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Don’t Hold That Cell Phone Quite So Close!

Sept. 24, 2018
Carcinogenic studies on cell-phone RF radiation in mice and rats, specifically GSM- and CDMA-modulated RF radiation, revealed development of one form of cancer.

Many people rely on their portable cellular telephones; some even spend a better part of each day with the electronic device close to either ear. But they may want to reconsider, according to recent research revealed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ (NIEHS) National Toxicology Program (NTP), a part of the U.S. National Institute of Health. The NIEHS reviewed the NTP’s draft reports on its carcinogenesis studies of cellular-telephone RF radiation in mice and rats during a three-day March 26-28, 2018 meeting in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

The extensive review on the effects of electromagnetic (EM) energy on living tissues has been the largest of the NTP’s animal cancer studies. Results were checked by an invited 14-member peer-review panel, including electrical-engineering professors and toxicologists, were part of the review, but no members of the cell-phone industry.

The study was initiated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1999 as a five-year project that was then sole-sourced in 2004 to an industrial research firm. The project, which suffered enormous budget overruns, had an eventual estimated price tag of $25 million. Part of the study involved lifelong exposure of rats (lifelong being two years in their cases) to 900- and 1900-MHz RF radiation with code-division-multiple-access (CDMA) and Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) cell-phone modulation formats.

During the third day of the scientific/medical meeting (March 28), the researchers revealed that both GSM- and CDMA-modulated RF radiation led to development of malignant schwannoma (cancer) in the hearts of male rats. They also pointed out that the same risk for malignant schwannoma existed for female rats exposed to the same conditions. Those conditions included exposure in large reverberation chambers, using 10-minute-on and 10-minute-off cycling for 19 hr/day during the two-year research period.

Different specific absorption rates (SARs) were used on the subjects, never raising the body temperatures of the exposed animals by more than 1°C. To achieve realistic exposure levels, the reported SARs in the brains and the hearts of the rats were only 1.05 and 2.27 times, respectively, the whole-body average SARs of the test subjects.

The NTP cell-phone RF study is the largest study of its kind. While it may not provide significant enough evidence (statistical significance) for most cell-phone users to put down their portable telephones, it does reveal evidence that prolonged exposure to RF radiation at or a little above currently accepted RF exposure regulation levels could lead to the development of tumors in cell-phone users.

See “Clear Evidence of Cell-Phone RF Radiation Cancer Risk,” IEEE Microwave Magazine, Vol. 19, No. 6, September/October 2018, p. 16.

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