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January 20, 2006

Comments

Jim

"so much quackery lapped up by ignorant hordes who take fright at anything with the word "radiation" associated with it."

It may have been before your time, but when microwave ovens came out, there were people who wouldn't eat food that had microwaves in it.

Anyway considering the number of lives that have been saved because people had cell phones on them and could call for help and have it reach them before it was too late, a few cancer death would have been a small trade off, had there ever been any.

Julian Elson

No. They just cause irritation.

dsquared

hang on ... not all carcinogens work by damaging DNA, and if you can boil an egg with a mobile phone, you can certainly cause enough irritation to the tissue to have a potentially carcinogenic effect. I'm perfectly prepared to believe these guys' research that it's not a material risk factor, but you're not right to claim that you can read this off a "passing knowledge of quantum mechanics".

Abiola

"not all carcinogens work by damaging DNA"

Well then, what other mechanisms *are* there by which electromagnetic waves could possibly cause cancer? Please detail for me any you're aware of, and links to any serious papers which list them.

"if you can boil an egg with a mobile phone, you can certainly cause enough irritation to the tissue to have a potentially carcinogenic effect."

If all it took to cause cancer were a little heat, most people who'd suffered from heat blisters would have ended up having to see oncologists - care to show me an elevated cancer risk in burn victims? Sorry, but mere "irritation" - whether we're talking heat-induced or that caused by mechanical chafing - cannot seriously be regarded as a causative factor for cancer, which is a disease at whose heart is that some of the body's cells have decided to obey their own rogue instructions at the expense of the rest.

"you're not right to claim that you can read this off a "passing knowledge of quantum mechanics"."

No, in fact I *am.* Cancer research is hardly a field in its infancy, nor is the role of electromagnetism in causing cancer something which began to be investigated yesterday, and unless someone can give me a plausible mechanism by which low-frequency emissions could possibly have carcinogenic effects, I'll continue to say that those who take such claims seriously are scientifically ignorant subscribers to junk science. If one is so concerned about elevated cancer risk, better to meditate on the dangers of exposing oneself to tobacco smoke, being outside in the sunshine and allowing UV rays to hit one's skin, or never bothering to check radon levels in one's basement.

dsquared

[care to show me an elevated cancer risk in burn victims? ]

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=%22burn+scar+carcinoma%22

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=%22non+mutagenic+carcinogens%22

The most common non-mutagenic carcinogen is alcohol, which is why people who drink and smoke are at much greater risk of mouth cancer than people who just smoke. Non-mutagenic carcinogens work by impairing the ability of the cells to repair the sort of genetic damage that occurs every day of the week, according to the internets. (One might also note that there is decent reason to assume that skin cells are better at self-repair than brain cells)

It so happens, apparently, that mobile phones don't cause cancer. But they might have done and it was certainly worth investigating. I for one am glad that medical scientists decide to do the work, in general, rather than relying on arrogant and high-handed pronouncements about what can't possibly be true for anyone who has a "basic knowledge" of something or other.

dsquared

[If all it took to cause cancer were a little heat, most people who'd suffered from heat blisters would have ended up having to see oncologists - care to show me an elevated cancer risk in burn victims? ]

also note here that you're mixing up epidemiology with medicine. The statement that "tissue irritation can cause cancer" doesn't imply any particular statement about the frequency of cancer in burn victims.

me2i81

Mitogenesis is widely believed to cause mutagenesis. This is the explanation for the "positive" saccharine carcoinogenesis studies--saccharine was given in such high doses that it crystallized in the stomach, causing repeated irritation of the stomach lining. It's also why MTD dosage studies are not useful for predicting carcinogenesis without looking at mechanisms or expected doses.

None of that explains any link to cell phone radiation, however. If that were the case, the daily brain lesions from using a cell phone would be a more immediate issue than long-term tumor risk.

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