The government just made a startling admission — cellphones can cause cancer. After years of sidestepping the public's concern, a $25 million study conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), a branch of the National Institutes of Health, found that cellphones increased the risk of two types of tumors — gliomas, a type of cancerous brain tumor, and schwannomas, a rare tumor of the heart.
Chris Portier, former associate director of the NTP, calls the study a "game changer." For the study, rats were exposed to different levels of radio frequency radiation or RFR: The highest was up to seven times the amount humans usually receive when using a phone.
Although there was no increase in risk among female rats, male rats exposed to radiation had a 2 percent increased risk of malignant gliomas, and about 3.5 percent developed a schwannoma in the heart.
“The NTP report linking radio frequency radiation (RFR) to two types of cancer marks a paradigm shift in our understanding of radiation and cancer risk," said Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. "The findings are unexpected; we wouldn’t reasonably expect non-ionizing radiation to cause these tumors.
"This is a striking example of why serious study is so important in evaluating cancer risk," said Dr. Brawley. "It’s interesting to note that early studies on the link between lung cancer and smoking had similar resistance, since theoretical arguments at the time suggested that there could not be a link."
“The new report covers only partial findings from the study, but importantly one of the two cancers linked to cell phone radiation was malignant gliomas in the brain," he said.
"The association with gliomas and acoustic neuromas had been suspected from human epidemiology studies," said Dr. Brawley.
"The second cancer, called a schwannoma, is an extremely rare tumor in humans and animals, reducing the possibility that this is a chance finding," he said. "And importantly, the study found a ‘dose/response’ effect: the higher the dose, the larger the effect, a key sign that this association may be real."
The study's results are no surprise to neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock. "We've known this for years," says the author of The Blaylock Wellness Report
. "It's the same situation we had with cigarettes," he told Newsmax Health. "We knew for years that cigarettes caused cancer, but the government and tobacco industry refused to admit it."
Several previous studies linked cellphones and cancer, especially cancer of the brain. A study published in the journal Pathophysiology
, found that people who used cellphones the most doubled their risk of being diagnosed with glioma. Another study found a link between women who carried cellphones in their bras and breast cancer.
A 2015 meta-study found that the radiation cellphones emit are a real danger. The results, which were based on a review of 100 studies, found that the low-intensity RFR cellphones emit has an effect on living cells and can damage DNA.
Study author Igor Yakymenko wrote that of "100 currently available peer-reviewed studies dealing with oxidative effects of low-intensity RFR, in general, 93 confirmed that RFR induces oxidative effects in biological systems."
Oxidative stress is a condition in which the body creates harmful radicals at such a rapid rate that the body doesn't have the ability to repair the damage they cause.
According to Yakymenko, using a cellphone for 20 minutes each day for five years increased the risk of one type of brain tumor by 300 percent, and talking on a cellphone for an hour a day for four years increased the risk of some tumors up to 500 percent.
A 2014 Swedish study found that people who talked on cellphones for more than 25 years had triple the risk compared to those who used the phones for less than a year. The study, which was published in the journal Pathophysiology
, found that people who used the phones the most — a total of 1,486 hours — doubled their risk of being diagnosed with glioma.
A previous Swedish study found that people who used cellphones regularly before the age of 20 quadrupled their risk of the rare tumor. An article, also published in Pathophysiology
stated that brain cancer is only the "tip of the iceberg" because the rest of the body shows effects other than cancers.
The reason studies linking cellphones with cancer have been downplayed boils down to money, says Dr. Blaylock. "A recent analysis of thousands of articles written on the subject of cellphone safety found that the majority of scientific papers in major journals that reported no medical problems or biological damage related to radiation exposure were financially supported by the cell phone industry," he said.
"On the other hand, studies that were completely independent found just the opposite — damage was indeed occurring.
"The love of money is, indeed, the root of all evil," he says.
Will the new study spur changes in the cellphone industry or in government rules that govern it? That remains to be seen, says Dr. Blaylock, who is doubtful.
But the new government-sponsored report will undoubtedly raise concern.
"By confirming the connection between cell phone radiation and malignant tumors in male rats, the NTP’s study raises concerns for risks to people to a new level," said David Andrews, Ph.D., a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
David Carpenter, director of the School of Public Health at State University of New York at Albany, has followed the issue of cellphones and cancer closely. He said the report "won't end the debate, but I can't imagine anything with more credibility than an NTP report."
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