Must-read journalism: Cell Phones and You

My experience is that the biggest potential stories are simply too big for the major organs of daily journalism. That’s the lesson I learned writing my book, Family of Secrets. That’s also why I started  Where we do find the really explosive material, it often pops up in the seemingly least-likely places. So it is that we must turn to the Men’s fashion magazine, GQ, for a bracing look by freelancer Chris Ketcham at the field of radiation that is now everywhere, thanks to those nifty and now essential cell phones and handheld devices that dominate our lives. Read this and quake.

Here are a few snippets:

It’s hard to talk about the dangers of cell-phone radiation without sounding like a conspiracy theorist. This is especially true in the United States, where non-industry-funded studies are rare, where legislation protecting the wireless industry from legal challenges has long been in place, and where our lives have been so thoroughly integrated with wireless technology that to suggest it might be a problem-maybe, eventually, a very big public-health problem-is like saying our shoes might be killing us. Except our shoes don’t send microwaves directly into our brains. And cell phones do-a fact that has increasingly alarmed the rest of the world….

 Though the scientific debate is heated and far from resolved, there are multiple reports, mostly out of Europe’s premier research institutions, of cell-phone and PDA use being linked to “brain aging,” brain damage, early-onset Alz­heimer’s, senility, DNA damage, and even sperm die-offs (many men, after all, keep their cell phones in their pants pockets or attached at the hip). In September 2007, the European Union’s environmental watchdog, the European Environment Agency, warned that cell-phone technology “could lead to a health crisis similar to those caused by asbestos, smoking, and lead in petrol.”

Perhaps most worrisome, though, are the preliminary results of the multinational Interphone study sponsored by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, in Lyon, France. (Scientists from thirteen countries took part in the study, the United States conspicuously not among them.) Interphone researchers reported in 2008 that after a decade of cell-phone use, the chance of getting a brain tumor-specifically on the side of the head where you use the phone-goes up as much as 40 percent for adults. Interphone researchers in Israel have found that cell phones can cause tumors of the parotid gland (the salivary gland in the cheek), and an independent study in Sweden last year concluded that people who started using a cell phone before the age of 20 were five times as likely to develop a brain tumor. Another Interphone study reported a nearly 300 percent increased risk of acoustic neuroma, a tumor of the acoustic nerve.

You may have heard bits and pieces of this, but Ketcham brings more of it together in a more persuasive manner than I’ve seen before. Time to discuss.

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  • Bearskin rug

    Russ, you are right. There are stories which are too big for the corporate media, and this is yet another sign that we are transitioning from a republic founded on Enlightenment ideals to …. pick yer poison.

    A good book on the potential danger of electromagnetic radiation is Dr Robert Becker’s “Cross Currents.” Becker was a longtime researcher into what is now called biomagnetics; he authored or participated in some of the early government-funded studies of power lines. The book, published in the early ’90s, pre-dates the skein of cell phone towers which now cover the land. However Becker’s jeremiad is if anything more relevant today than when it was published.

    Perhaps it is in the nature of things that all growth is self-limiting. Lead glazing is supposed to have done in the Roman civilization; perhaps microwaves will prove to be our undoing. I suspect most people are willing to chance a tumor if that’s the price of keeping in touch, getting on an airplane, or surfing the Internet.

  • jon

    I’ve heard this previously, though it sounds like a good article w/ some new info. I have a cell phone but try not to use it directly against my head, usually using a bluetooth device in my ear.

    My thinking is that bluetooth transmission is much less powerful than a cell – 20 feet vs a mile or two.

    However, I don’t know for sure that theses lower powered devices (bluetooth, wifi, cordless landline home phones, etc.) are safe. Just have a feeling that they are a lot less strong than cellular, plus I’ve not seen any science on the weaker signals.

    Anyway, thought this might be of interest – a sort of compromise in our cell world, where you can still benefit from a cell phone but avoid putting it next to your head.

    Still the issue of carrying it around however – as they do check-in w. the local tower regularly.

    Thanks for raising the issue.

  • bari boswell

    I’m surprised that no mention was made of the purported effect that cell phone radiation has had on the bee population. A theory surfaced around 2007 hypothesizing that the multi-fold increase in wireless transmitions in the last 20 years has created a kind of microwave pollution that is wreaking havoc with bees’ internal navigation systems.

    A limited study at Landau University has found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby. Dr. Jochen Kuhn, who carried it out, said this could provide a “hint” to a possible cause.

    Dr. George Carlo, who headed a massive study by the US government and mobile phone industry of hazards from mobiles in the Nineties, said: “I am convinced the possibility is real.”

    Not much has been heard on this issue since 2009. It takes years for cancer to show up. The effects of a collapsed the bee population would have a catastrophic effect much sooner.

  • Dominick Dougherty

    Russ, I am currently reading your book and can’t put it down as much it horrifies me.

    In response to this article, I read recently(with in the last month) that scientists have discovered a way to decrease a person’s mortality by sending either continuous or pulsed electromagnetic waves into the brain in an area behind the right ear.

    Now where could someone who might want to use this knowledge get a device that is on the ear of every American?

    Time to discuss

  • Matt Prather


    “Voice to skull” technology.

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