Cancer-causing radiation: conspiracy or fact?

Oregon Senator Chip Shields presented a bill on Feb. 7 calling for labeling cell phones with a warning about a possible correlation between radiation and cancer.

Oregon Senator Chip Shields presented a bill on Feb. 7 calling for labeling cell phones with a warning about a possible correlation between radiation and cancer. Citing a lack of government oversight and implications in scientific peer reviewed studies as the reason for the bill, the controversy has voters, the scientific community and cell phone companies in quite a tizzy over who has it right.

The overwhelming majority of the available evidence indicates that there is no correlation between the non-ionizing radiation emitted from cell phones and the alteration of cells can create cancer. Unlike the ionizing radiation from devices such as X-rays, which can cause cancer, studies have been inconclusive as to what the long-term effects of cell phone use may be. The website for The National Institute of Cancer has an exhaustive FAQ, instilling faith that no, as far as we know, cell phones don’t cause cancer.

Considering that this is the first time in history that there are 285 million cell phone subscribers, adequate information as to the cancer-causing ability of these gadgets once we have them pressed to our ears for 15, 20 or 100 years can’t even be demonstrated.

What does this mean for lay people who, first of all, are not going to read all the scientific journals and secondly, have to trust that our government and the scientists that work for consumer health are telling the truth?

Proponents of the bill say that a conflict of interest exists in the largest peer review study done on the health impacts of cell phones, conducted by Interphone. According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, not only is the Interphone study bias because a majority of the funding came from the cell phone industry, but problems also exist in the science itself.

However, when it came time to site which study does indicate a positive correlation/causation between cell phones and cancer, the Interphone study was the one cited in a statement released by Shields as well as an article in The Washington Post.

Now, I am generally a “don’t trust The Man” kinda gal, but the heap of intellectual dishonesty mounding around this circus is enough to have even me siding with the corporate ringmasters at Apple, AT&T and Verizon. There simply isn’t enough evidence to warrant labeling cell phones.

Frankly, they are both “The Man.” I trust neither of them to be especially concerned with my health. Especially not when the issue has become so convoluted and the media has clung to the firestorm, giving validity to both sides’ agendas.

Don’t let them fool you with their web of paranoia and conspiracy. Both sides of this debate do have an agenda. One side wants you to keep buying cell phones, and wants them label-free, as to not make you think twice about how often you expose yourself to radiation, while the other wants to push a political envelope for his party.

Shields has even gone so far as to declare that he feels neither way about whether or not cell phones actually cause cancer, but that he is merely “acting as a referee.”

While each party plays this high-stakes game, you can be sure that both sides have waged a bet that consumers will believe whoever wins. It’s a lose-lose situation for the scientific method, as both the cell phone companies and the government are relying on the lack of knowledge and trust in the scientific community that the American public has—a fact that has been demonstrated from similar cell phone label bills are already in place in San Francisco and Maine.

This lack of trust in science is partially caused by biased funding in scientific studies. It seems the only way to keep it honest is, instead of wasting money labeling cell phones, spend it on an impartial study on cell phones. Let’s also keep the study going for many decades to come.

Only when the public can believe the information they are being bombarded with can we see if an idea such as warning labels on cell phones even makes sense. Otherwise we are pushing the cancer panic button without warrant. ?