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Cell Phones Don't Increase Chances of Brain Cancer

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the as-close-to-proof-as-it-gets dept.

Cellphones 320

mclearn sends in news of "a very large, 30-year study of just about everyone in Scandinavia" that shows no link between mobile phone use and brain tumors. "Even though mobile telephone use soared in the 1990s and afterward, brain tumors did not become any more common during this time, the researchers reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Some activist groups and a few researchers have raised concerns about a link between mobile phones and several kinds of cancer, including brain tumors, although years of research have failed to establish a connection. ... 'From 1974 to 2003, the incidence rate of glioma (a type of brain tumor) increased by 0.5 per cent per year among men and by 0.2 per cent per year among women,' they wrote. Overall, there was no significant pattern."

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320 comments

extremes (2, Interesting)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325728)

Are there any levels/frequencies of RF that are known to increase cancer rates? Or could I live on top of a radio tower and do just fine?

Re:extremes (1, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325754)

Sticking your head in a microwave probably won't give you cancer, but you won't do just fine (if you really want to do it, remember to to overcome the safety interlock on the door latch, you need to convince the microwave that the door is properly closed).

Re:extremes (4, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325808)

Are there any levels/frequencies of RF that are known to increase cancer rates?

No, radio waves are non-ionizing.

Or could I live on top of a radio tower and do just fine?

You might get cooked as in a microwave, but no cancer.

Re:extremes (3, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326088)

Radio waves are part of the EM spectrum just like light, X-Rays, and Gamma rays the only difference is the color/frequency of the EM.
That being said the frequencies used in cell phones are not ionizing. At a high enough energy level they will cause harm but that level is really high. Will it cause cancer? Not that I know of.
It doesn't matter people will still fear cell phones and other things because there is money to be made scaring people.

Re:extremes (3, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326196)

because there is money to be made scaring people.

There is political power to be gained by scaring people all around. But to make money (directly) you have to offer a dubious protection device after scaring them.

The world is going to be destroyed in a super earthquake in Nov 2012. Here buy my EarthQuake Repellent Spray by Acme Chemicals.

Re:extremes (5, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326372)

> > Are there any levels/frequencies of RF that are known to increase cancer rates?

> No, radio waves are non-ionizing.

> You might get cooked as in a microwave, but no cancer.

Cooking = damage. And the damage can increase the odds of cancer.

See:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7965380.stm [bbc.co.uk]
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/CancerPreventionAndTreatment/story?id=7182731&page=1 [go.com]

Quote: "Esophageal cancer numbers rose in regions where people preferred their tea very hot, and dropped where tea was served at a cooler temperature. "

"But unlike booze and cigarettes, Malekzadeh said evidence in his study showed it's not the chemicals in the tea that matters. "

Re:extremes (0, Troll)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326048)

Well, depends if the radio tower is sending frequencies upwards or only to the sides.

Re:extremes (2, Informative)

Maxmin (921568) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326536)

Specifically "radio frequency," as in only those wavelengths/frequencies used to transmit sound, image and data? Probably not.

X-rays, gamma rays, alpha/beta particles, neutrons, high frequency UV, etc - these are ionizing.

Microwaves affect the kinetic energy of dielectric materials, such as water. A different effect than ionization. I also question the penetration depth of cellphone microwaves - do they get much beyond the dermis and adipose layers?

I wonder if there are other effects besides cancer that aren't going noticed, such as effects on the cochlea. When I first started using cellphones, I'd get this whitenoise tinnitus type sound in my ear, as I brought the cellphone up to the side of my head - before and after the callee answer.

But they do increase.. (5, Insightful)

Reikk (534266) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325732)

Talking on cellphones in restaurants was proven to increase your douchebagginess by %100

Re:But they do increase.. (2, Funny)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325788)

Cellphones?!! Bah!! When I was a kid we used two tin cans tied together with a string!

Re:But they do increase.. (2, Funny)

Montezumaa (1674080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326282)

I would like to offer you the services of my law firm. It has been shown that all tin cans, when used in conjunction will string, as been shown to increase your rate of neck cancer. Even though corporations would rather keep this important information confidential from the general public, we feel that it is left to us to get the victims of this senseless violation of public health their just rewards. It has also been shown that using tin cans with string increases your carbon dioxide foot, so please feel free to feel ashamed. Your few moments of fun and enjoyment has just sunken another polar bear. Worry not, oh brother, the Earth Father, Al Gore, is willing to trade you some emissions caps to help alleviate your gross negligence.

And in other news.... (-1, Offtopic)

fataugie (89032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325738)

Global warming is NOT happening....really. We have the e-mails.

What next? No Santa Clause?

Re:And in other news.... (1)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325844)

What next? No Santa Clause?

Even the most well-thought-out and well-funded of conspiracies couldn't erase this nightmare [wikipedia.org] .

So what if it did? (4, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325744)

So what if it did? Would anyone really stop using cell phones? I suspect it's kind of like knowing that the odds are pretty good that sometime in your lifetime, you'll have an automobile accident. It might even be fatal. Are you going to stop driving?

Everything is a risk. It all comes down to judging how much of a risk something is versus what you gain from taking that risk. Even if using cell phones increases your risk of brain cancer, it must be by some amount that is so minuscule that it's practically non-existent, witnessed by the fact that 95% of our population isn't walking around with brain cancer.

I like those odds.

Re:So what if it did? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30326020)

Well the thing is - you cannot stop other people using cars of which one can remove all your worries at once (or at least replace them with new ones by optimizing your legs away from of you). You can stop using mobile phones.

The other facts are: The phones that have been produced 15 years ago had significantly higher TX power than models sold today and they were not as popular as the mobiles are today and rates that lucky ones had to pay for their calls were much higher so they did not stay on the phone whole day - in other words exposition was low when it transmission was higher and high when transmission power went down. As for RBS - I yet have to see an apartment located directly below RBS which is still occupied - this radiation is not causing any direct damage either. What I wanted to say is that chances of you developing cancer from radiation are smaller not because you use your phone less but because they became less powerful source of radiation than before and this is independent of whether this sort of radiation is causing cancer or not. As for radiation I do not know if it is damaging or not but I think you might want to discuss the matter with families of soldiers working in radar installations in 50s and 60s of last century that died of cancer or had health problems after finishing their service. But this of course is another pair of shoes altogether at least as to when it comes to transmitted energies.

But that is really irrelevant because the funny thing is that the fact that you talk nonsense just proves that you are right i.e. people will not cease to use mobile phones even in unlikely event of a proof that it does slightly increase your chances of getting cancer.

Re:So what if it did? (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326138)

So what if it did? Would anyone really stop using cell phones? I suspect it's kind of like knowing that the odds are pretty good that sometime in your lifetime, you'll have an automobile accident. It might even be fatal. Are you going to stop driving?

Everything is a risk. It all comes down to judging how much of a risk something is versus what you gain from taking that risk. Even if using cell phones increases your risk of brain cancer, it must be by some amount that is so minuscule that it's practically non-existent, witnessed by the fact that 95% of our population isn't walking around with brain cancer.

I like those odds.

Good point.

Here in the US, at least, folks seem pretty risk-averse. There's always a push to make thing safer, eliminate danger, etc. That's not necessarily a bad thing... If I'm going to get in a car crash I'd rather have an airbag in my car... But it isn't necessarily a good thing either, as fewer people actually get out and experience the world around them.

There is such a thing as an acceptable risk. As you said, it's fairly certain that you'll eventually get in a car accident and maybe even die from it... But, for most people, that's an acceptable risk.

And I think most folks, even if they knew there was an increased risk of cancer, would keep using their cell phones.

Hell, plenty of people keep smoking...

Re:So what if it did? (-1, Flamebait)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326496)

If I'm going to get in a car crash I'd rather have an airbag in my car

Except that wasn't a choice that you made. You didn't get to do a cost benefit analysis and conclude that you think airbags are worth the money. That decision was made for you by your friendly government bureaucrats. Personally I don't think airbags are worth the cost (financial as well as the increased danger to smaller occupants) and would love to have the option to purchase a car without them.

Re:So what if it did? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30326762)

You can in fact purchase a car without them. Just take it to your mechanic and say, "HEY! I want the airbags disabled!" He'll give you a hard time, but he makes his decision from your wallet. :)

Re:So what if it did? (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326650)

Risk is the price of freedom, and the sooner people learn this, the sooner we can move on to improving our civilization.

Unfortunately, the trend seems to be going in the opposite direction, and that's bad news for freedom.

ps. If you stop using a cell phone after years of use, you won't feel physically and mentally ill. Not the same as smoking.

Re:So what if it did? (1)

joeflies (529536) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326236)

I think that the point is that people want to know the facts so they can make their own decision.

Re:So what if it did? (0, Offtopic)

ashtophoenix (929197) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326302)

Are you saying dying in a car crash is the same as dying via brain cancer? Which would you prefer?

Re:So what if it did? (4, Funny)

broggyr (924379) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326392)

When I die, I want to go in my sleep like my father; quietly. Not yelling and screaming, like the passengers in his car...

Re:So what if it did? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30326418)

It's JUST like smoking, but the comparison brings out the hypocrisy of the subject. The general population is happy with an all out ban on smoking because of how it affects everyone's health, not just the smokers... and the "offensiveness of it all".

A braindead suit yapping away on their cell phone is just as offensive in just about every surrounding. Also, if they did cause health concerns, people wouldn't throw the same fuss because THEY WANT their cell phone, regardless how you or I might feel.

Re:So what if it did? (0, Troll)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326558)

I hope your lungs melt due to cigarette smoke. It's a fun way to die!

Re:So what if it did? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326640)

There are a bunch of very vocal people who kinda hate everything unnatural and say everything will kill you faster, try to get laws past banning such technologies although they tend to fail most of the time sometimes these stupid laws get past. And if they don't and it is found harmful they will go "See I told you I was right next time you will listen to me!", so the next time they will ban the next harmless material by using psutoscience so they can show how much of a better person they are from everyone else...

I would say let science do its research and come up with the correct opinion. If the danger isn't obvious or from excess I would say take the advantage and use it in moderation and allow it to improve your life, and not stay up all night worrying abut things that I don't have any knowledge on.

Correlation is not causation (1, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325764)

Lots of things changed between 1974 and 2003. It could be that cell phones do increase the chance of brain cancer, but these other factors counteract it. To accurately determine whether or not cell phones affect brain cancer rates you need to control all the other variables. Otherwise, it's just like looking at the correlation between lack of pirates and global warming and saying that one causes the other.

Re:Correlation is not causation (2, Insightful)

Labcoat Samurai (1517479) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325848)

Strictly speaking, yes, this is true. For practical purposes, however, the results are still encouraging. You can be confident that, in today's world, despite the alleged dangers of cell phones, you are no more at risk of brain cancer than your parents were.

Re:Correlation is not causation (2, Insightful)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326202)

That may be... back in 2003. As far as I know, the ubiquity of the device has increased substantially since the beginning of the decade. Back at the start of the decade, it was still a strange thought to consider giving up your land-line and keep only a cell-phone. Since then, we've seen the introduction of cell phones tailored specifically to children and the ubiquity of the devices permiating most parts of our society and culture.

This is a "30 year study" that takes into account about 10 years of actual device use by the common population, of which only the tail end showed true ubiquity.

I'm not saying they are wrong, I'm just saying there may not be enough data yet.

        -dZ.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

Labcoat Samurai (1517479) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326448)

Interesting thought, though I would expect the difference to be one of magnitude. That is, if cell phones cause cancer, recent ubiquity would cause *more* cancer than the relatively less common use of them years ago. But I would expect there to be a measured, statistically significant increase regardless.

Unless you think it works like a sort of critical mass where you aren't at an increased risk until it gets to a certain level

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326766)

Hum, I think you misunderstood my point. It's not about reaching a critical mass to increase your risk, it's about reaching a critical mass to increase the incidence of cancer in a statistically significant manner.

If only a small percentage of the population uses cell phones during the time encompassed by the study, then any increase in the occurrence of cancer may not be different than statistical noise, unless that particular segment of the population was isolated in the study, which I don't think is clear.

However, the following quote from the article is telling:
It is possible, Deltour's team wrote, that it takes longer than 10 years for tumours caused by mobile phones to turn up, that the tumours are too rare in this group to show a useful trend, or that there are trends but in subgroups too small to be measured in the study.

Then, they added:
It is just as possible that mobile phones do not cause brain tumours

That seems to indicate that the study is inconclusive. I grant that, so far, it is good news, but I also think it is inappropriate to claim that the study proves that cell phones do not cause cancer.

        -dZ.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

Meshach (578918) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325874)

Lots of things changed between 1974 and 2003. It could be that cell phones do increase the chance of brain cancer, but these other factors counteract it. To accurately determine whether or not cell phones affect brain cancer rates you need to control all the other variables. Otherwise, it's just like looking at the correlation between lack of pirates and global warming and saying that one causes the other.

Or it could be that the strength of the signal has changed. Or that the actual composition of the signal has changed. There are so many variables that I do not see any valid connection being made.

Re:Correlation is not causation (3, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326008)

Or it could be that the strength of the signal has changed. Or that the actual composition of the signal has changed. There are so many variables that I do not see any valid connection being made.

Seriously? If you have several variables (as you claim) and observe no meaningful changes in the brain cancer rate it leaves you with the following outcomes:

1. Some radio waves DO cause cancer, but some radio waves also decrease it at the exact same rate, and those counteracting radio waves interacted just enough to cause the results of the study to indicate that the original waves which may or may not have been causing cancer to be cancelled out at just the right times.

2. Radio Waves do cause cancer, but something new introduced at exactly the same time is counteracting that. This new 'thing' must have occured and been adopted at the same rate as cell phones.

3. Radio Waves do not cause brain cancer.

I'll save you the trouble of trying to rationalize 1 and 2. Just pick 3.

Re:Correlation is not causation (5, Informative)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326102)

I'll save you the trouble of trying to rationalize 1 and 2. Just pick 3.

I'm William of Ockham [wikipedia.org] , and I approve [wikipedia.org] of this message.

Re:Correlation is not causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30326412)

I'll go with 2.

Clearly, my presence in this world have caused a reduction in the cases of brain cancer on a global scale, unfortunately, it coincided with the popularization of cellphones which causes brain cancer, so it's balanced, for now. As my power grows every day, so does the number of active cellphones in the world.

Re:Correlation is not causation (4, Insightful)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325916)

You can't control "all other variables." Otherwise you could prove a negative. It's impossible to prove that cell phones don't cause cancer, but you can say that a large number of people have been using them for the last thirty years with no apparent increase in cancer cases, so it's extremely unlikely that cell phones are responsible for cancer. Especially when their use has skyrocketed and cancer cases have not.

So what this is saying is essentially there is no evidence for cell phones causing cancer. If you want to argue that they do, you'd have to come up with a pretty strong argument.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326432)

You can't control all variables, but conditions have to be, aside from the variable you're looking at, at least similar for the two groups. Here we don't have that at all.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325962)

How do the fellas in Somalia factor into your non sequitur?

Given that there is no causal mechanism suggested by physics or medicine, the lack of correlation can at least be taken as a suggestion that there is little need to look deeply into the issue.

"Lots of things changed between 1974 and 2003." (4, Interesting)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325964)

The widespread availability of tomography for one thing, which could have been expected to account for a higher detection rate of tumors, even in the absence of Chernobyl fallout and powerful EM emitters glued to everyone's ear.

Re:"Lots of things changed between 1974 and 2003." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30326802)

There's also the fact that people are obsessed with cleanliness now. The human body needs to be exposed to germs and bacteria in order to maintain a healthy immune system, but because people are so terrified of being sick they have no exposure. I understand this has been linked to allergies, and other auto-immune diseases, and I wouldn't be to surprised if they found a link to cancer.

Of course we also have preservatives, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and plenty of other negative things people are exposed to on a daily basis. Like the GP said, there's just too many variables to make a very concrete connection between cause and effect.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325974)

Correlation is not causation

No it isn't but, the actual quote is "correlation does not imply any specific causation". Correlation does imply (not prove, that's for math) some causation. Lack of correlation, likewise strongly implies a lack of causation. It is inductive logical refutation for the theory that cell phones increase rates of brain cancer... the scientific method at work.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326006)

Yes, and any well performed study will have accounted for those confounding variables.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326026)

I agree, till we can prove, conclusively, that there are no giant, invisible, floating space gods looking down upon us and giving cancer to the ones who step out of their place by using 'magic talkie' boxes, I'm going with using a cell phone can lead to your painful and slow death.

Re:Correlation is not causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30326066)

if i read this tired "correlation is not causation" cliche one more time i'm going to stab at my eyes with a pair of rusty forks, ffs!

Re:Correlation is not causation (2, Funny)

silent_artichoke (973182) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326544)

If I've told you once, I've told you a million times: Stop exaggerating!

Re:Correlation is not causation (2, Interesting)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326186)

Lots of things changed between 1974 and 2003. It could be that cell phones do increase the chance of brain cancer, but these other factors counteract it.

Not bloody likely. Not only would these mysterious "other factors" have had to coincidentally lowered brain cancer rate to the same degree cell phone usage presumably increased it, but it would have had to do it at the exact same time. This theory gets cut away by Occam's Razor pretty early.

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326484)

The "exact same time" thing is not a random coincidence at all. It's because technology has been advancing so fast, which makes a whole bunch of things change at the same time.

Hmmm... (5, Informative)

Admiralbumblebee (996792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325770)

Glioma != "brain tumors". There are many other forms of brain tumors which this study does not cover. The story should be "No link between glioma and cell phone usage found."

Meningioma isn't a type of brain tumor? (0, Redundant)

wiredog (43288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326158)

Guess I'd better edit the Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] article.

FTA:

Deltour's team analysed annual incidence rates of two types of brain tumour -- glioma and meningioma -- among adults aged 20 to 79 from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden from 1974 to 2003.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Montezumaa (1674080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326360)

Seriously? Are you seriously going to start this? Cellular phones cannot, in anyways what-so-ever, cause brain cancer. The radio waves are not capable of altering humans on a cellular(no pun intended) level, which is what would have to happen in order to cause cancer. We had this discussion in my Genetics class last semester and our professor decided to start a class project. In this project, we were to pour over data and find a correlation either proving or countering to stance that cellular phones are capable of causing cancer. After 5 weeks of intense studying, it was discovered that cellular phones are not capable of causing cancer, unless a phone manufacturer decided to power a device with a nuclear power source. Of course, then you could make the argument that cellular phones can cause cancer...except that it would be the power source and not the phone itself.

Which is bad? (1)

SirBigSpur (1677306) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325792)

... Is it the yellow or white part of the egg?

Re:Which is bad? (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326146)

Which is bad?... Is it the yellow or white part of the egg?

The hard white part that surrounds the soft inner parts is bad. It should be removed before eating.

B*S (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30325856)

Who the f*k used cells 30 years ago?! Also, there is no constant mass to measure as the amount of cell owners 10 years ago is far from the one now, so this is pure faked corporatism support,

Re:B*S (1, Insightful)

Cinder6 (894572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326140)

Who the f*k used cells 30 years ago?! Also, there is no constant mass to measure as the amount of cell owners 10 years ago is far from the one now, so this is pure faked corporatism support,

Seems to me it's important to find out how many people got glioma before cell phones were popular, if your goal is to establish whether or not that number has increased with cell phone usage. *shrug*

Re:B*S (5, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326298)

Who the f*k used cells 30 years ago?! Also, there is no constant mass to measure as the amount of cell owners 10 years ago is far from the one now, so this is pure faked corporatism support,

OK, try to wrap your little brain around this: there is no statistically significant increase in brain cancer from 1974 (when there were no cell phones) to 2003 (when there were a shitload). If brain cancer didn't change, but cell phone usage went from 0 to "a whole bunch", the conclusion is that cell phones don't cause brain cancer.

So if not brain cancer then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30325858)

...What is their excuse?

Second-hand... (3, Funny)

jeffshoaf (611794) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325864)

Yeah, but what about second-hand cell phone usage? If the person in the room with you or in the car with you is using a cell phone, does it increase your chance of brain tumors?

OK, OK, I'm not totally serious with this (it's more a riff on the whole second-hand smoke issue), but still...

Invert square (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326486)

I'm not totally serious with this (it's more a riff on the whole second-hand smoke issue), but still...

I know you're joking but...

If the person in the room with you or in the car with you is using a cell phone, does it increase your chance of brain tumors?

The law of invert square tells us that your increase in chance of having a brain tumour are infinitesimal compared to his/her (which are already too low to be considered anything but negligible according to the study).
Unless you stick your head right next to her/his, that is.

The same law dictates that you'll be much safer if you stick your (high power emitting might go up to ~2W) phone into your pocket and instead stick some low power transmitter next to your ear (like a Class2 or Class3 Bluetooth headset. 2.5 to 1 mW). Cause at that distance (pocket-to-brain) its much less likely to fry your brain.

Same thing as the wifi scare... (2, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325880)

It's people buying into the sensationalism that the media perpetuates around anything vaguely related to human healthcare. Dumbing everything down to the level of the stupidest person consuming the news results in demeaning everyone else.

There is so much potential for online news. They could be using, omg, hyperlinks to connect the topic to the relevant terms and field of science. I wish I would hear about p-values and numbers in scientific notation! I think the vast majority of people would have actually no problem understanding news that is expressed not in Libraries of Congress, but in proper SI units. I want reporters to link to the original scientific paper they are writing a piece about or what's better: ask for and pressure scientists into being able to distribute the paper itself.

I want to read news with an Atom feed aggregator, where I find the paper the article refers to as a directly downloadable content.

Re:Same thing as the wifi scare... (1)

zrbyte (1666979) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326034)

Wikipedian protesters [xkcd.com] for more accurate news!
There's one in each of us.

Re:Same thing as the wifi scare... (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326042)

They aren't dumbing it down to the "stupidest" person consuming news, just the 50th percentile. This gets the largest viewer/readership which translates to more ad revenue. Just say what the 50th percentile wants to hear and you automatically have the largest market, ala Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.

Re:Same thing as the wifi scare... (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326104)

You might be right. Or I might be right. Who knows? It would be nice to see a study on this that includes p-values, control groups and detailed methodology.

See what I did there?

Re:Same thing as the wifi scare... (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326414)

No, you are right in your analysis. Dumbing anything down to any level (be it the stupidest person, or just the 50th percentile) IS demeaning to a large number of people (the 49th percentile and above, for example). I was just saying you don't want to dumb it down to the stupidest person, because by doing that, you are missing out on a large market of just slightly stupid people out there.

Re:Same thing as the wifi scare... (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326216)

Actually, both Limbaugh and Fox News succeed because so few other outlets in the media discuss news from a non-liberal viewpoint. Maybe they are targeting the 50th percentile, maybe not, but Daily Show/Colbert Report are probably targeting the same range (just more leftward/younger/funnier). This is why Dennis Miller can't keep a show on mainstream TV, because he targets the 90th percentile.

On the other hand, the Fox News website panders to the 25th percentile. I swear, half the stuff on there these days is NSFW, and while I like looking at bewbs, I don't like looking at bewbs accidentally from work.

Re:Same thing as the wifi scare... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30326098)

Abso-posi-lutely!

Perhaps you overestimate... (2, Insightful)

uptownguy (215934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326168)

I think the vast majority of people would have actually no problem understanding news that is expressed not in Libraries of Congress, but in proper SI units.

I'm blowing an earlier moderation to a post so I can comment on this. I think that perhaps you overestimate your fellow members of society. The tolerance of most people for anything even remotely resembling detail is pretty low. You can test this by trying to have a discussion with family/friends/people on the bus about why firewalls are important or why running everything as root/admin may not make for the most secure model. Eyes will glaze over. Quickly.

They could be using, omg, hyperlinks to connect the topic to the relevant terms and field of science.

Here's the thing: There is no they. "They" is really us. "We" could be doing any of this. But the fact is, our mainstream culture ISN'T that way because for the most part, WE aren't that way. In the meantime, there is a wealth of information out there for us outliers to FIND that information. Forums like slashdot where you CAN find the relevant terms, links to the paper, etc.

There is sensationalism because sensationalism sells. Sensationalism sells because that is what people WANT. They vote what they want with their wallets and their eyeballs. The "vast majority of people" want exactly what they are getting and the market delivers it to them.

Re:Perhaps you overestimate... (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326562)

Here's the thing: There is no they. "They" is really us. "We" could be doing any of this. But the fact is, our mainstream culture ISN'T that way because for the most part, WE aren't that way. In the meantime, there is a wealth of information out there for us outliers to FIND that information. Forums like slashdot where you CAN find the relevant terms, links to the paper, etc.

There is a they, I was referring to the precise group of journalists/online outlets who get paid to deliver/disseminate news. What commenters on slashdot are doing by digging out the original paper, etc. is an aftermarket substitute for what the journalists should be doing in the first place. Heck, I consider half of the whole blogging phenomena to be a substitute for what journalists should be doing: providing context and investigating.

There is sensationalism because sensationalism sells. Sensationalism sells because that is what people WANT. They vote what they want with their wallets and their eyeballs. The "vast majority of people" want exactly what they are getting and the market delivers it to them.

It is true that sensationalism sells, but it's not because that's what people want, on the contrary. It's about content that people fear. War, terrorism, health issues, scandals. That does provide news organizations with some revenue, but it leaves people unsatisfied because a lot of us feel we've been had with some coverage or other. There is a market vacuum that some blogs are exploiting and that's exactly why a growing number of people trust some blogs more than the vast majority of professional media. "The market" is not even nearly delivering what people want!

Re:Perhaps you overestimate... (2, Insightful)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326584)

Nicely said. I once read about an interview with Steve Jobs, at around the time that the started the NeXT Computer Company, and I was impressed when he said something similar to your comment. I found the quote in WikiQuotes:

"When you're young, you look at television and think, There's a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that's not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That's a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It's the truth."

And like him, I agree: that's a far more depressing thought than a mere conspiracy. It means that, as you say, there is no they; we are building the world as we want it; by inertia and laziness, not by force. That people--us--are actually that dispassionate and lethargy by our own nature. To me, it is important to recognize this. Only then can we truly see what we are doing, and perhaps steer away from that course.

        -dZ.

Good! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30325946)

So I can take this tin foil hat off of my head now? It makes it hard to hear the people on the other end.

Re:Good! (1)

bkpark (1253468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326824)

You know you can make ear holes in the tin foil hat, right? As long as the hole is 10 times smaller than the wavelength of rays you are worried about (microwaves are about 1 cm long, so, say millimeter-sized holes), the hat is as effective as if it didn't have the holes.

At least that's what my dealer who gave me my holey hat told me ...

Needs "duh" tag... (2, Interesting)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30325998)

This story needs the "duh" tag. Radio frequency has been around much longer than cell phones. If RF caused cancer, we would have known it long before the advent of cell phones.

The rates didn't increase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30326036)

The rate of brain tumors didn't increase from year to year, but the people who got the tumors were cell phone users. Especially now, that everyone uses a cell phone. My step-father was an early adopter and had his first cell phone in the 1980s. It was freaking huge. He continued to use cell phones until he died of brain cancer.

Re:The rates didn't increase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30326182)

Splendid tale, mate!

Re:The rates didn't increase (1)

Memetic Rebroadcast (1439085) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326354)

Just a pure observational question here. Are more or fewer people using cell phones than in the 1980's? If cell phone usage per capita has gone way up, shouldn't the incident rate per capita go up too? With smoking it is very easy to track the percentage of the country that smokes and then later the lung cancer rate, this data doesn't remotely match that trend in any traceable way. I cannot prove one way or the other what happened to your step-father and it is still a tragedy, but this data would make it difficult to show a link.

Re:The rates didn't increase (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326356)

My sister was just fine for years. Then I bought a pet rock. After I got the pet rock, my sister was bitten by a moose. How can the government allow these things to be sold?!!

Yes,But.... (0, Troll)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326108)

Yes there is research by scientists and it seems conclusive.
I want to know who funded the research for 30 years.
Was it research for 30 years or research covering 30 years of cell users?
Was it a telco funding this? If not who? What is their agenda?
Gosh, with rampant disinformation from the industry/government spun media, who's to say a scientist making a living wouldn't take some payola?
There is no security in place to keep this from happening. The public eats up research, reviewed or not.
Why should we put our faith in science anymore?
Maybe I'm out of line, maybe not.
Like the global warming issue, the temptation to follow the money and agenda negates any believability of anyones results.
How many other hot issues have so many conflicting findings month to month?
How much research is diluted by agenda?

Re:Yes,But.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30326254)

It was someone using 30 years worth of general medical data, probably. Of course, if you really cared, you could have just followed the links and done your own homework.

Re:Yes,But.... (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326502)

The peer review process already takes care of that. If the data is correct, and the analysis is correct, then the conclusions are likely correct. If you still think the funding matters, then repeat the experiment. If you get the same results, then repeat it again. Repeat as much as you want. If you're still getting the same results, then accept the conclusions as stated.

Complaining about who funded the research is a waste of effort. Somebody with a stake in the results funded the research; otherwise, why did they spend the money? Governments might invest in research without a specific reason, but there's only so much government funding to go around, and for high political studies, people will still claim there was a special interest somewhere in the background. It's all nonsense--either find a flaw in the study itself or accept the results.

Re:Yes,But.... (1)

smidget2k4 (847334) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326590)

If you want to know who funded it, read the published paper. Generally studies are required to say which grants the money used from the study came from.

And there is security vs payola in the way of "if you get caught, that's your career" and is generally not worth it. Also the idea is that your results are repeatable, and your reputation is severely damaged if you are publishing bad science.

I also don't know where you are seeing the conflicting views in this. Some concerns have been expressed in the past, but no one has ever shown any effect that cell phone use has on cancer at all. You might want to loosen your tin foil hat.

BAH! EXPERTS! WHAT DO THEY KNOW? (4, Funny)

dtolman (688781) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326120)

I'm sick and tired of "Experts" telling me how to do things. When you spend your whole life studying one thing, you end up knowing nothing. Common sense is all you need.

Now I'm off to read the horoscope to see if I should buy a lottery ticket.

Re:BAH! EXPERTS! WHAT DO THEY KNOW? (3, Funny)

ashridah (72567) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326660)

I didn't know Jenny McCarthy had a slashdot account

Well, sure, in Scandanavians (3, Funny)

mtrachtenberg (67780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326124)

This study shows Scandinavians don't get any increased tumors. Don't try to pass that off as evidence that Mericans won't. Haven't you heard all the complaints -- do you think people are crazy?

Shenanigans! (1)

JoeDuncan (874519) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326166)

I call statistical shenanigans on the reporting:

1974 to 2003, the incidence rate of glioma increased by 0.5 per cent per year among men and by 0.2 per cent per year among women," they wrote.

Incidence of meningioma tumours rose by 0.8 per cent a year among men, and rose by 3.8 per cent a year among women

0.5% of what? 0.2% of what?

Give us base rates or it's meaningless!

Bad Title (2, Insightful)

Psychotic_Wrath (693928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326198)

The title says

Cell Phones Don't Increase Chances of Brain Cancer on Friday December 04, @09:23AM

That isn't a very good title. The article doesn't state that scell phones don't increase chances of brain cancer. It just says there is no scientific link. These are two very different things.

A scientific journal artical would be very unlikely to state that cell phones don't increase the chances of brain cancer. It would be more likely to say something like.. It was determined with reasonable probability that there is no link between cell phone usage and glioma and meningioma.

Credible scientific articles don't often , if ever, come right out and say they have proven anything. When other sources get ahold of it, they make the jump from "we have determined with reasonable probability" to Science has prooven!

Re:Bad Title (1)

mclearn (86140) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326222)

I posted the title. Unfortunately, Slashdot titles are restricted in length. If the titles were longer, we might get more accurate descriptions. As it is, you can't and you do the best you can.

Re:Bad Title (1)

Psychotic_Wrath (693928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326454)

Interesting to know. I read your summary and it pointed out that you understood that they didn't prove anything, just showed there was no stastical link. Nice work, now lets go get some pitchrorks and torches and go after the title limiters!

If my calculations are correct... (2, Interesting)

Xacid (560407) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326348)

in a 29 year period rates have gone up:

14.5% for males.
5.8% for females.

And this isn't significant how? I'd say a steady yearly increase like that has to have SOME factor somewhere worth discovering - even if it may not be cell phones specifically.

Re:If my calculations are correct... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30326778)

Annual X-Rays done at dental offices?

Police RADAR (1)

KC1P (907742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326800)

Seriously! If they think numbers like these are a wash then please make me 14.5% LESS likely to get cancer in the next study, since apparently they think it's all just statistical noise anyway. Also, talking about recent upward trends in use over the whole population tells us nothing. Smoking for ten years won't give you cancer either -- you need to follow the same people for many decades.

Anyway what about the reports of higher incidence of testicular cancer among traffic cops who use RADAR? That's not X-rays, just plain old microwave RF. Sure radio waves have been around for a while, but keeping the antenna close to your body while transmitting continually is a relatively new phenomenon. Frankly I'd be surprised if they don't eventually figure out that cell phones and/or WiFi contribute to cancer, even if the effect is so low that most people wouldn't get cancer until long after they've been brought down by something else. Bathing your body in RF just doesn't feel smart. I'm still thinking that 80m full-wave loop antenna I hung *around* our house when I was a kid wasn't such a smart idea...

My professional opinion... (2, Funny)

dudeeh (877041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326368)

As a loyal slashdotter, I refuse to even hover over the link of TFA, but my absolutely non-educated guess is that although cell phones may not have been around for 30 years (if it weighs over 10 kgs, it's NOT a cell phone in my book), they studied the past 30 years to get a baseline. First 10 years or so as a baseline of how the population was doing in a pre-cellphone era, then 20 years of actual usage.

PS: for those still stuck in non-metric systems, 10 kgs is like a kadzillion ounces.

No STATISTICALLY Significant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30326424)

increase. Fine.

My question: Was there a non-significant increase in tumors? In other words, what's on the other side of significance?

Yours In Moscow,
K. Trout

Unsurprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30326456)

Very simple explanation of why doctors have were completely unsurprised that radio waves don't cause cancer:

Radiation causes cancer when it messes up your DNA. In order to do that, it has to be able to knock single electrons off of the DNA; if DNA gets hit by radiation that doesn't knock an electron off, it'll just move a little, that's it. Radio waves are between a foot long and a kilometer long, there's no way they can hit a single electron. So they can't damage DNA, so they can't cause cancer.

I'm more worried about... (1)

GhettoFabulous (644312) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326476)

testicular cancer or mutated sperm honestly. That device spends a lot of time in close proximity to my unborn children.

Re:I'm more worried about... (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326738)

Get rid of the mutated sperm.

Masturbate before sex.

Several times.

As a side benefit, it'll make you forget the testicular cancer!

Verdict: Inconclusive (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326492)

It is possible, Deltour's team wrote, that it takes longer than 10 years for tumours caused by mobile phones to turn up, that the tumours are too rare in this group to show a useful trend, or that there are trends but in subgroups too small to be measured in the study.

It is just as possible that mobile phones do not cause brain tumours, they added.

If correlation != causation, then surely lack of correlation != lack of causation. Right?

Long term exposure (1)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326540)

Causing cancer takes time. Just look at smokers. If (I doubt it) but if there is a link to be found I wouldn't expect to see the cancer rate to even begin to rise until the 20teens or so. If anybody has a cell/bag/carphone induced cancer now it would probably be someone who started with the bulky things back in the 80s and what percentage of the population is that?

Living causes cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30326614)

There is a huge problem with signal-to-noise ratio in all *** causes cancer research.

The problem is simply that a little more than 20% of the worlds population will DIE FROM CANCER. This is *huge*

Even exposure to a deadly dose of radiation does not appreciably increase ones chance of dieing from cancer compared with the 1/5th figure of people who will die of it anyway (Assuming they could magically be saved from dieing from radiation exposure:)

Pairing down specific cancers and specific areas of research helps somewhat but the underlying problem remains in that you need a massive (typically unrealistic) sample space to find a real signal amoungst the loud background noise to make any honest headway in the space.

This is why everything causes cancer in California and why we keep hearing conflicting reports most likely due to the starting bais of researchers who are either being dishonest/cherry picking or are not appreciative of the actual error margins in their reporting.

Now if we assume for a second there is actually a small (say .10%) increase of brain cancer rates for heavy cell phone use over ones lifetime it may well be worth doing something about it because globally the number of increased deaths is very real and significant -- even though for any given individual the increased risk is likely to be much less than not being vaccinated for H1N1 and then dieing as a result.

That's a big increase (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326700)

'From 1974 to 2003, the incidence rate of glioma (a type of brain tumor) increased by 0.5 per cent per year among men and by 0.2 per cent per year among women,' they wrote.

0.5%/year for 29 years is 1.005^29 = 1.1556 or 15.56% increase for men, 5.97% for women.

That leads to a few hypotheses from me:
1) Men think with their cock (the cellphone is usually kept in trouser pockets)
2) We've gotten slowly better at finding these cancers (but why is the increase that much higher in men?)
3) Some other carcinogen in our environment is becoming more common, and it affects men more than women.

And no, I haven't read the article.

Come back later (1)

toriver (11308) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326704)

There are useful things that can be a potential health hazard: Cars, mobile phones etc.

And then there are useless items that are known to be health hazards, like tobacco.

People worried about the former should take a break until we have banned the latter.

study bluetooth next (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30326786)

all those middle aged chunky guys walking around in corporate casual golf tee shirts and khakis (and its ALWAYS middle aged chunky guys in corporate casual golf tee shirts and khakis), with a blinking blue light permanently affixed to their ear, have to be nuking some sort of brain tissue

a desperate ploy to feel important and in touch, but just winding up looking like a wannabe lando calrissian assistant in cloud city

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