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Cell Phone Use Study Sees Increased Cancer Risk

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the i-use-those-for-tasting dept.

Cellphones 222

Dotnaught writes "Frequent cell phone users face a 50% greater risk of developing tumors in the salivary glands than those who don't use cell phones, according to a recently published study. The study, led by Tel Aviv University epidemiologist Dr. Siegal Sadetzki, appeared last December in the American Journal of Epidemiology 'Sadetzki's findings are sure to add to confusion surrounding the already contentious debate about the health effects of cell phone radiation. Many other studies in recent years have found no increased risk of cancer due to mobile phone use, but a few have stopped short of ruling the possibility out and a few have said increased risk of cancer is small but real.'. Even with the increased risk, however, you're still about three times more likely to die in a car crash in a given year."

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Good! (2, Funny)

yada21 (1042762) | more than 6 years ago | (#22437960)

Good, their constant chattering gets on my nerves!

Re:Good! (0)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438370)

Redundant? Whatever. Don't you hate getting first post?

Now more ontopic and less redundant, the summary (at least) is wrong.

increased risk of cancer is small but real.'. Even with the increased risk, however, you're still about three times more likely to die in a car crash in a given year."
According to Wrong Diagnosos.com [wrongdiagnosis.com] there were 555,499 US cancer deaths, while there were [wikipedia.org] 43,443 highway deaths.

That's almost ten dead chemo patients for every dead motorist.

Far, far more people die on the highways. The terrorists at RJ Reynolds are far better at their carnage to the terrorist behind the wheel of that SUV, but she's still far more effective than the Jihadist terrorist. I vote we put some of that homeland security money into guard rails, and put the RJ Reynolds President in Guantanimo.

Re:Good! (2, Insightful)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438486)

New to thinking are we eh? You're less likely to die from cell phone caused cancer then you are to die from a car crash.

I know, I know. Actually thinking a post through before posting.. what nonsense.

Re:Good! (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438580)

According to Wrong Diagnosos.com there were 555,499 US cancer deaths,

Frequent cell phone users face a 50% greater risk of developing tumors in the salivary glands
Seems to me they were limiting the risk analysis to salivary glands, which seems somewhat reasonable considering that's what the study showed.

I wonder... (4, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22437990)

Even with the increased risk, however, you're still about three times more likely to die in a car crash in a given year.
So, how much does talking on your cell while driving increase those odds?

Re:I wonder... (3, Insightful)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438068)

How does talking on a mobile compare to having a friend in the car next to you, while talking?

Re:I wonder... (4, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438114)

Actually, I read a study a while back (several years ago) that showed talking to a non-present individual to be far more distracting than talking to someone who was physically there. Not sure the rhyme or reason, or if they compared hands-free options or if it was "phone to the ear" sytle, but there was definitely a difference.

Re:I wonder... (4, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438232)

Talking to a person that is not present requires more concentration as you lose out on all the visual clues that are absorbed during a discussion.

On top of that, many people CANNOT talk without using their hands. This is a direct conflict with driving, which requires use of at least one hand (for normal people). Yes, I have seen people driving down the road, with a headset on, AND talking with both hands... at this rate I believe that it is an activity which should get its own subcategory rank in the Darwin Awards runner's up list.

Re:I wonder... (1)

PsychosisBoy (1157613) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438510)

Talking to a person that is not present requires more concentration as you lose out on all the visual clues that are absorbed during a discussion.

I dunno about you, but when I am driving, and someone is in the passenger seat talking, I look at the road and not at them. Thus, no visual clues from the passenger are absorbed.

Re:I wonder... (2, Informative)

Stefanwulf (1032430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438896)

If you're like most people your visual field extends about 90-100 degrees out from your nose on either side, allowing you to watch the road but keep the passenger in your peripheral vision. You don't have to be paying active attention to them to be receiving and processing some visual information, such as arm motion and shifts in posture.

Re:I wonder... (2, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438372)

I only used the "Friend in the car" as an example of distracted driving.

It matters not if you are eating, talking on the mobile, using the computer, reading a magazine/newspaper, or what have you.

All show signs that complete concentration are not being used for driving. When we're using directly controlled missiles with 3 sicks of dynamite of energy in them, we need our best concentration.

I also remember what the original "Cell phones cause Cancer" was about: somebody called the Larry King show about them being diagnosed with a brain tumor after using the mobile many hours per day. One anecdote lead to mass hysteria about RF and cancer.

Re:I wonder... (3, Insightful)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438384)

People who are in the car with you are more likely to respond to road conditions like rain or dark than someone not there. I.e. changing topics, getting quite. At least, if we're thinking of the same study...

Why that is (3, Insightful)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22439012)

I read a similar study if not the same one. If I recall, one of the main reasons for the increased distraction is there is a need to always fill all silences in phone conversations handsfree or not. Think about it, how often is there a large pause in a phone conversation? Never basically. Normal conversation with a present person is less taxing on us socially, and thus less distracting.

Re:I wonder... (4, Insightful)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438144)

How does talking on a mobile compare to having a friend in the car next to you, while talking?


More dangerous. The friend can see what's going on around you, and can shut up when needed.

Re:I wonder... (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438478)

What if he''s blind?

Re:I wonder... (5, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438740)

Or female?

Re:I wonder... (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438810)

More dangerous. The friend can see what's going on around you, and can shut up when needed.

That most assuredly depends on what kind of friend you have. Somebody fooling around or doing stupid actions would assuredly be worse.

My original question was making the connection to distracted driving: what difference is there in a conversation over a phone vs. in person?

Re:I wonder... (1, Redundant)

UseTheSource (66510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438174)

How does talking on a mobile compare to having a friend in the car next to you, while talking?

It's likely that talking to a friend who's in the car with you is safer than talking to someone on the phone while driving. At least the friend in the car can see what's going on outside and can shut up when the driver needs to pay attention.

Re:I wonder... (1)

24-bit Voxel (672674) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438278)

I'd like to see how likely developing cancer from a cell phone is compared to say... second hand smoke. Maybe we need to ban cell phones in bars and public places, like smoking.

Re:I wonder... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22438412)

1/r^2 means the person getting all the exposure is the one with the radiator resting on their head. EM waves aren't like smoke particles. They can't accumulate in a room. Get a foot or two away, and your DNA won't even notice.

Re:I wonder... (3, Informative)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438504)

There have been numerous studies that shows it is far more distracting to talk to someone on the phone than if they are in the seat next to you. The person next to you knows when to shut up, and there is in general better feedback. When you talk on the phone, even on a handsfree, you dedicate a lot more attention to it than you do to speaking to someone who is physically there. I'm not sure what that is, but it is what it is.

It is FAR more dangerous to talk on the phone while driving than to talk to another person in the car.

Re:I wonder... (2, Funny)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438526)

How does talking on a mobile compare to having a friend in the car next to you, while talking? - well, you only get cancer from the mobile. Friend close enough to be in one car with you may end up in bed with your wife. It's not a difficult choice.

Re:I wonder... (3, Informative)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438556)

The cell phone is much worse. The passenger can see danger and not only shut the fuck up at an appropriate time, but point it out to you. Not so much for someone on the other side of some spectrum.

Re:I wonder... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22438712)

GIYF (it's a pdf) [utah.edu] . And fuck the ill-informed idiots who modded you up.

Re:I wonder... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438760)

They're both an order of magnitude less effective at causing distracted-driving accidents than eating while driving, yet you can still go through the drive-through, order a super-sized McWhopper, and drive off merrily munching away, clogging arteries both natural and national.

Just goes to show who has the more powerful lobbies, Big "Food", vs. Big Cell and Big Friend.

Re:I wonder... (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438204)

Well, with the legislation in some areas mandating hands-free usage, sticking it on speakerphone on the dash provides not only a safety benefit (presumably) but also keeps your cancer rates down. ;-P

Re:I wonder... (1)

makapuf (412290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438210)

well, I guess it lowers significantly the probability of your death by cancer...

Re:I wonder... (1)

burtosis (1124179) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438484)

It must dramatically reduce the risk because death has been known to be 100% effective in preventing cancer.

Therefore, you must be safest when driving in addition to using your phone.

In fact, you are probably helping prevent cancer in innocent bystanders as well...

Re:I wonder... (1)

blindd0t (855876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438634)

So how much does excessive talking increase your odds of getting cancer? Seriously, I'd love to have a good excuse to tell certain people to STFU.

Cage match (4, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22437994)

One sees these duelling studies, some for, some against cellular phone usage,
and one can't help but recall the Steven Wright joke about getting a humidifier
and a de-humidifier for Christmas. So he put them in one room and let them
fight it out.
Maybe there could be some kind of academic cage match between the two camps,
wherein they have to explain their research publicly, and get to critique the
methodology of the opposing camp.
The match ends when intellectual honesty compels one camp to admit that their
work is an absolut waste of human time, at which point enter John Cleese to issue
a Wensleydale [wikipedia.org] .

Contridicting Studies (1)

cynicsreport (1125235) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438496)

One sees these duelling studies, some for, some against cellular phone usage...
In reviewing different studies relating to cell phone type radiation and brain cancer for a course in college, the studies could be divided approximately in half. The data is not yet conclusive one way or another. For those who are concerned about the risk, there are some ways that you can reduce your risk:
1 (obvious) Talk on the cell phone less frequently.
2 (best) Place your cell phone on your belt, and use a headset. Remember, the energy waves' strength falls off rapidly with distance; having the cell phone even a short distance away from your head reduces exposure significantly.

Re:Contridicting Studies (2, Funny)

SevenHands (984677) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438630)

"2 (best) Place your cell phone on your belt, and use a headset. Remember, the energy waves' strength falls off rapidly with distance; having the cell phone even a short distance away from your head reduces exposure significantly."

Doesn't anyone think of the children anymore???

Re:Contridicting Studies (1)

Sigismundo (192183) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438780)

Wait a sec. Are you advocating that people place cellphones farther away from their head only to put them closer to their crotch?

Re:Contradicting Studies -FTFY (2, Insightful)

edittard (805475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438904)

Are you advocating that people place cellphones farther away from their head only to put them closer to their crotch
This site is news for nerds; realistically and practically, a cancer in which area would affect us most?

Re:Cage match (1)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438976)

Maybe there could be some kind of academic cage match between the two camps, wherein they have to explain their research publicly, and get to critique the methodology of the opposing camp.
They have these. They're called research journals.

Talk less (4, Funny)

The Iconoclast (24795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438000)

Maybe its because they are talking all the time, drying out their mount and their salivary glands are stress to compensate.

No camel dung, Sherlock! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22438108)

The study, led by Tel Aviv University epidemiologist Dr. Siegal Sadetzki, appeared last December in the American Journal of Epidemiology 'Sadetzki's findings are sure to add to confusion surrounding the already contentious debate about the health effects of cell phone radiation.
With a probabilty of being abducted by aliens with salivary gland tumors while you have salivary gland tumors (on the order of .00000000000000000000001), this *WOULD* lead to some confusion...

Re:Talk less (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438694)

Maybe people who have cell phones are younger, more outgoing, and more likely to partake in risky activities. Perhaps they smoke more or eat spicier foods. Maybe they give more oral sex or have odd piercings. Maybe they over-eat. What are the risk factors for salivary-gland cancer and how does this study factor them out?

Re:Talk less (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438816)

See what you get? If you'd previewed and caught that typo you'd have gotten "interesting" or "informative" instead of "funny". I believe what you were humorously trying to say unhumorously was

"Maybe its because they are talking all the time, drying out their mouths, and their salivary glands are stressed, causing cancers."

Although if this premise were correct, a study would show an increase on gum disease in cellphone-using people, not unlilke the increased incidence of gum disease in pot and cigarette smokers.

Hmm... (1)

rocksolid99 (963015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438006)

Bluetooth handsets ftw?

Re:Hmm... (4, Funny)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438044)

One radio next to your head, and one next to your balls? Are you sure that's a good idea?

Re:Hmm...Actually (2, Interesting)

Killer Instinct (851436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438550)

I got a new cellphone last year, its a nextel motorola i836 and was slimmer then my previous model (i760? big blue one), so i usually carried in in my right front pant pocket. I did this daily (well M-F) all day long, and often in the evenings. About 4 weeks ago, my right thigh directly under where I kept my phone, started getting nerve twitches, and it felt like the phone was ringing (on vibrate), about 10-15 x daily. Most of the time, Id pull it out and there was no call. I moved it back to my belt, on the clip, about a week ago, and within a few days the strange nerve twitchings went away.

I do notice the phone has a lot of leaky radiation, when i set on my desk, my desk landline starts cacklin, often right before I receive a call, or tm.

Re:Hmm... (1, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438554)

I'm 55. I have two grown kids. I fervently hope that at my age I don't have any more kids, but I'm too cowardly to let a surgeon close enough to my balls with a knife to get a vasectomy. So for me, a radio transmitter next to my balls wouldn't be such a bad isea. And as to my head, well, if it affects my brain, who's gonna know?

I mean, you read my journals right?

Re:Hmm... (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438802)

"Ow, my sperm!" (takes another call) "Hmm, didn't hurt that time."

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22438084)

I'm guessing you need to be modded funny but you bring up a good point. I'm curious about which one is worst: having a Bluetooth device to your ear or a cell phone?

Re:Hmm... (3, Interesting)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438560)

Well, a quick google search turned up that a cell phone has about a 1 watt transmitter. A Bluetooth class 1 transmitter has a power output of about 100mw, but this is unlikely to be in a cell phone. Class 2 and 3 only transmit with 2.5mW and 1mW respectively. So, at worst, the bluetooth headsets are 10x less energetic than the cell phone's transmission and more likely down around 500-1000x less energetic. I'd fear bluetooth far less (about a 500x less ;-) ) than I would fear a cell phone, which isn't much to begin with.

Re:Hmm... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438582)

A cellphone can put out quite a bit more power then a bluetooth device.

"Cancer Machine ON" (2, Interesting)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438028)

I love my cell phone, but every time it powers on I has the startup phrase: "Cancer Machine ON".
So what? Chocolate makes you fat, Tobacco gives you cancer, Death and Taxes are inevitable. Until humans live forever and are tax-exempt, at least they DO have a choice on the others.

Skeptic (2, Funny)

DJ Jones (997846) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438060)

Cell phones cause cancer?

Sounds like another one of those liberal lies... Like global warming.

So what if my cell phone melted to my neck goiter while I was using it outdoors in the middle of January? It's totally coincidental.

if you can pry it from my cold dead fingers... (2, Interesting)

sam_paris (919837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438064)

It doesn't matter whether the results of this study are valid or not. I can't stop using my mobile phone, as I work for a web startup I need to be constantly available if there is a site problem and having my mobile close by, always (even in my bed), is something that is 100% essential.

In addition, I would basically be saying goodbye to my social life (what little I have of one after work) if I stopped using a mobile phone.

Therefore, I hope this study is wrong. If it isn't I hope that mobile manufacturers can somehow make next gen phones slightly safer, if possible.

Re:if you can pry it from my cold dead fingers... (2, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438234)

So use a bluetooth headset, leaving the more powerful cellphone transceiver further from your head. It's not the end of the world.

Re:if you can pry it from my cold dead fingers... (1)

superstick58 (809423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438692)

Yes, I am for moving the transceiver further from my head and placing it in a safer place where the cancer threat is less of a problem. How about something like my pants pocket? Oh wait... hmmm... maybe I didn't think this through.

Use an air-tube headset (1)

Radtastic (671622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438818)

Admittedly, I'm only on my phone for a few minutes a day, and am not too concerned. But air-tube headsets have been promoted for years as a safer alternative.

IANA engineer, but the principle of having sound travel through an air tube instead of wires (thus keeping the electronics further away from your head) seems like there's little down side (other than clarity - which I can't speak to because I haven't used one.)

Re:if you can pry it from my cold dead fingers... (1)

toofast (20646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438366)

I don't think you *need* to be always available -- you're simply choosing this as a way of life. You could decide to work as a mechanic, where you don't even need a cell phone for your work.

Re:if you can pry it from my cold dead fingers... (1)

sam_paris (919837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438414)

Yes, I suppose you're right. I did however, choose my job and continue to choose it because I enjoy it. Also, I didn't spend years studying CS and AI to get greasy underneath a car.

Re:if you can pry it from my cold dead fingers... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438380)

I work for a web startup I need to be constantly available
So what you're saying is that your job doesn't allow you ever have any time that you're not on call? Ever?

Re:if you can pry it from my cold dead fingers... (1)

sam_paris (919837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438518)

Basically yes. It's not quite as bad as it is for the CTO of the company, but i've had plenty of calls at 3am telling me one of the sites is down and can I talk to our sysadmin. It wouldn't be so bad if we were only based in the USA but when you have sites in 20+ different countries globally you have to become a 24 hour person.

Example, this morning, before I even had my contact lenses in after waking up I was blindly fumbling with my laptop, logging onto skype and discussing a project with some Indian developers. A few nights ago I was called at 3am to be asked if I could remote desktop to our servers to fix a problem with the app pools.

Re:if you can pry it from my cold dead fingers... (2, Informative)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438614)

yah, sure it does - all it needs is some personal choice.

I went through a similar phase many years ago. It's quite flattering to feel that you're always needed - for a time. After that it becomes a chore, then something you hate.

Most people grow out of it when they realise that the people who put them "on permanent call" are really just being lazy/exploitative.

Others find it's reassuring to know that someone wants/needs them. If so, then fine - they're getting something out of it too (apart from stress related illnesses).

However organisations that rely on the monumental efforts of a few key individuals rarely last long - they're just a house of cards, and as soon as one of the key people leaves the whole mess tends to fall apart. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Re:if you can pry it from my cold dead fingers... (2, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438738)

I work for a web startup I need to be constantly available

You poor, poor man. I don't care how much money you have or make, you are still poverty stricken.

Re:if you can pry it from my cold dead fingers... (1)

sam_paris (919837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438908)

*sniff*

On this point, I agree it can suck. I love reading and am currently working through the History of Western Philosophy. As a college student I would have ripped through this in a few weeks but with my current time commitments its more like a slog through a jungle whilst hopping on one leg. But i'm hoping that the responsibilities I have in my job, combined with the great references i'll get will give me the chance to get a job where i'm under less pressure.

Re:if you can pry it from my cold dead fingers... (2, Funny)

edittard (805475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22439014)

I work for a web startup
Talking of phones, 1997 called...

What confusion around studies? (2, Insightful)

trelayne (930715) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438076)

It's quite simple actually. Most of the positive studies are either funded by wireless companies or are watered down for fear of litigation.

Re:What confusion around studies? (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438390)

I don't think I'm going to have a problem... every time I think of my cellular carrier I spit, so I'm probably clearing out the free radicals every ten minutes or so.

Not reassuring (5, Insightful)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438096)

"Three times more likely to die in a car crash"? That's not reassuring. Given how many people die in crashes each year, that would make cell-phone-induced tongue cancer one of the more significant causes of death.

Re:Not reassuring (1)

minusthink (218231) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438312)

Well, depends.

I don't drive or ride in cars as part of my daily routine, looks like I'm sitting pretty.

i'm gonna go up my minutes.

Not to mention cell phones can cause car crashes. (1)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438846)

Put the phone down and drive, please.

Re:Not reassuring (1)

greeze (985712) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438954)

But how many car crashes have *you* died in? After I've died in three car crashes, then I'll start worrying about my cell phone. Oh wait...

Re:Not reassuring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22439008)

Yeah, a few thousand out of ~6.5 billion sure is terrifying, isn't it? I mean, it sure sucks if you're one of those several thousand, but still... I'll take those odds.

Margin of error (3, Interesting)

wild_berry (448019) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438116)

I'm skeptical about these statistics: 500 tumour patients and 1300 control subjects can't really support a probability of 0.003% and 0.0045% for each outcome, can they? I reckon that these numbers are less likely than the false-positive error for their data set.

Re:Margin of error (3, Informative)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438304)

I'm skeptical about these statistics: 500 tumour patients and 1300 control subjects can't really support a probability of 0.003% and 0.0045% for each outcome, can they? I reckon that these numbers are less likely than the false-positive error for their data set.

These figures comes from two different studies. The \emph{relative risk} increase of 1.5 comes from one case-control study. This is then applied to a survey of the total number of cases in the population, leading to an estimate of the \emph{absolute risk} increase of 0.0015%. That's a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The result isn't worth getting too excited about, but it's interesting none the less.

The bigger problem I would have, (although I don't think it's a fatal problem for the study) is that overall they found no effect of being a regular phone user. They had to do a subgroup analysis of very heavy users in rural areas to find a significant increase. I'd also be worried this being a freak result given the number of negative findings.

Re:Margin of error (3, Funny)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438340)

oops I've been writing in \LaTeX{} all day. That's what you get for not using preview.

Re:Margin of error (1)

Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438656)

oops I've been writing in \LaTeX{} all day. That's what you get for not using preview.

I would sincerely love it if latex syntax became the standard for faux markup on slashdot instead of <sigh>html</sigh>.

nevermind next to nobody gets it (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438836)

Nevermind that according to the googles, it has an occurance rate of .9 in 100,000. That means that about 2000 people a year get it in the entire US population, roughly. The mortality rate is an even smaller piece of that pie.

3x more likely (4, Funny)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438134)

"...Even with the increased risk, however, you're still about three times more likely to die in a car crash in a given year."

Particularly if you are talking on your cell phone at the time.

Three times (2, Insightful)

popmaker (570147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438150)

I'm three times more likely to die in a car accident than of cell phone radiation? Good gracious, I'm never driving again!

Radio waves or just talking a lot? (2, Insightful)

Grond (15515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438172)

It seems to me that both findings of the study (more tumors and even more tumors in people in rural areas) could be due to simply talking a lot. More talking means more salivation to keep the mouth from drying out, and it is possible that heavy use of the salivary glands could lead to cancer. In rural areas, one would expect the effect to be magnified because people there are more isolated, and so even less likely to talk a lot except when using a cell phone. It's possible that the study accounted for differences in time spent talking, but neither article makes that clear.

Effectively Zero Risk (5, Insightful)

Shannon Love (705240) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438178)

Based on that data, a 50% increase would raise one's theoretical high-end risk of developing a tumor in the head from 0.003% per year to 0.0045% per year.

This translates into an effectively zero risk. The risk is so low that an individual couldn't really justify spending any time or money trying to lower it further.

We've got to learn that even though our advancing technology allows us to measure smaller and smaller risk, that doesn't mean that "something has to be done!" for every risk we can measure.

Re:Effectively Zero Risk (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22438432)

But what about the children?

Re:Effectively Zero Risk (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438642)

Law of Diminishing Returns, and all that jazz.

Re:Effectively Zero Risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22439002)

Diminishing Returns?! Something has to be done!

How do you hold it? (2, Interesting)

ddrichardson (869910) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438202)

From the article:

Frequent cell phone users face a 50% greater risk of developing tumors of the parotid gland than those who don't use cell phones, according to a recently published study.

The parotid gland is the largest human salivary gland; it's located near the jaw and ear, where cell phones are typically held.

Does this simply mean we should use handsfree headsets or hold the phone away from our heads?

I happen to hold mine in front and use the loudspeaker but that's purely because I'm deaf in one ear and don't like not being able to hear anything else that's going on.

Rule of thumb (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438214)

The more contentions something is, meaning there's no real clear evidence one way or the other, then the more it's much ado about nothing. You are free to use a cell all you want - there's no conclusive hard evidence it causes cancer. You are free to believe it will melt your brain if used for more than 5 minutes and rigorously avoid it. You can take one side or another in the argument and waste a lot of time and energy promoting an arbitrary view. Or you can just ignore the whole tempest-in-a-teapot and get on with more important things in life.

Re:Rule of thumb (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438568)

Both extremes are bad for you. Keeping completely away from mobiles also keep you from your friends and family. Also, bathing yourselves in continual RF isn't exactly healthy either.

The FCC has guidelines on acceptable RF radiation exposure, as per frequency. Frequencies in the cell phone bands do not seem to show ionizing effects, however do show heating effects.

These days, the PEP wattage from standard mobile phones aren't high at all, compared to the older phones from the analog era. I have an emergency mobile that powers itself on the 12vdc car mains. It is a 5W phone. Yes, 5 watts. I've communicated with the ISS with 2W, on a handheld.

However, playing with higher frequency, non-ionizing wattage makes me fear one real thing: cataracts. I knew a ham who was near an EME array when it was accidentally powered on. He received insta-cataracts in the way one would cook an egg. The egg whites are akin to the aqueous tissues in the eye, and congeal the similar way, as the eye has no real way to conduct heat away. It is also why being near an opened microwave is dangerous: cooking your skin makes it hot, but you cook your eyes.

Fortunately, he was able to have them repaired by an eye surgeon. This is what I most fear from constant mobile exposure, over a long term. However, I do acknowledge that the FCC is on the safe side of PEP calculations. I'm safe around my 100W rigs, as is everybody else.

 

Correlation Causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22438222)

Everyone knows that it is the bloated sense of self-importance that these cell phone yammerers suffer that causes cancer.

Here's an idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22438242)

Post a Slashdot story when one of these studies is actually reproduced.

Otherwise you might as well cut and paste the same "yes they cause cancer/no they don't" stories on an alternating basis every six months.

The bigger risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22438252)


is this TERRORIST [whitehouse.org] .

Bad math (1)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438342)

You're not three times more likely to be killed in a car crash if using a cell phone makes you four times more likely to be in that car crash [bmj.com] in the first place. Any probability wiz care to run with this?

The real reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22438348)

These people just talk too damn much. Was a time when people enjoyed silent activities like reading - now they're constantly needing to communicate.

Grrr.

Get off my lawn.

And shut up.

Things not mentioned (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438408)

For example, if you've got a laptop sitting in your lap you're pretty much exposing yourself to relatively high levels of microwave radiation in the 2.4GHz band. Even cordless phones now are up there.

We're all going to die because of wireless freedom.

EMI = cell damage = more likely to get cancer (1)

sdguero (1112795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438434)

Right?

Claiming cell phones have zero impact on cancer rates is illogical. It must raise the risk. By how much is the real question.

Their is a ton of money in the cell industry, kinda like cigarettes. Just like cigarettes, it will probably take us another 30 or 40 years to prove it when 500,000 deaths a years are attributed to cell phone use.

History is so fuckin cyclical sometimes...

Oblig. Family Guy (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438440)

From You've Got A Lot To See [wikia.com] , performed by Brian Griffin:

Our flashy cell phones make people mumble,
"Gee whiz- look how important he is, his life must rule!"
You'll get a tumor, but on your surgery day
The doc will see it and say, "Wow, you must really be cool!"

Salivary Glands (1)

webword (82711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438444)

Who needs salivary glands when we have beer?

** scratches head **

Without those glands a lot more beer will need to flow. What's bad about that?

What *type* of cell phone? (2, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438546)

Ok,

      I don't have access to the main journal article, so it's possible the answer is in there, but there are potentially a lot of variables in 'cell phone' use. The article kind of hints at that in the following:

Sadetzki says that the Israelis were early cell phone adopters and heavy users of the technology, a tendency that suggests higher radio frequency exposure than other populations. Her study found an increased risk of cancer for frequent cell phone users in rural areas, which may be attributable to the increased radiation output required when phones try to communicate in areas with fewer antennas.[emph. added] She believes that frequent mobile phone users and children face the largest increased risk of health effects.


I would be curious if anyone has done a larger break-down of the 'risk' seen in this study, to find out if users were using older analogue phones, or newer digital, spread-spectrum phones (which, I believe, typically run at much lower power levels). What frequencies do the phones run at? (It might be, I dunno, that different mobile phone networks around the world use different frequencies, and there might be a correlation to specific frequencies used and an increase in cancer). I would also be curious to see if anyone is able to repeat this finding in other populations outside of Israel? Maybe the increased risk is really something in the air or water? Hard to say sometimes. . .

Honestly though, if it were me, and I were living in Israel, I think there are risks I'd be more worried about than my cell phone. . . like Hezbollah missiles, Palestinian suicide bombers, another war erupting with the neighboring countries, etc. . .

Bullshit (4, Informative)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438574)

Cell phones do not produce ionizing radiation [wikipedia.org] , nor do they contain any matter that does.

Therefore, the sun is approximately infinitely more likely to cause cancer than a cell phone.

Non-ionizing radiation [wikipedia.org] (which is all that cell phones produce) has little to no impact on the human body. See for example, light bulbs, radios, radio stations, TV stations, microwaves, ovens, the earth's magnetic field, refrigerator magnets, CB radios, MRI machines, CAT scanners, PET scanners, CD players, MP3 players, computers, monitors, TVs, cell phones, watches, motors.

The worst a cell phone can do to your body via radiation, is make you a few nano-joules more energetic. Unless of course you installed a nuclear power source in your phone for some reason. Your freaking smoke detectors are more likely to cause cancer than your cell phone.

Re:Bullshit (4, Insightful)

Niten (201835) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438972)

However, the fact that cell phones do not produce ionizing radiation is in no sense a resounding argument for their safety. We do know that typical phone signals can result in cellular heating, and there may subtle results of this and other weak interactions that we do not yet understand, especially if those interactions are somehow a function of the signal's frequency.

We do not know enough about cellular biology to make the assumption that non-ionizing radiation is inherently safe across all frequencies and power levels, especially if the source of that radiation is a cell phone -- which puts out a fair deal more radio power than the CD players and displays you compare it to, and which is typically operated right next to one's head.

Therefore, we are not justified in categorically tossing out any new research that indicates a potential link between cell phone use and health problems. The question of cell phones and cancer does not yet have enough evidence pointing in either direction to give us a solid conclusion. So just let the scientists be scientists, since raw empirical evidence is the only way we'll ever answer this question in our lifetimes.

OH I see what you did there (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438578)

3x as likely to die in a car crash any given year, huh?

How come smokers cant use that argument to defend their personal choices?

I say, if it causes cancer, cell phones be banned from ALL PUBLIC PLACES, the government should tax cell phone usage at about 900%, and insurance companies should get special leave to triple your rates, regardless of the real fiduciary risk involved.

I will henceforth dedicate myself to spreading awareness of second hand cell phone signals.

DID YOU KNOW YOU ARE 100 MORE LIKELY TO DIE OF SECOND HAND CELL PHONE USAGE THAN FIRST HAND?!??!?>?!>!>! ITS A SCIENTIFIC FACT (at least it will be when enough do-gooder assholes repeat it without thinking)

So what... (1)

krbvroc1 (725200) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438608)

"...Even with the increased risk, however, you're still about three times more likely to die in a car crash in a given year."

Look at the odds of being killed by a terrorist...Yet how much are we spending, how many rights are being trampled, and what other things are being ignored to address that 'serious concern'.

zero risk or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22438676)

I just had a tumor removed from that region and I spend a ton of time on cell phone meetings.

So... maybe nothing but.... kinda a big... "huh".

Unfortunately people using cell phones while (1)

T00lman (1020903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22438796)

Driving are reducing the time available for the cancer to metastasize before a fatal car crash - skewing the results.

Here we go again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22438884)

This is just stupid. First, I'm extremely skeptical of the statistical significance of the study. A probability increase on the order of one or two per 100,000, based on a sample size of around a thousand? That translates to just a few people in the sample, which gives a very high statistical uncertainty (roughly sqrt(N) for a Poisson distribution). You see this in the 95% confidence level intervals quoted in the abstract, which are 1.1 to 2.2.

The other missing piece, which studies like this seem to consistently underestimate, is the systematic uncertainty. This comes from a couple factors, for example, the use of marker variables for the amount of exposure. But more importantly, there's a tendency -- for lack of a better expression -- to keep looking until you find something. To oversimplify, if you look at 20 possible results (e.g. brain cancer, parotid gland tumors, lymphoma, etc.), and find a correlation that is 95% likely to be real and not a statistical fluctuation, you publish and the world (and slashdot) takes notice. After all, it's 95% likely (from a statistical point of view) to be real. But you've looked at 20 different things! 95% equals 1 in 20, so it should not be surprising that you find something that is 95% likely to be something other than a statistical fluctuation. Statistical fluctuations on the order of 5% (or 3%, or 0.1%) really do happen, and if you look hard enough, you're guaranteed to find them.

We saw the same thing with power lines and cancer. Huge amounts of money were spent doing epidemiological studies, which all concluded that we see emerging evidence of some ill effects and that (surprise!) more studies are needed. In fact, there was nothing there -- they were all the type of statistical fluctuations described above.

In both cases (power lines and cell phones), the radiation is non-ionizing, and so it can't break DNA strands or directly cause any chemical changes. This makes it a priori unlikely that there's any link. It's still possible, of course, but to paraphrase Carl Sagan, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. To me, this study hardly qualifies.
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