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Massive US government study links cellphones to cancer in rats
Yikes. The National Toxicology Program just released the results from their multi-year, peer-reviewed study investigating a causal link between cellphones and cancer. The $25 million study is the largest experiment to date looking into this link, and what they found is more than a little disconcerting. Is there a link between cellphone use and cancer? Yes. It looks like there is.
The experiment took place in the IIT Research Institute in Chicago and has been in the works since 2005. The team said that designing and building the parameters of the test were a challenge that took several years due to how complex they were. In an underground lab, researchers built 21 radiofrequency chambers in which more than 2,500 starcrossed rats and mice lived for varying periods of time over the course of two years. Wireless technologies under the microscope for the purposes of this study include GSM and CDMA at 900 megahertz and 1900 megahertz. Test subjects were exposed to these forms of radiation for 9 hours per day in alternating 10-minute intervals of exposure and non-exposure. It should be noted that this is a higher degree of exposure than humans experience with their devices on the regular.
The results for the mice study have not yet been released, but a cancer association became clear in male rats. Interestingly, similar results were not found in the female test subjects, but those exposed to cellphone radiation while in utero had lower birth weights. The types of tumors male rats suffered were gliomas (brain tumors) and schwannomas (tumors of the heart). The NTP reports that the correlation, though slight, definitely appears to be causal. Strangely, the male rats who were exposed to radiation actually had a slightly higher survival rate than the control rats that were not exposed. The report on the partial findings of the study included this sobering line:
Given the widespread global usage of mobile communications among users of all ages, even a very small increase in the incidence of disease resulting from exposure to [cellphone radiation] could have broad implications for public health.
Grains of salt all around, though, because animal experiments do not necessarily have a direct correlation with biological effects in the human body. Nevertheless, it will no longer be possible for people to dismissively say that there’s no risk at all. As the project’s former lead Ron Melnick said, “I think this ends that kind of statement.” It is also worth pointing out that other studies have ruled that cellphone radiation does not cause cancer, but none of these experiments have had anywhere close to the scale or thoroughness of this most recent one.
What are your thoughts regarding this link between cellphone radiation and cancer in male rats? Will this affect your smartphone usage? Let us know what you think in the comments below!