Radiation from cellphones is harmful, but few want to believe it ...

For more than a decade Joel Moskowitz, a researcher at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and director of the Berkeley Center for Family and Community Health, has sought to prove that cell phone radiation is dangerous .

But, he said, most people don't want to hear it. “People are addicted to their smartphones,” Moskowitz said. "We use them for everything now and in many ways we need them to function in our daily lives.

I think the idea that they potentially harm our health is too much for some. people. Since cell phones first hit the market in 1983, they have gone from bulky devices with poor reception to today's stylish multifunction smartphones.

And although cell phones are now Used by almost all American adults, considerable research suggests that long-term use poses health risks because of the radiation they emit, Moskowitz said.

“Cell phones, cell phone towers and other wireless devices are regulated by most governments, ”Moskowitz said. "Our government, however, stopped funding research into the health effects of radio frequency radiation in the 1990s." Since then, he said, research has shown significant negative biological and health effects - including brain cancer - associated with the use of cell phones and other wireless devices.

And now, he said, with the fifth generation of cellular technology, known as 5G, there is even more reason to be concerned. Berkeley News spoke with Moskowitz about the health risks of cell phone radiation, why the topic is so controversial, and what we can expect with the 5G rollout.

Joel Moskowitz est chercheur à la School of Public Health et directeur
du Center for Family and Community Health de l'UC Berkeley.
(Photo de l'École de santé publique)

"Cell phones, cell phone towers and other wireless devices are regulated by most governments," Moskowitz said. “Our government, however, stopped funding research into the health effects of radio frequency radiation in the 1990s.”

Since then, he said, research has shown effects significant negative biological and health outcomes - including brain cancer - associated with the use of cell phones and other wireless devices. And now, he said, with the fifth generation of cellular technology, known as 5G, there is even more reason to be concerned.

Berkeley News spoke with Moskowitz about the health risks of cell phone radiation, why the topic is so controversial, and what we can expect with the 5G rollout.

Berkeley News : I think we should address at the outset how controversial this research is. Some scientists have said that these findings are baseless and that there is not enough evidence that cell phone radiation is harmful to our health. How do you respond to that?

Joel Moskowitz: Well, first of all, few scientists in this country can speak knowingly about the effects of technology without thread on health. So, I'm not surprised that people are skeptical, but that doesn't mean the results aren't valid.

A big reason there isn't more research on the health risks of RF radiation exposure is that the U.S. government stopped funding this research in the 1990s, with the exception of one $ 30 million rodent study published in 2018 by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

'National Toxicology Program, which found "clear evidence" for the carcinogenicity of cell phone radiation. In 1996, the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, adopted exposure guidelines that limited the intensity of exposure to radio frequency radiation.

These guidelines were designed to prevent significant tissue heating due to short-term exposure to radio frequency radiation, and not to protect us from the effects of long-term exposure to low levels of modulated or pulsed radio frequency radiation, which is produced by mobile phones, wireless. phones and other wireless devices, including Wi-Fi.

Yet the preponderance of research published since 1990 finds adverse biological and health effects from long-term exposure to radio frequency radiation, including DNA damage. More than 250 scientists, who have published more than 2,000 articles and letters in professional journals on the biological and health effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields produced by wireless devices, including cell phones, have signed the International EMF Scientist Appeal, which calls for stricter health warnings and exposure limits.

Thus, many scientists agree that this radiation is harmful to our health. I first heard you talk about the health risks of cell phone radiation in Berkeley in 2019, but you've been doing this research since 2009. What prompted you to pursue this research? I entered this field by accident, actually. Over the past 40 years, most of my research has focused on the prevention of tobacco-related illnesses.

I first became interested in cell phone radiation in 2008, when Dr. Seung-Kwon Myung, a medical researcher at the National Cancer Center of South Korea, came to spend a year at the Family and Community Health Center. He was involved in our smoking cessation projects and we worked with him and his colleagues on two reviews of the literature, one of which looked at tumor risk from cell phone use.

At that time, I was skeptical that cell phone radiation could be harmful. However, since I doubted that cell phone radiation could cause cancer, I delved into the literature regarding the biological effects of low-intensity microwave radiation emitted by cell phones and other wireless devices. After reading numerous animal toxicology studies that found that this radiation can increase oxidative stress - free radicals, stress proteins, and DNA damage - I became more and more convinced that what we were seeing in our review human studies was indeed a real risk.

While Myung and her colleagues visited the Center for Family and Community Health, you reviewed case-control studies examining the association between cell phone use and tumor risk. What did you find? Our 2009 review, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that heavy cell phone use was associated with an increased incidence of brain cancer, especially in studies using better quality methods and studies without funding. of the telecommunications industry.

Last year, we updated our review, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, based on a meta-analysis of 46 case-control studies - twice as many studies as those used for our 2009 review - and found similar results. Our main takeaway from the current review is that approximately 1,000 hours of lifetime cell phone use, or approximately 17 minutes per day over a 10-year period, is associated with a statistically significant 60% increase in brain cancer.

Why has the government stopped funding this kind of research? The telecommunications industry has almost total control over the FCC, according to Captured Agency, a monograph written by reporter Norm Alster during his 2014-15 Fellowship at the Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

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