cancer Archives — LIRNEasia

Does mobile use make us sick?

Posted on June 25, 2016  /  0 Comments

It was a challenge to teach about the health issues associated with mobile networks to over 80 members of the Yangon Regional Hluttaw (regional Parliament), including the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. I am not qualified in medicine, but I keep getting asked whether a new mobile BTS being erected in a neighborhood or a son’s or daughter’s “excessive” mobile use is likely to cause health problems. I realize the questioner, generally a member of the public who has made the effort to find my number and call me me cold, is highly worried and is also placing a great deal of trust in me. Therefore, I have made the effort to keep up with the research and respond based on the best possible evidence and with sensitivity to their fears. The slides that I used in my talk are based primarily on the writings of the brilliant Siddhartha Mukherjee, supplemented by a recent Australian study.
Below are excerpts from the abstract of a paper entitled “Has the incidence of brain cancer risen in Australia since the introduction of mobile phones 29 years ago?,” published in Cancer Epidemiology. Significant increases in brain cancer incidence were observed (in keeping with modelled rates) only in those aged 70 years (both sexes), but the increase in incidence in this age group began from 1982, before the introduction of mobile phones. Modelled expected incidence rates were higher in all age groups in comparison to what was observed. Assuming a causal RR of 2.

Real risk and perceptions of risk

Posted on June 19, 2012  /  1 Comments

I started reading about cancer because people kept pestering me about electro magnetic radiation from mobile handsets and towers. Siddhartha Mukherjee is the best writer on cancer. But I have to admit I have yet to read his Pulitzer winning “The emperor of all maladies.” In Ohio, where I lived for over a decade, they took asbestos really seriously. Buildings were condemned because of asbestos.
Causation is a central concern of science. In closed systems such as those found in Chemistry and Physics, this is generally not too difficult. In open systems such those that we work on (i.e., telecom use) it is a tremendously difficult problem because multiple factors are at work at the same time and interacting with each other and with the phenomenon we’re trying to establish the cause for.

Mobiles, cancer and lightning

Posted on June 8, 2011  /  3 Comments

The trigger for this post was a call from an outlying area in Sri Lanka. A concerned citizen had got hold of my number and wanted my advice on the effects of cell towers an an observed increase in lightning strikes in his area. I told him that people tend to associate new things like cell towers with increases in lightning strikes, without factoring in the possibilities that (a) there was really no change in lightning strikes, there just appeared to be an increase; and (b) other factors may have changed, including the houses that were being hit by lightning. I said that I could not agree to explanations that went counter to basic physics, namely that high objects such as cell towers would not attract lighting and would instead cause lighting to hit objects that were lower in elevation such as houses. I directed him to several government agencies, including the Telecom Regulatory Commission which was said to have launched a nationwide study on the subject.

Mobiles and cancer: No causal link

Posted on April 15, 2011  /  2 Comments

I was surprised by the response to a recent piece that I wrote on mobilephobia and health. There seems to be a deep well of anxiety on this topic. Siddhartha Mukherjee is an author I greatly admire. I will read his book Emperor of all maladies when they extend the day to 26 hours. He has written a beautifully argued piece on mobiles and cancer in the last NYT magazine.