively by industry reported the largest number of outcomes, these studies were least likely to report a statistically significant result compared with studies funded by public agencies or charities.
The method used in the National Toxicology Program (NTP) study is the reverberation chamber (RC) method where the exposure regime included 10-min on and 10-min off for 19 h/day for two years. Rats were exposed to cell-phone RF radiation for a total of 9 h each day. The SARs used were 0, 1.5, 3, or 6 W/kg. The current RF exposure guidelines of 1.6 or 2.0 W/kg are promulgated with a reduction factor of 50 as a safety margin. This means that the SARs used are well withing the limits of the safety guidelines.
On the other hand, Prof. Lin’s article exposures some flaws in the method that NTP used to conclude that there is clear evidence that radiation from mobile phones causes cancer. But he notes that “Nevertheless, it highlights that prolonged exposure to RF radiation at, or a little above, currently existing RF exposure regulation levels could lead to tumor development.”
And he concludes that:
“While complacencies abound for short-term exposure guidelines in terms of providing safety protection, an outstanding question persists concerning the adequacy of these guidelines for safe, long-term exposure to RF radiation at or below 1.6 or 2.0 W/kg. Perhaps the time has come to judiciously reassess, revise, and update these guidelines.”
An other fact is that Internet of Things and 5G technology is knocking the front door of our lives and maybe we have to consider which is more important, the refrigerator to order what food is about to expire automatically or the safety of our selves and our children.