What is the science behind the recent WHO report that cell phones are unsafe? The World Health Organization constantly monitors environmental toxins all over the world, and cell phone radiation is only one of these. Cell phones give off a weak form of energy called non-ionizing radiation, so WHO decided to add it them to the list of things they are investigating. Most of these studies so far show only an association between cell phone use and cancer, but there is no proof that a cell phone was the CAUSE of someone’s brain tumor.

Some of the research suggests links to three types of tumors–those in a salivary gland near the ear; one that occurs where the ear meets the brain, and glioma, an aggressive brain tumor that killed Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Despite the huge increase in cell phone use, all of these tumors remain rare, meaning that even if cell phone use does increase risk, the risk to any individual is still very low and may have to do with genetic vulnerability. And recent studies show that only people with years of the highest level of cell phone use had a 40% higher risk of glioma. If cell phones caused brain tumors, we would see a worldwide increase in brain tumors, and that hasn’t happened.

In the New York Times, Tara Parker-Pope quotes researcher Meir J. Stampfer as saying, "If you look at brain cancer around the world over 25 years that cell phones have been in use, there’s no suggestion at all of any increase in (brain tumor) rates. In science, unlike math, we can’t have absolute certainty, but in the scheme of things, this is not a health risk I would be concerned about at all." However, as Parker-Pope mentions, Stampfer is a consultant to the cell phone industry.

Parker-Pope quotes researcher Jonathan Samet as saying that the discussion about cell phone safety is "at times contentious," but WHO eventually decided to call cell phones as a "probable" carcinogen, but most of the researchers agree with the more limited classification of cell phones as "possibly carcinogenic. There wouldn’t be controversy if we had the best information we could have. There has not been a sufficiently strategic approach to getting at the difficult scientific questions. We’ve hit the point where today’s children are going to use a cell phone or something like a cell phone for most of their lives. We do need to understand if there is a risk of cancer or anything else. My feeling is, the word is ‘possible.’ No one should overreact to the word ‘possible.’ I want to try to understand what we really know and don’t know."

Here’s something WE really don’t know: Why in the WORLD so many people who claim to love us so much don’t seem to care whether or not we’ll still be here the next time they fire up their computers, because they don’t support us, DESPITE the fact that it costs LESS than a latte a WEEK! Is that you–and if it is, isn’t it time to change your mind? Subscribe today!

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