The Truth about Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Is Doing to Hide It, and What You Can Do to Protect Your Family
At the height of the Cold War sailors would stand next to radar installations on newly commissioned naval ships in order to make themselves infertile. In 1956 one of England’s leading epidemiologists found that X-rays of pregnant women increased the risk of childhood cancer. She was pilloried—then the findings were confirmed some thirty years later. After World War II doctors used X-rays to treat ring worm in infants. It removed the infection, but those irradiated were four times more likely to have a brain tumor by middle age. The common thread that binds these facts is radio frequency radiation, the exact same radiation currently being emitted by your cell phone, regardless of whether that phone is a smartphone or a dumbphone.
If only radio frequency radiation affected Cold War sailors, pregnant women, and World War II doctors, it would be easy to avoid. Unfortunately this is not the case. The radiation emitted by cell phones alters DNA in children and adults, and produces tumors. To our detriment it changes human and animal cells. It causes chronic disease, impedes learning, and impacts behavior. It also causes infertility. Radio frequency radiation especially causes cancer, one of the coming epidemics of our times.
Much of the evidence on the harm of cell phones comes from research centers outside of the United States, notably in Russia and Scandinavia, where cell phones have been used for a longer period of time, and where research funding has come from government rather than private companies, allowing for some research without industry interference.
At the University of Athens in Greece scientists taught rats how to escape drowning by swimming to a platform. They then placed store-bought cell phones, Wi-Fi transmitters, and baby monitors under the cages where the rats lived. After just one hour the experiment was repeated. The rats were unable to remember where the platform was or how to save themselves from drowning. Instead they swam aimlessly in circles. They further found that the brains of baby rats whose mothers were exposed to cell phone radiation during pregnancy were physically different at the cellular level.
In Sweden much research is being carried out on the links between neurology and radiation. Initially, Swedish researchers studied radio frequency radiation as a way to open up the blood–brain barrier, allowing chemotherapy drugs to reach the brain in cancer patients. In the 1990s they successfully opened up this barrier with directed radio frequency radiation enabling chemicals in the blood to reach the brain in people with brain cancer. The key finding was that this form of radiation relaxed the blood–brain barrier. However, this was not without a significant downside: once this barrier is breached anything circulating in the body to reach the brain, including drugs, toxic chemicals, second-hand smoke, and diesel fumes. Their hypothesis is that regular exposure to cell phone radiation will allow harmful substances to move from the body to the brain.
This theory was tested on animals who were subjected to two hours of 2G and 3G cell phone radiation. They were much less able to complete simple tasks at which they normally excelled, they had significant defects in learning, and two months later the boy rats remained less smart. The researchers then examined the genes and DNA of these rats, finding direct brain damage and a greater chance of growing and acting in unusual ways. After just two hours a day of cell phone radiation for one week the genes used to repair the regular attacks of daily life were severely impaired. They also showed evidence of forgetfulness, senility, and memory loss. The Swedish team concluded their research by noting that the use of cell phones by children is unlikely to produce any obvious, dramatic, or immediate changes to health. However, in the long term it can result in reduced brain reserve capacity leading to later neuronal disease. It cannot be excluded that after decades a whole generation may experience negative effects in middle age.
Although everything that causes cancer in rodents also causes cancer in humans, rodents are not humans. Russian scientists, who performed experiments on rats, tested their findings on children aged between five and twelve. For five years they followed two groups of children, one group used cell phones, the other did not. Every year these children were subjected to a battery of psychological and physiological tests. The Russian scientists found marked changes in the working brain, a decreased ability to work, increased fatigue, a decrease in attention and semantic memory, and a significant loss in the ability to tell the difference between sounds.
When studies like the ones above are mentioned the first response of some is to head straight over to Google to find contrary evidence. Such seemingly contrary evidence is not hard to find. There are many studies and headlines on popular science websites that claim cell phone radiation has no impact upon human health. Unfortunately for these keyboard warriors, typing a query into Google is neither clever nor research. A monkey could be trained to do it. Another response is to head over to the PubMed website and search for abstracts in peer-reviewed journals that show cell phone radiation is not harmful. This is not really research either. Research into cell phone radiation needs to take into account the funding for the study, the links with industry of the author, the methodology of the study and how that might differ from other similar studies. The editors of the journal also need to be known as does their links to industry. The same is true of peer reviewers. You would need to know something of the authors and research of papers that were rejected. All of this needs investigating and unravelling. Lazily searching for contrary evidence on the internet, even on a respectable database, then forming an opinion, doesn’t quite cut it.
Consider the case of research carried out at the University of Utah. A prominent team on good terms with the industry showed that the heads of smaller adults absorbed more radiation than an average sized man. They also showed that radio frequency waves were absorbed much more deeply into the brains of children compared to adults. These results agreed with findings in Russia and Sweden. As the research progressed it was determined that children’s brains and skulls absorbed at least two times more radiation than adults, and that their bone marrow absorbs at least ten times more radiation. The response of the cell phone industry was to cut off all funding and hire other scientists to find flaws in the studies. The head of department at Utah was told directly in 2002 that if papers were published stating that children are more vulnerable to cell phone radiation then all his funding would be stopped. The industry also attempted to place articles in prominent scientific publications debunking his work.
This pressure is not unique to the United States. The European Union funded a large group of prominent scientists to study electromagnetic fields in order to understand how 2G and 3G cell phones might affect animal and human cells. The group received near unlimited funding and state-of-the-art measuring equipment and laboratories. The results were conclusive and disturbing. They showed an increase in DNA strand breaks and defective DNA. There were also increases in a type of DNA damage proving the existence of serious genetic defects that promote cancer. The results were confirmed by numerous laboratories working independently of each other, papers were issued, conferences given, the tests were replicated, and they were upheld in a review by experts. The results stood.
The response of the cell phone industry was to deny that the analysis could be valid, attack personally those who did the work, and to hire PR firms. Professors with ties to Vodafone were then used to discredit the work. They did so by carrying out experiments that seemed to be the same but were slightly different, and which consequently had very different results, allowing for the publication of articles and headlines claiming that cell phones did not cause cancer nor alter DNA—the very articles and conclusions you might see if searching on Google or PubMed. The response of the European Union was to pull the plug on their funding. However, the group persisted and further found ten times higher rates of broken DNA caused by 3G phones, and, in 2008, published results showing major damage to genetic material in cell phone-exposed human cells. When the group presented at conferences, industry experts and military representatives from NATO and the United States would attend to cast doubt on their findings. They were falsely accused of fraud. Yet over a dozen studies from different, highly respected scientists agreed with their findings that radio frequency signals damage DNA, alter the ability of cells to repair themselves, and cause cells to die at unusual rates.
The most startling example of manipulating scientific evidence is to be found in the Journal of the American Medical Association—the most circulated medical journal in the world, and one of the most prestigious. When a scientist or group of scientists have carried out and performed a study it is sent by the Journal to other scientists to check. This standard procedure is known as peer review. During peer review it is not unusual for mistakes to be found or questions to be raised. Sometimes the study might be rejected. Yet research submitted to the Journal of the American Medical Association on cell phone radiation was changed by peer reviewers. This is unprecedented, and the editors of the Journal were involved in this deceit. The study had concluded that there was a significant increase in tumor risk among cell phone users. The cell phone industry was alerted to the article before publication, and orchestrated a change in the data during peer review, such that the conclusion was altered to “there is no significant increase in tumor risk among cell phone users.” Letters of complaint about this change were ignored by the editors. Furthermore, a press release was sent out before publication with the headline that cell phones do not cause cancer. This was picked up by major news outlets and science websites. Anybody searching on Google or PubMed for evidence concerning cell phones and cancer will now be confronted with a manipulated article in a prestigious medical journal and headlines in science websites announcing no link between cell phones and cancer. An assertion built upon a lie.
That the data is being manipulated or withheld is no surprise to those working in the field. In 2002, Finnish researchers working in government-funded laboratories found that one hour of exposure to pulsed cell phone signals changed the appearance of endothelial blood cells. This clearly showed that cell phone radiation had a biological impact. The conclusion of the highly respected lead scientist was telling: if the results are not in line with industry expectations then funding will be withdrawn.
At present there is a disconnect between public and medical opinion on cell phone radiation and what the data actually reveals. This disconnect has been deliberately caused by the cell phone industry. There are many other serious studies which confirm that radio frequency radiation causes either DNA damage, tumor growth, cancer, fertility problems, or learning difficulties. Yet time after time the story repeats of data and conclusions being altered or funding being withdrawn. The editor of the main industry journal on bioelectromagnetics showed that cell phone radiation disturbed DNA deep within the brain; a sentence was added to his published research noting that this was probably of no physiological consequence. He then lost his funding from Motorola and the Department of Defense. A prominent bioengineering group at the University of Washington showed that cell phone radiation formed new and dangerous compounds within DNA known to give rise to cancer—their funding also dried up. The prestigious Cleveland Clinic found that men with the lowest sperm counts were more likely to keep their cell phones in their trouser pockets for an extended period of time. They also found that sperm from their patients exposed to cell phone radiation had deformities. This was confirmed by scientists in Australia, Japan, China, and Turkey. Indian researchers found male teenagers were likely to have lower amounts of male hormones. Men and women who have worked on radar installations for three decades have higher rates of brain cancer, leukemia, and unusually high rates of breast cancer in men. In Sweden, where cell phones have been used longer, the heaviest users have double the risk of brain tumors and three times the risk of tumors of the auditory nerve. And in Israel, which has a population of heavy cell phone users, rates of tumors of the cheek have tripled since 2003; one in four cases are under the age of twenty. The list goes on.
Independent of any detrimental social effects the data on cell phone radiation shows serious harm to our health. It affects our brains and cognitive abilities, and will most likely cause cancer at some point in our life. Our children are particularly vulnerable. But we also know that cell phones are fun and convenient. We like owning and showing off the latest gadget. Everyone has an excuse as to why they absolutely must have a cell phone: perhaps for work or for keeping in contact with their children. We use them as a navigation device, a camera, a torch, a compass, a prayer timetable, and alarm clock. We access them 24/7, even if in bed. They seem to make us more effective, more in touch, and more fun. They are irresistible to young children who adore the bright lights and sounds, and who know how to pinch to zoom or swipe to turn, sometimes more easily than how to read a book. In short, they seem to be like electricity and plumbed in water: we cannot live without them. Clearly we have some choices to make. These choices will not be easy.
Faced with a choice between the convenience of a cell phone and going cold turkey by binning the device, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Change can begin simply. Having a 2G phone is somewhat better than having a 3G or 4G phone. Having a dumbphone that just operates as a phone is somewhat better than having a smartphone replete with apps. Texting is better than making a phone call as the phone is held away from the head and body. For every 1 mm the phone is held away from the head there is a 15% reduction in the amount of radiation reaching the brain. Holding the phone away from one’s ear by about one inch or using the speaker is better. As is using the phone mainly in an area with a strong signal so that the phone does not increase its power output. You must avoid carrying the phone next to your body: men should not have it in their trouser pockets and pregnant women should keep it well away from their tummy. Mothers with young babies and toddlers have to keep the phone away from their baby’s head. Do not use a radiation shield device as it may reduce connection quality forcing the phone to work at a higher output level. Keep Wi-Fi turned off and avoid having Wi-Fi routers at home, preferring instead a wired connection. Rid your home of baby monitors and wireless smart appliances. Get rid of cordless phones as they emit the same type of radiation and install a regular wired landline.
However, at the most basic level there is only one choice to make: ditch the cell phone. That is the only choice that will prevent the health and social harms linked to cell phones. Not to do so means playing a game of Russian Roulette with our lives and those of your children.