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FDA Questions Swedish Cell Phone Cancer Study 173

ZZeta writes "Following up on the Swedish study on cell phone cancer risk, the FDA released a statement today questioning its reliability. From the statement: 'These facts along with the lack of an established mechanism of action and supporting animal data makes the Hardell et al's finding difficult to interpret.' Also available several links to other studies."
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FDA Questions Swedish Cell Phone Cancer Study

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  • Erm... (Score:2, Funny)

    by marshallh ( 947020 )
    Wait, does this mean the lump on the side of my head isn't from my cell phone? Oh, shi....
    • I'm ashamed of whoever moderated this funny! This poor person has a real problem, and all you can do is laugh! He ought to seek treatment for what is obviously a facehugger with poor aim.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 07, 2006 @11:39AM (#15084602)

    will be very hard when there is a billion dollar industry based on cellphones
    its like global warming vs the oil industry, it will take numerous studies over decades until the "truth" will finally come out

    • Global warming is potentially a major change in the entire biosphere that will affect every living creature on the planet. I think cell phone brain cancer risks are overblown. Even if the studies showing risk are true, I'm personally not going to change my behavior. The cell phone is a useful enough device for me personally to accept the health risks, and I imagine this is true of most heavy users.

      The industry already offers hands-free devices so that you don't need to hold the thing to your face if you'
      • We drive cars even though they are huge killing machines. Why, because the benefits are worth the risk. Same with going out in the sun. It is well known that the sun causes cancer. We still go out in the daylight. Again, the benefits out weigh the risk.
    • You seem to be assuming that they definitely cause cancer and the truth is being covered up. From what I have read in the book Freakonomics, cell phones have no influence on the overall rate of brain cancer. Since that book says some pretty non-PC things, I doubt they would have worried about what a couple cell phone companies thought about what they were saying. By saying that the truth is unknown at this time flies right in the face of work done in the field that shows no influence - you are in essence
    • its like global warming vs the oil industry, it will take numerous studies over decades until the "truth" will finally come out
      And if the global warming is anything to go by, the "truth" might never come out [].
    • According to today's article: 0 7/1540219 []


      The oil industry is good. They're saving us from the clean air that causes global warming. Don't buy into the hype. That layer of black oil and coal on your house siding just shows that it's working... like the wear indicator on a toothbrush.


    • Hey, there's no scientific proof that finding the truth will be hard when there is a billion dollar industry against it.

      That's just like those who say global warming is occurring, just because the greenhouse gases have driven a^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H seem to be way out of con^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H are present, and the summers seem warmer.

      Or like saying that just because Texas and Georgia construction companies have documents saying that they know their silica dust is killing their workers, and are going to keep
  • LOL (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mozumder ( 178398 )
    A pro-capitalist political organization puts out a press release questioning a study that may possibly hurt the communications industry?


    • Re:LOL (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:13PM (#15084951)
      I don't think that you could call a vast government beurocracy which costs industry billions every year and has almost absolute power to dictate policy to buisnesses a capitalist organization. I realize it is the fashion for Socialists to call anything they don't like "Capitalist", in the same way Pat Roberson and the Christian Right call anything they don't like "Satanist", but really your definition of "Capitalism" makes the word meaningless. Why not call things you are against "Badism", and say you are a "Goodist"... that would say about as much.

      The FDA, in particular, is considered a bit overzealous if anything. Many drugs, food products, etc., which are totally legal most places in the world, get banned in the U.S. by the FDA. The usual critism is not that the FDA doesn't go far enough in regulation, but that it goes too far compared with places like Western Europe.
      • Putting aside the terms "Capitalist" and "Socialist", I'd rather deal with what really goes on when the Feds make decisions like this. If you blindly assume that they are there to protect the population, you are sadly mistaken, with all due respect.

        The interests of business play a very large part in the decision making. Furthermore, this has been the situation for a very long time.

        A case in point are the standards for Microwave Oven Emissions. Now, one might think that these were based upon actual trial

        • I asked how the government arrives at "safe" levels. He said in effect that "your starting point is that you need to let people run their business". In other words, standards are set by working backwards from what the industry feels they can (just about) accept. "Acceptable" standards are NOT set based on years or decades of study of whether any ill effects arise in humans. (For one thing, such studies would be unethical. For another, decade-long studies would be extremely expensive.)"

          So, please understand
          • I'm simply quoting the guy who made the decision, and pointing out the facts about the FDA. There's really no argument to be made with how things actually work at the FDA.

            I also think you missed the point. The FDA was putting corporations first because the question of what was actually "safe" wasn't raised at all. Instead, they went with what was the least amount of radiation emissions that businesses could live with.

            Determining what was actually safe wasn't an issue, since it would take too much time

    • Article line SHOULD be:

      "Following up on the Swedish study on cell phone cancer risk, the FDA released a statement today questioning its PROFITABILITY."
  • by i_am_the_r00t ( 762212 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @11:41AM (#15084624)
    Most animals cannot hold cell phones up to their ears and many simply can't fill out the contracts required to obtain a cell phone.

    Animal Data. that's ridiculous!
    • I wish I had the mod points - the image in my head of test beagles trying to fill in the forms down at Phones-4-U made me laugh out loud. Thanks for making my Friday!
    • What, you can't picture hundreds of rabbits hopping about a lab with cell phones duct-taped to their heads?
    • You're mistaken.

      Animal data should be opposed to the usual electrical data (phones, computers).
      It is data transmitted using RFC 1149 []
    • The FCC will say that the results got mixed up in translation. The Swedish study actually found that the increased cancer was due to repeated viewing of the Rob Schneider film The Animal.

      I'm sure the Swedes are kicking their modular furniture in embarassment right about now.
    • Literally LOL! This is one of those threads where the parent is starts you laughing and is then followed by a bunch of posts which just build on that :-)

    • can't fill out the contracts required to obtain a cell phone.

      Obviously your American animals are dumb compared to our European animals. Here in Europe there are plenty of records showing that many animals, including dogs and goldfish, are able to obtain credit cards without difficulty. We actually have a credit card company that TARGETS goldfish [] Surely its easier to get a phone than a credit card?

  • Why the FDA? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @11:43AM (#15084645) Homepage
    Can someone tell me why the FDA is releasing a statement about this? Cell phones and RF are neither a food nor a drug, nor a medical device. Does this fall under some part of the FDA I'm not aware of?
    • Re:Why the FDA? (Score:5, Informative)

      by DerGeist ( 956018 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @11:51AM (#15084723)
      The FDA is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The FDA is divided into five groups:

      Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER)
      Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH)
      Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER)
      Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN)
      Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM)

      This falls underthe CDRH's domain and they share information with the FCC regarding the health effects of cell phones and other RF devices.

      "FDA" almost seems like a misnomer since they are much more than just food and drugs, but that's what they started as, so that's what they're called today. Nowadays they are almost like a much more generic "health cop."

  • "This study has been brought to you by your friendly neighbors Nokia, Siemens and Motorola."
  • Whew! (Score:3, Funny)

    by DerGeist ( 956018 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @11:45AM (#15084662)
    Thank God, I can start using my cell phone again! Man, I'm glad someone criticized that study or I'd be in trouble.

    So long as someone is advocating the viewpoint I'm more personally comfortable with regardless of the facts I'm happy!

    Of course if no one is taking my side, then I have a foolproof plan -- I just say studies contradict each other too often and hence can't provide any reliable information about anything. Then I can do whatever I want, risk-free!

    • Thank God, I can start using my cell phone again! Man, I'm glad someone criticized that study or I'd be in trouble.

      Of course we see this in all manner of studies.

      One decade, bacon and eggs is a good, healthy breakfast.
      Next decade, cholesterol is bad, that means bacon and eggs are bad.
      The next decade, obesity is bad, eat bacon and eggs to lose weight and be healthier.
      Next decade -yes people with high cholesterol have higher rate of cardiac trouble, years of changing diet and cholesterol lowering drugs work t
    • Sounds like the studies on :
      • global warming
      • the increasing rate at which species vanish
      • the oil peak
      • so called "alternative" energy sources
      • the lack of health impact testing of pretty much any household chemical
      • etc.

      I don't want to know! don't tell me don't tell me! Turn Fox (or CNN or whatever) up!
  • by Kangburra ( 911213 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @11:48AM (#15084695)
    The authors conclude that there is no substantial risk of this tumour in the first 10 years after starting mobile phone use. However, an increased risk after longer term use could not be ruled out.

    This seems to be their reasoning, only after longer (10 years) use does it have any effect. So people who've had a phone for more than 10 years could be at higher risk.
  • This reminds me of one of the ending scenes for "Thank You for Smoking" where Nick Naylor is consulting the cell phone lobbyists on how to sway the industry into thinking cell phones aren't harmful. I can't quote the scene from memory and I won't be able to do it justice if I wing it, so I just won't. Those who have seen it know what I'm talking about though and if you haven't seen it... Well why the hell not?
  • The FDA has long shown to take a reasonable balance between the health of Americans and the health of status-quo capitalism. I am about as interested in hearing what they have to say about a study saying you should use cell phones less as I am in hearing about MSFT's Linux strategy.
  • It was probably the duct tape that was used to secure the phone to the head of the rabbit that gave it cancer.
  • by gregarican ( 694358 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:05PM (#15084861) Homepage
    The FDA announced that eating a steady diet of old Motorola brick phones will actually improve colon health and act as a cancer fighting agent.
  • by Call Me Black Cloud ( 616282 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:06PM (#15084865)
    It doesn't seem like a good idea to put a transmitter strong enough to broadcast for miles right up against the side of my head. When I had a cell phone I used a bluetooth headset in the hopes of lessening the amount of radiation entering my skull.

    A few years back my boss died of brain cancer (glioblastoma multiforme). The tumor was right above his left ear...the side he held his cell phone to. He went to the doctor in May for headaches and the next March we were at his funeral. Yes, it's only one anecdotal case, but still it reinforces my belief that holding a cell phone against your head just can't be good for you.
    • It seems that doubting a god that flies a flaming golden chariot across the sky every day wouldn't be a good idea. That's why a make offerings the the Sun God daily.

      A few years back a friend of mine who believed that the Sun God was just a ball of fire circling the earth, died right where the light and warmth from the Sun God would hit him. Yes this is only one anecdotal case also, but still it reinforces my belief that denying the Sun God just can't be good for you.

      The point: You openly know that
      • I'm not making a wag about his death. He died of brain cancer, that much is known. No, I didn't need to find some reason for his death. I was just struck by the coincidence, as he was on his cell phone all the time. Yes, it could be a coincidence. It could also be due to cell phone usage. No one can say either way. I'm open to either reason, given proof. There's enough uncertainty in the studies (i.e. long term effects) for me to say, "cell phones are perfectly safe."
        • Uh, either you are misunderstanding the WAG comment, or you are trying not to acknowledge it. The WAG part was conserning the CAUSE of death. You also have not been given good proof that there is no Sun God. The "I was just struck by the coincidence" doesn't fly given that you were not struck by the coincidence that your boss was right handed, and got brain cancer. Do you give just as much creadence to the theory that being right handed causes brain cancer?

          What I find more of a coincidence is that th
    • Yeah that's smart, instead of holding a radio transmitter up to your head, clip one onto (and into) your ear.

      Much better.
    • I worked with a girl in Cincinnati who got really bad headaches for about a month. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died within a week.

      This was in the early 80's.. before most people (and especially her) had cell phones.

      Yes, it's only one anecdotal case, but still it reinforces my belief that NOT holding a cell phone against your head just can't be good for you.
  • by ENOENT ( 25325 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:07PM (#15084872) Homepage Journal
    Is anyone here old enough to remember how long it took the government to recognize tobacco as a health risk?

  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:08PM (#15084898)
    Don't worry - if it's not the cell phone that kills you, the guy talking on one while driving into your lane - will.
    • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
      More FUD from the neo-luddites. You are more likely to be run down by that guy listening to his radio, or arguing with his wife who is in the seat next to him.

      Anyone who listens to the radio or has passengers in their car, and complains about cell phones while driving is a hypocrate.
      • Anyone who listens to the radio or has passengers in their car, and complains about cell phones while driving is a hypocrate.

        Actually, I mostly disagree with this statement, as a phone (landline or cellphone) is a fundamentally different beast. I say "mostly", because your statement about passengers is closest to a cellphone (but not exact), and radio is completely different.

        It basically comes down to the nature of real-time interactive communication over alternative (virtual) communication mediums, like c

  • by OneBigWord ( 692129 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:11PM (#15084926) Homepage
    That's why I only use text messaging on my cell phone. But I'm sure my thumb cancer is unrelated.
    • Re:Text Message (Score:3, Informative)

      by RexRhino ( 769423 )
      Remember, if you lose full use of your thumb, then you are no better than any other primate out there!
    • That's why I only use text messaging on my cell phone. But I'm sure my thumb cancer is unrelated.

      Don't worry, I think you got that from your Crackberry.
    • You know, your joke about thumb cancer seems pretty funny. But I have one of those radios that we use at work. Same microwave frequency. It's part of my job, so I stick it on my belt; I have to take it off to talk. But some of my coworkers have the attachable shirt-clip speakers, so they can leave it on their belt as they talk, and microwave their liver.

      Isn't liver cancer also up nowadays? I wonder if it is related. And like brain cancer, liver cancer is particularly deadly, even *if* you get a liver
  • Reasonable statement (Score:5, Informative)

    by hubie ( 108345 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:24PM (#15085063)
    I just read TFA and their statement is perfectly reasonable. The statement basically states that the recent, highly publicized, study was based on combining two previously published studies (published in 2002 and 2005), which itself should raise some eyebrows. Other than making an adjustment based on the time of diagnosis, there were no other adjustments made for anything else (make/female, young/old, lifestyle, etc.). That should raise the level of suspicion in the strength of the conclusions greatly.

    By my reading, it sounds like they sent mailings to people that have diagnosed brain tumors in those previous two studies and asked them how much they used the cell phone over the last 10 years. They then compared that to a general population sample. Deriving exposure levels from questionnaires is, in my opinion, almost worthless. How many minutes have you used the cell phone in the last 24 hours? Week? Month? Can you come up with a number you believe accurate to within a factor of 2? 10? 100?

    This reminds me of a study released in the early 90's that suggested that 60 Hz EMF fields caused cancer. The "researchers" went through death records and picked out people who were listed as having "electrical related" occupations such as electricians and such, then seeing how many of them died of cancer. This study got lots of press, of course. However, a follow-up study was done that looked at 30,000+ workers at an electric generating plant where they actually measured real exposure levels and no correlation was found.

    The FDA statement itself says basically that because of all these loose or non-existent controls, it this study cannot really be compared to the other better controled studies that were done. That is a perfectly reasonable and well-explained statement, so I am not sure what the knee-jerk posts about corporate control and suppressing the truth posts are based on. Personally I think that if the study in question was run in the manner described, it is essentially worthless and should not have received any press coverage in the first place.

    • I'm not sure why, seems to be more than the normal distribution here, and their opinions seem to be given more eight than you'd expect.

      At any rate the reason you get loony responses like this is because consparicy theorists believe everything is part of the consparicy. That's why it's impossible to reason with them. You show them evidence of why they are incorrect, and they just twist it to be part of the consparicy and take it is more proof they are right.

      It's really not worth arguing with the consparicy n
      • Riiiight... 'cause we all know that no government body has ever been influenced by corporate interests... A person doesn't have to be a loony conspiracy theorist to question reports like this one. Indeed, the FDA doesn't have a great track record to begin with.

        • And there's a wonderful example of my point. No talk about the relitive mertis of the studies, as the orignal poster did, nothing factually related, along with an unsubstantiated shot at credibility. Instead just references to the Big Conspiracy(tm). "OMG! Business could have an influence over the FDA, so they clearly do in the case, so this is false, and so it proves the FDA is in big businesses' pockets! Conspiracy!!!" Like I said, circular reasoning, twisting of the facts, and ignoring anything you don't
      • "Conspiracy" is often used to smear the target. That there is an profound overlap of personnel at managerial levels between industries being regulated and the regulating agencies is well established. Collaboration between government and industry is routine, and often lauded. Sometimes it is not in public view. Sometimes it is intentionally concealed from public view, as for example in the case of the Cheney energy task force. Calling a statement a theory does not make it more or less likely to be true.
  • by some guy on slashdot ( 914343 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:34PM (#15085164)
    When the study came out, most of the comments here were refuting it. Now that the FDA has refuted it, everyone seems to be claiming that they were bought by the cell phone companies.

    So, what? Are all the people in the cellphone-cancer camp on one side of the globe or something?

    Remember, the methodology for this study was step one: find people who already have cancer. Step two: do a survey (not a lab observation or a running record) to get data about their past cell phone usage. How can you bitch when someone contradicts that?
  • Extendable Antennas (Score:3, Informative)

    by DrDitto ( 962751 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:38PM (#15085211)
    I used to work on mobile phones at a large company. SAR rating used to be a big deal to us. One of the major reasons for using extendable antennas was to get the EMF away from the head, hence lowering the SAR. But the market got quite competitive and external antennas went out of style. Before I left, we only cared about meeting the FCC requirement rather than aiming for a truly low SAR of 0.2-0.4.
  • PDF of the document is available here:
    link []

    It appears it's *another* (double/single) blind study on the affects of cellphone use. Though, it is the only one (AFAIK) that was done on cancer patients.

    To sum up my recollection of the previous studies, the most interesting aspect was that they showed a transfer of the 217hz wave from your cellphone's speaker to your Delta wave during prolonged 10mins use. No physiological effects were ever attributed to this wave-transfer.
  • I hadn't heard of this study or anything.

    If you only read the /. summary you can't actually TELL if the study confirmed risks or denied risks, only that the FDA didn't agree with the study.

    Did anyone here think that the "Study" may have stated that the risks are minimal, and the FDA was saying "Hey, wait a minute, that's not a very accurate study! There may significantly more risk".

    The fact that no reasonable, informed person could have expected that the FDA might have actually been trying to actually "Pro
    • I agree, but what does that indicate? /. is full of loons? People are skeptical of the U.S. government? Loony people are skeptical of the U.S. government? The U.S. government has a poor track record with honesty? All of the above?

      Frankly, I'm pretty skeptical of people who aren't skeptical of the U.S. government. I think they must be "in it" with the Aliens and the Jews! Oh, and the Reptiloids, NEVER forget about the Reptiloids!

  • Sorry but with this administrations credibility problems. I find it impossible to believe anything that's coming out of a crony infested federal agency.

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.