Commentary: Has the incidence of brain cancer risen in Australia since the introduction of the mobile phone?

Researchers from the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales, Australia published a study “Has the incidence of brain cancer risen in Australia since the introduction of mobile phones 29 years ago?” in Cancer Epidemiology in June 2016. The study investigated the association between brain cancer and the usage of a mobile phone in 19,858 men and 14,222 women diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia between 1982-2012. They found that age-adjusted brain cancer incidence rates (in those aged 20-84 years, per 100,000 people) had risen only slightly in males but were stable over 30 years in females. There were significant increases in brain cancer incidence in those aged 70 years or more. The researchers attributed the observed increase in brain cancer to improved diagnostic procedures. The authors concluded that no increase in brain cancer was seen across 29 years of mobile use in Australia.

In the midst of heated cell phone radiation debate, the study adds to the body of science on the biological and health effects of cell phone radiation. Its conclusion seems to suggest that cell phone use does not increase the risk of brain cancer in a 30-year time frame. However, careful analysis of the study shows several concerns:

Concerns with Australian Brain Cancer Study

1) The finding of the study shows that “at a population level, it’s unlikely mobile Iphone OWNERSHIP is responsible for any moderate or larger increase in brain cancer in Australia.” The researchers only had the mobile phone contracts information for the participants. They didn’t have any individual use pattern information, such as how often and for how long the users have used their phone and even more importantly, have used their phones next to their heads. The risk of brain cancer from mobile phone use, if it ever exists, should be related to RF energy absorption in the brain, which largely depends on how mobile phones are used. But mobile phone contracts don’t provide information on actual mobile phone use patterns. For example, those mobile phone users who mainly text instead of making phone calls would have minimal energy absorption in their heads, and therefore would not be expected to have an increased risk of brain cancer even though they can be long time mobile phone owners.

2) The study failed to analyze the rate of brain cancer for the use of mobile phone on the same side of the brain (ipsilateral use). Several previous studies found that the risk is higher for ipsilateral use of mobile phone. For example, a 2009 review study examined the existing long-term epidemiological data and concluded that using a cell phone for ≥10 years approximately doubles the risk of being diagnosed with a brain tumor on the same (“ipsilateral”) side of the head as that preferred for cell phone use. The 2010 Interphone study found a higher risk of glioma for ipsilateral use (OR 1.55, 95% CI 1.24–1.99). A 2014 Swedish mobile phone study also found that highest risks overall were found for ipsilateral mobile phone use (OR=1.8, 95% CI=1.4-2.2).

3) The study failed to analyze the risks for different regions of the brain, especially the high-RF-absorption regions. Previous studies showed that increased risk of brain cancer happened to specific regions of the brain that absorb more RF energy, such as the temporal lobe, the frontal lobe, and the cerebellum. For example, the 2010 Interphone study found that the risk for glioma tended to be greater in the temporal lobe than in other lobes of the brain. A 2012 U.S. study reviewed incidence rates of primary malignant brain tumors from 3 major cancer registries and found increased incidences of gliomas in the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and cerebellum, despite decreased incidences in other brain regions. A 2014 Swedish mobile phone study made pooled analysis of 1498 cases of malignant brain tumor patients and 3530 controls and found the highest risk of glioma in the temporal lobes. The current study did not look into brain cancer risks specifically for those regions.

4) The study assumed a 10-year lag period between use and incidence. However, we really don’t know the latency of brain cancer from mobile phone use. According to a 2015 publication in the International Journal of Oncology, “the latency reported between known causes of brain cancer and development of the disease appears to range from 10 to 50 years”. A 2014 Swedish study showed that the brain tumor risk was highest after 25 years of mobile phone use. So the assumption of 10-year latency might not be valid.

5) No funding source was disclosed in the published paper of the current study. Funding source is known to influence the outcome of a study in this field. A 2010 analysis concerning this issue showed that the funding source and author affiliation significantly affect whether or not a study shows a correlation between cell phone use and cancer. Studies that are funded by the telecommunication industry are more likely to show no-effect than government funded and independent studies.

In summary, the current study examined the association between general mobile phone ownership and brain cancer risks in Australian population in the past 29 years. However, it failed to investigate high risk use patterns and factors evidenced from previous studies, such as brain cancer in high-RF-absorption brain regions and ipsilateral use of mobile phones. More research is needed to investigate brain cancer risks in the high-RF-absorption brain regions for long-term (>10 years), heavy, ipsilateral use of mobile phones.

The Effect of Cell Phone Radiation on Human Sperm Quality – A Scientific Update

The recent publication of the National Toxicology Program results reignited the debate on risk of cancer associated with cell phones. There is also growing evidence pointing to a health concern specific to men – sperm damage. I previously summarized some of the findings on this topic in a blog article on sperm damage from cell phones back in 2013 – even then there was substantial evidence of sperm damage.  The present article serves as a scientific update of new findings since that review.

Recent Studies on the Effect of Cell Phone Radiation on Human Sperm

A 2016 study by researchers from Poland found that lifestyle factors including stress and mobile phone use can cause human sperm DNA damages. Specifically, cell phone use for more than 10 years is found to be positively associated with percentage of immature sperms. Data from the study showed a significant effect of age, obesity, mobile phone radiation and occupational stress on sperm DNA damages.

A 2016 study by researchers from China found that the daily duration of talking on the cell phone was significantly associated with decreased semen parameters, including sperm concentration, semen volume and total sperm count. It concluded that certain aspects of cell phone use may negatively affect sperm quality in men, thus impairing male fertility.

A 2015 study by researchers from Egypt found that cell phone radiation exposure significantly decreased sperm motility, sperm linear velocity, sperm linearity index, and sperm acrosin activity, and significantly increased sperm DNA fragmentation, CLU gene expression and CLU protein levels in human semen samples. CLU gene expression is negatively associated with sperm quality and positively associated with male infertility.

A 2015 study by researchers from Israel found that talking for 1 hour or more a day and during device charging were associated with higher rates of abnormal semen concentration. Their findings suggested that certain aspects of cell phone usage may bear adverse effects on sperm concentration.

A 2015 study by researchers from China showed that mobile phone radiation reduces the progressive motility and viability of human sperm and increases sperm head defects and early apoptosis of sperm cells.

A 2014 study by researchers from Ukraine investigated the direct in vitro influence of mobile phone radiation on sperm quality in healthy men and found that mobile phone radiation exposure significantly increased DNA-fragmentation and decreased sperm motility.

A 2014 review study by researchers from UK and Brazil conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 pooled experimental and observational human studies involving 1492 samples on the effect of mobile phone radiation on sperm quality and concluded that mobile phone exposure negatively affects sperm quality in men.

Some studies found mixed results. For example, a 2015 study by researchers from Turkey found correlation between mobile phone usage period with sperm motility but not sperm counts and morphology. In the same study, they found a negative correlation between wireless internet usage duration and the total sperm count.  A 2014 review study by researchers from China conducted a systemic review of 18 studies with 3947 men and 186 rats and found that most of the human studies and in vitro laboratory studies indicated negative effects on the various semen parameters studied. However, meta-analysis indicated that mobile phone use had detrimental effects on sperm motility and viability in vitro studies, harmful effects on sperm concentration and motility in animal studies but no adverse effects on semen parameters in human studies. A 2013 study by researchers from Italy found no significant change in sperm parameters in subjects who used mobile phone for less than 4 hours a day but a higher percentage of sperm DNA fragmentation in subjects who used mobile phone for 4 hours a day or more, especially for those who used the device in the pocket of the trousers (vs. the shirt).

Findings from recent studies continue to show adverse effects on human sperms from mobile phone exposure. The body of evidence implies that men should not carry their mobile phones in their pant pockets. However, if you choose to carry your phone in your pocket, a Pong Case can significantly reduce your RF exposure.

Near Field Cell Phone Radiation and the Pong Case

Cell phones are wonderful gadgets for modern living. However, science is still inconclusive on the safety of cell phone radiation. Cell phones emit radio-frequency (RF) electromagnetic radiation (EMR), which is necessary for wireless communication but poses a potential health risk when absorbed by the human body. When we talk about cell phone radiation, it is important to understand that different regions of the radiation field surrounding a cell phone have different characteristics, and present different levels of concern to the user.

Near-field and Far-field
The characteristics of radio wave change with the distance from the transmitting antenna. The field is typically divided into three regions — the near-field, the far-field, and the transition zone between them. The near-field can be further divided into two sub-regions: the reactive near-field and the radiating near-field (as shown in Figure 1).    Generally speaking, the near-field refers to the RF field close to the antenna and the far-field is the RF field further away from the antenna. However, there is no formal definition for the boundary of the near-field or the far-field. A commonly accepted definition is that the near-field is less than one wavelength (λ) from the antenna and the far-field begins at a distance of 2λ from the antenna and radiates out. The near-field and the far-field are different in many aspects. From the field strength point of view, in the far-field, the field strength decreases inversely as the square of the distance (1/r2). For example, the radiation is about 100 times more intense at a distance of 1 foot compared to 10 feet away from the transmitting antenna. In the near-field region, the strength of the field is more complex and decays more rapidly (in addition to 1/r2 it also includes a 1/r3 relationship). Figure 2 illustrates how electric field strength varies with distance from a simplified source.

 

near-field-far-field-radiation
Figure 1. Different regions of RF wave from an antenna.

electric-field-strength

In wireless communication, the far-field is the part of the radio wave used for the transfer of information – it carries the signal and propagates at the speed of light. As far as the human exposure is concerned, the near-field is more important. Although different in characteristics, the far-field is sourced from and closely associated with the near-field. Any change in the near-field can impact the far-field.

Near-field Measurement
Near-field measurement is very tricky because when an external probe is placed in the near-field region, the probe itself will interact with the antenna under test and change the initial field pattern. Measurement of the near-field requires detectors designed specifically for this purpose. That’s why at Pong we don’t recommend the use of a regular handheld RF meters to measure the near-field of a cell phone because a regular RF meter will interfere with the phone’s own antenna and change the exact field it tries to measure. Those handheld RF meters are intended for measuring the far-field instead. (See Can a Handheld RF Meter Be Used to Test a Pong Case?)

Cell Phone Radiation Exposure
When you use your cell phone, your body is often located in the near-field (one wavelength or less) of the cell phone antenna. Cell phones use a wide range of frequency bands from 700 MHz to up to 2.5 GHz. The near-field extends to about 17 inches at 700 MHz and 4.7 inches at 2.5 GHz. In the near-field, the field strength can rise dramatically with only a small additional movement towards the antenna. It is especially concerning when you hold your phone next to your head or wear it on your body – at the almost touching or touching distance, you can be exposed to very intense near-field radiation from the device.

And you may not be aware that the current FCC guidelines allow a device to be tested up to 25 mm away from the user’s body. The iPhone 6, for example, is tested 5mm away from the body. As a result, when you carry your cell phone directly against your body (in your pocket for example), you may be exposed to radiation levels that exceed the published SAR of the device and even the current FCC’s safety limit. That’s why all cell phone manufactures include warnings in their user’s manuals to keep the cell phone a certain distance away from your body for safety concern. This is also why the city of Berkeley, California, has passed an ordinance requiring cell phone retailers to alert consumers that they may exceed federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation if they carry their phone on in a pocket or on their body.

Will a Shielding Product Protect You?
There are different approaches in the marketplace to try to reduce the user’s exposure to cell phone radiation. Some products claim to reduce exposure by shielding, blocking or absorbing the RF radiation from the phone. Since the far-field is generated from the near-field, if you shield, block or absorb the near-field, you weaken the far-field and therefore the signal strength of your cell phone. Your phone has a dynamic relationship with the cell tower – if the cell tower “hears” a weak signal from your phone, it instructs the device to turn up its transmitting power. Therefore, a shielding or blocking product will ironically force your phone to transmit at a higher power than it would otherwise need, which not only drains battery faster, but also may result in higher exposure to the users. As a result, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued warnings against the use of such products.

The Pong Case Solution
Pong’s patented technology does not block or shield the near-field, but redistributes it so less of the field is directed towards you and regions of intense RF are dispersed. The near-field is therefore, still able to propagate to the far-field and your signal strength is not weakened. The Pong technology is the result of many years of research and development by a team of scientists and engineers trained at MIT, Harvard, UCLA and the University of Manchester. After testing various shielding, blocking and absorbing approaches, they finally invented the Pong technology, which is the best solution for reducing cell phone radiation exposure to the users. Pong Cases are tested in FCC-certified labs and Pong’s claims are verified by third parties such as Wired Magazine.

[1] What’s The Difference Between EM Near Field And Far Field? By Lou Frenzel, 2012.

Related Reading:  
How does a cell phone work?
Does your cell phone case affect your radiation?

New Study Confirms Higher Cell Phone Radiation Absorption in Children’s Brain

2015 study by U.S. and Brazilian scientists confirms a significantly higher absorption of cell phone radiation in a child’s brain than in an adult’s brain.

Measuring Cell Phone Radiation
Cell phone radiation absorption is measured by what is called SAR (Specific Absorption Rate). In the U.S. the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sets the SAR safety limit for the general public to be 1.6 watts per kilogram (1.6 W/kg).

Current FCC Standards & Different Body Sizes
A point of concern related to this is the fact that while the FCC safety standards apply to all users’ body sizes (from small children to large adult), the actual testing model known as SAM (Specific Anthropomorphic Mannequin) used in SAR compliance testing is based upon a 6’2”, 220 lbs. large adult male. According to a 2011 study, SAM represents only the largest 3% of cell phone users. There has been concern that the smaller 97% of the population actually receives higher exposure than the reported SAR of the device from its certification process. Children come in well under the size and specifications of the SAM testing model.

Testing the Difference in SAR
The present study used computer simulation to compare the peak SAR in the brains of children to that of adults. It found that the peak SAR in a child’s brain is more than double that in an adult’s brain. The human head consists of the brain and the skull, which surrounds and protects the brain. A young child’s skull is not only smaller and thinner than an adult’s, but also absorbs RF differently because of its higher water content. As a result, cell phone radiation penetrates deeper and the SAR is higher in a child’s brain.

The present study excluded outer ear tissue (pinna) from the SAR calculation. The FCC recently declared that the outer ear is to be treated as an extremity, like the hand or foot, and not as part of the head. Based on the new classification, the pinna is subject to a higher peak SAR safety limit of 4.0 W/kg instead of the generally-used 1.6 W/kg limit for head and body.

However, the size of the ear is an important factor when comparing the RF energy absorption in the brains of children and adults from cell phones in real life. In a 2015 publication by Gandhi titled “Yes the Children Are More Exposed to Radiofrequency Energy from Mobile Telephones than Adults”, Gandhi explained that “the main reason why children, women, and people with thinner pinnae and skulls absorb more radiofrequency energy is because of the placement of the cell phone radiating source closer to the brain”. Distance plays a key role in determining RF energy absorption from the cell phone because RF radiation intensity increases dramatically as it gets closer to the antenna in the so-called near-field region of the cell phone. According to Gandhi, the smaller size of pinna and skull of children results in their higher RF absorption under similar cell phone usage conditions.

What Other Studies Have Found
Many previous studies also found higher RF energy absorption in children than adults. For example, a 2002 study by Gandhi and Kang showed that the peak 1-g SAR for both the body tissue and the brain increases with reducing head size. A 2003 study by Anderson found that children received a higher dose of RF radiation compared to adults, and that the dose increases with decreasing age. A 2008 study by Wiart et al. showed that the maximum SAR in 1 g of peripheral brain tissues of child models aged between 5 and 8 years is about two times higher than in adult models. A 2010 study by Christ et al showed that the locally induced fields in children can be more than double in subregions of the brain and the eye due to the closer proximity of the phone to these tissues. The increase is even larger for bone marrow (greater than 10 times) as a result of its significantly higher conductivity. A 2014 study by Lu et al. also showed that the SAR distributions in the human brain are age-dependent, and there is a deeper penetration of the absorbed RF in a child’s brain.

The Conclusions
Not only do children’s brains experience higher exposure and deeper penetration from cell phone radiation, but they also face longer lifetime exposure. Many studies show that the health effects of wireless radiation are cumulative. But there is still much that we just don’t know. Additionally, children’s developing nervous systems and immature immune systems make them more vulnerable to environmental toxicants, including wireless radiation. The effect of wireless radiation on their brains as they develop is largely unknown, which is the source of concern for our team here at Pong. The outcome of all these studies suggests that exposure to cell phone radiation should be restricted for children.

Use Precaution
We suggest using great caution in how you allow your children to use cell phones and restrict the amount of time they spend with the device. Pong Cases are a great place to start because they direct wireless energy away from your children’s brain and reduce the SAR. But don’t stop there, we also suggest a variety of tactics and strategies to help further reduce their exposure to cell phone radiation. Please see our top 10 tips for reducing cell phone radiation exposure to start protecting your children today.

– – – – – – –
Cell Phone Radiation Studies Cited:

Dosimetric Simulations of Brain Absorption of Mobile Phone Radiation—The Relationship Between psSAR and Age.
Exposure limits: the underestimation of absorbed cell phone radiation, especially in children.
Analysis of RF exposure in the head tissues of children and adults.
Yes the Children Are More Exposed to Radiofrequency Energy From Mobile Telephones Than Adults
Comparisons of peak SAR levels in concentric sphere head models of children and adults for irradiation by a dipole at 900 MHz.
Some present problems and a proposed experimental phantom for SAR compliance testing of cellular telephones at 835 and 1900 MHz.
Age-dependent tissue-specific exposure of cell phone users.
Comparison of specific absorption rate induced in brain tissues of a child and an adult using mobile phone

Are Children Protected by Current Cell Phone Radiation Standards?

Cell phones are becoming increasingly popular in children. A 2015 survey finds most children get their first cell phone when they are 6-7 years old and 75% of American children under 8 have access to a Smartphone or Tablet. About three-quarters of teens have a cell phone.[1] Here at Pong we feel it is important to ask the question “are cell phones safe for children?

Cell phones emit radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic radiation. When a person holds or carries a mobile device in close proximity, the user’s head and body can absorb over half of the transmitted energy. In the U.S. the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sets RF exposure limit for the general public to be 1.6 watts per kilogram (1.6 W/kg) in Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).

Cell Phone SAR testing on SAM head with robotic armFig 1, SAR assessment equipment, showing robotic probe in a SAM head

Before a cell phone can be legally sold in the U.S. it must be certified for compliance with the FCC safety standards. Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) compliance testing uses a standardized model of the human head and body. The testing model (known as SAM, which stands for Specific Anthropomorphic Mannequin) is filled with liquids that simulate the RF absorption characteristics of adult human tissue. A robotic probe takes a series of measurements of the electric field within the SAM head and torso to calculate the SAR.

While the FCC safety standard applies to all body sizes (from small infant to large adult), the SAM testing model is based upon a large adult male 6’2” tall and 220 pounds in weight. According to a 2011 study, SAM represents only the largest 3% of cell phone users. –The smaller 97% of the population will have higher exposure than the measured SAR.

This is VERY concerning for the smallest and most vulnerable cell phone user group – children.

In an effort to investigate the differences in RF energy absorption from wireless devices between children and adults, Pong’s chief scientist, Dr. Wang, identified 33 scientific studies published in peer-reviewed journals on children’s head and body SAR. She found that the vast majority (>94%) of the published studies reported higher SAR and deeper RF penetration for children compared to adults. Most studies attributed the differences in the head SAR between children and adults to the thinner ear, skin and skull of the younger children. Other factors that might contribute to the difference include changes in the tissue property (conductivity and permittivity) for different age groups. For example, a 2010 study demonstrated that a child’s head RF absorption can be over 2 times greater, and absorption of the skull’s bone marrow can be 10 times greater than adults. And the whole-body average SAR in children was consistently found to exceed the 0.08 W/kg safety limit set by the FCC. The American Academy of Pediatrics, in a letter to Congressman Dennis Kucinich in December 2012, states: “Children are disproportionately affected by environmental exposures, including cell phone radiation.”

Not only do children experience higher exposure and deeper penetration from cell phone radiation, but they also face longer lifetime exposure. Many studies show that the health effects of wireless radiation are cumulative, but long term study data on the effect on children is not complete. Children’s developing nervous systems and immature immune systems make them more vulnerable to environmental toxicants, including wireless radiation so we feel this is reason to take extra precautions with children’s use of cellular devices.

In summary, we feel that children are not sufficiently protected by the existing FCC Safety Standard because no child model is used in the RF compliance testing. Research on children exposure indicates that action should be taken to limit children’s exposure to cell phone radiation and we encourage our readers to do so.

We feel strongly that everyone with children should take precautions on their cell phone uses. Please see our tips for reducing cell phone radiation exposure to get some easy tactics to use. We also suggest the use of a Pong cell phone case to assist in reducing radiation exposure.

[1] Information Sources: www.vouchercloud.net , Common Sense Media and the Pew Research Center

Related Reading:
What is near-field cell phone radiation?
U.S. National Toxicology Program study finds link between cell phone radiation and brain cancer.

New Study Concludes Cell Phone Radiation Causing Oxidative Damages in Cells

As wireless technologies are ubiquitous in modern living, the biological and health effects of wireless radiation have become a research topic of increasing importance. A review study published in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine in July 2015 by scientists from Ukraine concluded that low-intensity radio-frequency (RF) radiation such as cell phone radiation is an oxidative agent for living cells. Oxidative damage to cellular DNA can lead to mutations and may play an important role in the initiation and progression of various cancers.

The present work reviewed 100 experimental studies that investigated oxidative effects from low-intensity RF exposure. The 100 studies include 73 animal studies, 18 cell culture studies, 3 plant studies and 6 human studies. 93 out of the 100 reviewed studies demonstrated that low-intensity RF radiation induced oxidative effects in biological systems, while 7 studies demonstrated no effect.

Oxidative damage happens when a biological system is exposed to excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are chemically reactive molecules and can interact with other molecules in the body and damage various cell components such as DNA, protein and lipids. ROS are formed as a natural byproduct of the normal metabolism of oxygen and have important roles in cell signaling and biological system functioning. However, during times of environmental stress, ROS levels can increase dramatically and may result in significant damage to cell structures. This is known as oxidative stress.

To date, molecular mechanisms of non-thermal effects of RF radiation are still a bottle neck in the research on the biological and health effects of low-intensity RF radiation. The present work found that exposure to low-intensity RF radiation in living cells leads to generation of significant levels of ROS and results in a significant oxidative stress. Oxidative damage to cellular DNA can lead to mutations and may play an important role in the initiation and progression of various cancers. The study concluded that a broad biological potential of ROS and other free radicals makes low-intensity RF radiation a potentially hazardous factor for human health. The authors suggest minimizing the intensity and time of RF exposure, and taking a precautionary approach towards wireless technologies in everyday human life.

The safety limits of human exposure to RF radiation are regulated by governments and expert organizations around the world. The International Commissions on Non-Ionization Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) recommends safety limit for human exposure to be a SAR level of 2W/kg. The current safety limits are based on animal behavioral studies in the 1970s to avoid thermal distress effect. In the present work, “low-intensity” refers to intensity below the current ICNIRP safety limit.

In 2011, cell phone radiation was classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The classification was based on limited evidence of carcinogenesis from human studies, limited evidence from animal studies and weak evidence on mechanisms – at the time the IARC concluded that “there was weak evidence that exposure to RF radiation affects oxidative stress and alters the levels of reactive oxygen species”. The IARC acknowledged that there were not enough studies to make a reasonable assessment of the consistency of these findings.

The present work included more than 50 new studies in addition to those available at the time of classification. It concluded that “the analysis of modern data on biological effects of low-intensity RF radiation leads to a firm conclusion that this physical agent is a powerful oxidative stressor for living cells”. It raises the need for the IARC to reassess the updated body of scientific evidence on biological mechanisms of low-intensity RF radiation.

Read more about cell phone radiation »

COSMOS Study of Mobile Phone Use and Health Updates

As cell phones and other wireless devices become increasingly popular, there is a growing concern over the possible health impact of wireless technologies.  Science is still inconclusive on whether cell phone radiation is safe or harmful to humans. In the past decade, several large human studies have been carried out worldwide to examine possible links between cell phone use and brain cancer. Results from those studies are mixed and sometimes contradictory. Following a comprehensive review of the existing scientific evidence, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified cell phone radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” in 2011, based on limited evidence of increased brain tumor risk in long-term cell phone users. New research data for heavy and long-term mobile phone use is needed in order to answer the question.

The COSMOS study is an international cohort study aiming to investigate whether there are health problems linked to long-term use of mobile phones. It is being conducted in six European countries – UK, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and France.

On the COSMOS website, it states that:

“Many reviews have concluded that there is no convincing evidence to date that mobile phones are harmful to health. However, the widespread use of mobile phones is a relatively recent phenomenon and it is possible that adverse health effects could emerge after years of prolonged use. Evidence to date suggests that short term (less than ten years) exposure to mobile phone emissions is not associated with an increase in brain and nervous system cancers. However, regarding longer term use, the evidence base necessary to allow us to make firm judgments has not yet been accumulated. There are still significant uncertainties that can only be resolved by monitoring the health of a large cohort of phone users over a long period of time.”

The COSMOS study received funding of 2,028,700.00 Euro from both the government and industry. The Study started on April 1 2008 and is currently in its 2nd 5-year period (until May 31 2019). A total of 290,000 adult mobile phone users were recruited across Europe. Participants are asked to fill in an online questionnaire about their health, lifestyle and use of wireless technology. The study team gained permission from the participants to access their mobile phone records through their mobile phone operators and medical records via the Health and Social Care Information Center (HSCIC). The interested health information includes symptoms, like headaches, sleep disorders, tinnitus and chronic disease such as cancer, benign tumors, neurological diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and stroke). Participants are contacted approximately once a year to update their details or to request additional information. The intension of the study is to follow participant’s health status for 20-30 years.

The Study has been making good progress over the past few years. It finished participant recruitment and baseline data collection at the end of 2012. A major follow-up questionnaire was developed during 2012. The follow-up questionnaire focuses on mobile phones and wireless technologies, but also collects data on other environmental exposures in order to answer wider environment and health questions. In 2013, the team received mobile phone traffic data for approximately 80% of the participants. The team focused on data analysis in 2014 and plans to launch their follow-up questionnaire in 2015.

Currently, COSMOS is the only prospective cohort study specifically designed to address the important unanswered questions concerning long-term health risk to the public from wireless technologies. More information about the Study can be found at http://www.ukcosmos.org/index.html.

Learn more about cell phone radiation on the Pong Pulse »

The Effect of Cell Phone Radiation On Your Brain’s Activity

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies cell phone radiation as a “possible human carcinogen” due to an increased risk of brain cancer from long-term and heavy use of cell phones. Although short-term cell phone exposure has not been shown to cause brain tumors, research is showing that it can change your brain activity in ways we don’t fully understand yet.

Human brain cells communicate via electrical impulses, which can be detected by non-invasive EEG (Electroencephalogram) measurements. A recent mobile phone study by researchers from Netherlands found that when a dialing mobile phone is placed on the ear, its radiation, although not consciously sensed, is electrically detected by the brain. In the study, 31 healthy females were exposed to a 3G mobile phone for 15 minutes and their EEG activity was measured. Changed brain activity (i.e. cortical reactivity increase) was detected immediately after radiation peaks, which are produced during the phone’s normal dialing process.

The Netherlands study is not the first one to show an EEG change as a result of acute exposure to cell phone radiation. In 2015 a French study showed that the brain EEG pattern (alpha band) is altered by GSM cell phone radiation; a 2013 Italian mobile phone study also demonstrated significant changes in brain activity (i.e. cortical excitability) induced by 45-min exposure to GSM mobile phone; a 2013 Australian study showed altered brain EEG (alpha band) by GSM-like RF radiation. A 2011 Australian study showed an effect of acute 2G and 3G exposure on human cognitive functions. A 2010 U.S. study found that pulsed radiation from ordinary mobile phone use can trigger human brain evoked potentials (Eps) as detected by EEG.

Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging is another tool used to study the effect of cell phone radiation on human brain activity. Using PET scans, a 2011 U.S. study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) demonstrated that 50 minutes of cell phone use changed human brain glucose metabolism in the region of brain closest to the phone antenna. A 2006 Finland study also showed that mobile phone radiation induced changes in cerebral blood flow in humans.

The evidence from above studies shows that the human brain is sensitive to cell phone radiation. The observed brain activity change cannot be explained by only a heating (or thermal) effect as a result of temperature rise from energy absorption. However, no underlying biological mechanism has been identified to explain the effects. We also don’t know what health consequence may be resulted from such repeated stimulations. More research is still needed to understand the mechanism and long-term health effects of cell phone radiation on humans. The current safety standard did not take into account any non-thermal effects, such as evidenced in the above studies. As of today there is no known safe level of exposure to cell phone radiation.

Here at Pong, we feel it is important to be aware that our brains are sensitive to cell phone radiation and long-term exposure can cause possible adverse health effects such as brain cancer. The best thing you can do now is to take a proactive stance to reduce your exposure to cell phone radiation. There are ways to reduce your exposure to mobile phone radiation.  For some easy steps please refer to our article on tips to reduce mobile phone radiation exposure.  We think one of the best ways to limit your exposure is to use a radiation reduction phone case from Pong.

10 Tips to Limit Your Cell Phone Radiation Exposure

Exposure to cell phone radiation is a constant for most of us.  Our phone is with us all the time and is our connection to the world. Cell phones emit radio-frequency (RF) energy. When you hold your cell phone next to your head or wear it on your body, you can absorb over 50% of the transmitted RF energy. While cell phones bring enormous convenience to our lives, the possible health consequences of exposure to cell phone radiation have aroused considerable public attention and scientific debate.

Here at Pong, we feel that it is important to take precautionary steps to protect yourself and minimize your exposure while the cell phone radiation studies continue to gather data. So how to limit your exposure to cell phone radiation? The most effective, practical and proven way to protect yourself from exposure to cell phone radiation is to use a Pong radiation protection cell phone case. If you don’t have a Pong case yet, or one is not available for your particular mobile device, I have put together the following tips for things you can do in your daily life to help protect yourself and limit your exposure to cell phone radiation.

Avoid Body Contact

Follow the phone manufacturer’s warnings found in your owner’s manual and avoid using or carrying your cell phone against your head or body at all times.  Most recommend having at least 10mm of space between you and your phone.  That means you shouldn’t keep it in your pocket and women shouldn’t keep it in their bra.

Text More

Whenever possible, text rather than talk. When texting your phone will be likely held in your hand and further from your body.  This distance creates a much larger buffer between you and the powerful near field radiation from the phone.

Use Speaker Mode or a Wired Headset

If a call must be made, use the speakerphone or a wired headset.  When holding the phone against your head for a call you are increasing the amount of radiation your head will be absorbing.  Near field radiation from the phone is most concerning when the phone is against your body.  The speaker or wired headsets reduce the amount of near field radiation you are exposed to.

Shorter Calls

Limit the length of your cell phone conversations. This one is simple math.  Less time talking with a phone against your head equals less radiation going into your body.  Use a corded landline phone if available. Do not use a cordless phone for long conversations.

Limit Kids Cell Phone Use Time

Children should only use cell phones for emergencies or strictly in speaker mode at a safe distance. A child’s body is still developing and cell phone radiation penetrates a child’s brain more deeply than an adult brain.  Very few studies have been completed on the effect of this radiation on children’s development.

Switch Sides of Head When Talking

Switch sides regularly during a cell phone call to reduce radiation exposure to just one side of your head.  Most of us use the same hand all the time to hold the phone when we talk.  Try to switch to your other hand and it will help so that one side of your head doesn’t always get all the radiation.

Avoid Use When Low Signal

Avoid using your cell phone when the signal is weak or when moving at high speed, such as in a car or train. These scenarios cause mobile phones to increase their transmitting power in an attempt to connect to the nearest cell tower. You get more radiation and your battery drains faster under these conditions.

Wait For Call Connection

When making a call, wait for the call to connect before placing the phone next to the ear. The phone emits the most intense radiation during the initial connection, then lowers its power once a connection is established.  A couple extra seconds will go a long ways here.

Be Careful About “Shielding” Products

Follow FTC advice to avoid using products on your cell phone that claim to “shield” cell phone emissions, because they may interfere with the phone’s signal.  This may cause it to draw even more power and possibly emit more radiation as it is working harder to communicate.  (Note:  The Pong case does not shield radiation.  Instead it redirects and redistributes radiation, to reduce your exposure.)

Be Careful About What Case You Use

Do not use a cell phone case unless it has been proven not to increase SAR or weaken your cell phone signal. Many standard cases can weaken the cell phone’s signal, shorten battery life, or increase radiation emissions.

Use Airplane Mode

Turn your cell phone off or put it in airplane mode when not in use. If you must leave your cell phone on at night, keep your cell phone away from your head and body while you are sleeping. Your phone continues to emit radiation even when you are not making a call.

 

Should Cell Phone Radiation be Re-classified as a Probable Human Carcinogen (Group 2A)?

Cell phones are an indispensable part of our lives. The potential human health consequences of cell phone / mobile phone radiation exposure have become a topic of debate worldwide. Because our heads and bodies absorb more than 50% of the radiation from a cell phone in normal use, scientists have voiced concerns over whether or not cell phone radiation can cause brain tumors or other cancers.

IARC Classifications

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) categorizes agents into five categories: Group 1: carcinogenic to humans; Group 2A: probably carcinogenic to humans; Group 2B: possibly carcinogenic to humans; Group 3: not classifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans; and Group 4: probably not carcinogenic to humans. Both Group 2A and Group 2B classifications mean that there is some chance that an agent can cause cancer but we are not completely sure yet. Compared to Group 2B, Group 2A means more evidence toward a higher chance of cancer risk. An example of Group 2A agents is UV radiation, and an example of Group 2B agents is lead.

In 2011, the IARC classified cell phone radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B). The classification was mainly based on two lines of evidence at that time. The first was from a 13-country international study coordinated by the IARC known as the Interphone Study, which found a 40% increased risk of brain tumor called glioma for “heavy” cell phone users—which the study defined as an accumulated 1,640 hours or more life-time cell phone use, which is equivalent to about half-an-hour daily use for 10 years. (The proliferation of cell phone technology since the Interphone Study, of course, would consider this level of usage less than “heavy” by current standards.) The other line of evidence came from studies by Prof. Hardell in Sweden, which also found significantly increased risk of brain tumors for such long-term and heavy cell phone users.

The Debate

However, a 2015 mobile phone radiation study published in the International Journal of Oncology disagreed with the current IARC classification and believed that cell phone radiation should be reclassified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (group 2A) instead.

The study based its Group 2A argument on new scientific evidence that strengthened the association between cell phone radiation exposure and brain tumors. The new evidence was from a 2014 French study known as the CERENAT Study published in the British journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, which found increased risk of brain tumors for the “heaviest” cell phone users—which the study defined as those whose life-long cumulative duration of cell phone use is 896 hours or more, substantially below the level denoted as “heavy” use in the Interphone Study. Specifically, the CERENAT Study found an increased risk in those who had prolonged use, made numerous calls, whose use was especially occupational and more often in urban areas.

This study was not the first to argue that the IARC classification of cell phone radiation as a “possible carcinogen” should be raised to a “probable carcinogen” level. Last year, Dr. Dariusz Leszczynski, one of the 31 scientists invited by the IARC to classify cell phone radiation, also argued in his 2014 blog post that there were 3 independent lines of evidence (the Interphone Study, the studies by Prof. Hardell in Sweden and the CERENAT Study) reaching similar conclusions that long-term heavy cell phone use increases the risk of developing brain cancer and the evidence was sufficient to classify cell phone radiation as a probable human carcinogen (Group 2A). He further claimed that “three replicates of the epidemiological evidence makes human evidence strong and some might say that the human evidence is now sufficient to put the cell phone radiation in the category of human carcinogen (Group 1).”

New Study Underway

The best way to resolve the classification argument is through further research. A new international study (the COSMOS Study) is underway to address the important unanswered questions concerning the long-term public health risks from wireless technologies. The study started on April 1, 2008 and is currently in its second 5-year period (ending May 31, 2019). A total of 290,000 adult mobile phone users were recruited across Europe. The study plans to follow the participants’ health status for 20 to 30 years. The outcome from the COSMOS Study will provide further insight into the most appropriate classification of cell phone radiation.

Reduce Your Exposure

Here at Pong, we think cell phones are wonderful gadgets but remain concerned about the health effects of cell phone radiation. While waiting for more study outcomes, we expect a continuous debate on this subject. Meanwhile, we advise you to minimize your exposure to cell phone radiation. A Pong cell phone radiation reduction case can significantly reduce your cell phone radiation exposure in this regard.