Review of 2G, 3G cell phone RF study draws closer link to tumors in rats

31 December 2018 by Steve Blum
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Following a review by outside experts, the National Institutes of Health has revised its conclusions about two studies of the effects of mobile phone transmissions on rats and mice. The initial versions were published in February . The changes to the findings draws a stronger link between high levels of 2G and 3G radio frequency (RF) radiation from cell phones, and cancerous tumors in male rats, and less certainty about whether there’s evidence or not of more limited tumour development in female rats and mice, and male mice. The research project began nearly 20 years ago.

The lab animals were exposed to RF radiation at much higher levels than allowed for phones that people use – up to four times as much – and for longer durations than people would experience – nine hours per day for their entire life. The exposure for rats began while they were fetuses. Exposure was also over their entire bodies, rather than a cell phone-sized patch.

It’s also important to note that the study was aimed at learning something about mobile phones, and doesn’t say anything at all about the much lower level of RF radiation that comes from other sources. According to John Bucher, a senior NIH scientist who briefed the media, even a WiFi router in a home operates at “a much, much lower power level”, at a much larger distance.

Cell sites, small or large, are even farther away and, compared to a cell phone held against a person’s head, deliver negligible levels of RF radiation to people.

“Radio frequency radiation falls off with the square of the distance”, Bucher said. “So, it rapidly falls off so that even holding a phone a little bit away from your body decreases the amount of radiation that one is absorbing dramatically”.

Bucher said he does think a bit more about how uses his mobile phone…

I’ve never been a heavy user of a cell phone. I have become, I guess, as we’ve gone through these studies, a little more aware of my use of cell phones and if I’m making a short call, I have absolutely no hesitation at all in picking up the phone and using it in a traditional manner. If I’m on a conference call for an hour or two, I tend to just think about using earbuds or some other way of increasing the distance between the cell phone and my body.

NIH isn’t drawing conclusions about humans based on the research on rats and mice, or making assumptions about 4G and 5G technology, or offering any formal recommendations about product safety. That’s for the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Communications Commission to take up. Jeffrey Shuren, the head of the FDA’s center for devices and radiological health said in a statement

We agree that these findings should not be applied to human cell phone usage…

Based on our ongoing evaluation of this issue, the totality of the available scientific evidence continues to not support adverse health effects in humans caused by exposures at or under the current radiofrequency energy exposure limits. We believe the existing safety limits for cell phones remain acceptable for protecting the public health.

The research didn’t look at potential causes. DNA damage, molecular changes and simple heating, which is a well known effect of microwaves, were all mentioned as possible avenues of future enquiry.

Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies in B6C3F1/N Mice Exposed to Whole-Body Radio Frequency Radiation at a Frequency (1,900 MHz) and Modulations (GSM and CDMA) used by Cell Phones, 1 November 2018.

Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies in Hsd:Sprague Dawley SD Rats Exposed to Whole-Body Radio Frequency Radiation at a Frequency (900 MHz) and Modulations (GSM and CDMA) used by Cell Phones, 1 November 2018.