Counterpunch: there’s no proof mobiles cause cancer
We respect Dr Teo’s work as a brain surgeon and acknowledge his right to express his strong personal opinions about mobile phone safety and health issues.
However, our industry relies on the expert opinion of national and international health agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which have found no convincing evidence that radio frequency exposure within internationally accepted safety limits causes adverse harmful health effects.
The WHO says in its fact sheet Number 193 of June 2011: “A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.”
The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) rejects Dr Teo’s claims of alleged improper industry influence over research into mobile phone health and safety. We call on Dr Teo to provide evidence to back his claims.
The facts are:
First, the industry is committed to supporting independent scientific expert research to provide accurate science-based information to assist consumers make informed choices about their use of mobile technology and health.
Industry funding is provided under strict protocols, which guarantee the study’s complete scientific independence.
For example, international industry groups, the Mobile Manufactures Forum and the GSMA, provided some funding for Interphone under strict agreements which ensured the study’s integrity, accountability and transparency.
Interphone, a 13-nation study, is the biggest study undertaken of its kind into potential health impacts of mobile phones. It was co-ordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the WHO and adds to the large body of existing research into health effects of radiofrequency emissions.
Secondly, Professor Bruce Armstrong of the University of Sydney, who led the Australian team of Interphone researchers, was asked about funding of Interphone. He said the European Union provided half the funding on condition that the other half came from industry through the International Union Against Cancer. In other words, governments made it a condition of funding that industry provided support.
Professor Armstrong answered claims about alleged industry interference in the study: “Basically from the level of investigators at Interphone, we never received, never saw, never felt and never smelt anything from industry that suggested we should do anything other than what we as investigators thought we should be doing in relation to design, conduct, analysis and reporting. I am personally satisfied that there was no influence, and if there had been then I think I would have known.”
Thirdly, the Federal Government provides about $1 million a year for research into health and safety of mobiles telecommunications. The money comes from mobile phone industry licence fees and is arms-length from industry and the Federal Government sets the amount of the levy based on what it believes is an appropriate amount of research funding as Australia’s part of global WHO co-ordinated research programs.
Dr Teo claims on The Punch that the mobile phone industry has denied researchers access to call records. That is not correct. The industry has co-operated in making mobile usage data available to independent researchers.
Industry has provided extensive call usage records for the Interphone study group in Australia. Records dating back 15 years were provided after considerable effort and represented more extensive data than was provided to many of the other international groups involved in Interphone.
Australian industry continues to co-operate with national and international research programs where requests are made for assistance in call usage records, technical data about the mobile phone network. At all times, protocols exist to ensure researchers are free to conduct, analyse and report their research as they see fit.
The industry is involved with the Australian arm of the international Mobi-Kids research study and is responding to requests for phone usage records as they are submitted, and where technology and privacy limitations allow.
Dr Teo repeatedly claims that the incidence of brain cancer is increasing and he surmises that it could be linked to mobile phone use. He should provide any study he has to back his claim to an independent expert scientific body for assessment because the clear scientific consensus around the world is that there is no substantiated evidence of an increase in brain cancer and no association between brain tumour risk and mobile phone use.
The World Cancer Report, undertaken by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), says:
“With reference to radio frequency, available data do not show any excess risk of brain cancer and other neoplasms associated with the use of mobile phones.”
In a new examination of United States cancer incidence data in March this year, investigators at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reported that brain cancer incidence trends have remained roughly constant for glioma, the main type of brain cancer hypothesized to be related to cell phone use.
The researchers found that while cell phone use increased substantially over the period 1992 to 2008 (from nearly zero to almost 100 percent of the population), the US trends in glioma incidence did not mirror that increase. Results of this study were published online March 8, 2012, in the British Medical Journal.
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