Cell Phones, Cancer Calling?

The research by Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, M.D., director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, linking cell phone use to cancer-risk sparked a media storm. Check out the Associated Press report, via CNN:

Herberman is basing his alarm on early unpublished data. He says it takes too long to get answers from science, and he believes that people should take action now, especially when it comes to children.

"Really at the heart of my concern is that we shouldn't wait for a definitive study to come out but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later," Herberman said.

No other major academic cancer research institutions have sounded such an alarm about cell phone use. But Herberman's advice could raise concern among many cell phone users and especially parents.

In the memo he sent to about 3,000 faculty and staff Wednesday, he says children should use cell phones only for emergencies because their brains are still developing.

Adults should keep the phone away from the head and use the speakerphone or a wireless headset, he says. He even warns against using cell phones in public places such as a bus, because it exposes others to the phone's electromagnetic fields.

The issue that concerns some scientists -- though nowhere near a consensus -- is electromagnetic radiation, especially its possible effects on children. It is not a major topic in conferences of brain specialists.

I’m not a big cell phone guy. In fact, I only recently got into text messaging. Nevertheless, the report's popularity tempted me to ask Dr. Fuhrman for his thoughts. Here’s what he had to say about Dr. Herberman’s alarm:

The bottom line is we don’t know. I always laugh at those media pronouncements that cell phones do not cause brain tumors when the quote the results of studies that follow users for 3 to 5 years. Cancer causation is a 20 to 50 year process. So we have to follow young people for more than twenty to thirty years to really have answers here. I doubt these long-term studies are even being done.

So, as someone who stills owns a VCR and doesn’t play Xbox, I’ll consider this cell phone-cancer report flimsy hocus pocus and this video—witchcraft! See for yourself:

Quick, get me some silver bullets, holy water, and a garlic necklace!

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