Presented by Dr Devra Davis Ph.D.
Dr. Devra Davis is the visiting Professor of Medicine at the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, and Visiting Professor of Medicine at Ondokuz Mayis University, Turkey.
What are the health effects of mobile phones and wireless radiation? While Australia has led the world in safety standards, including compulsory seat-belt legislation, plain packaging on cigarettes, and product and food disclosure legislation, it falls behind in addressing the significant issues associated with mobile phone use.
In this Dean’s Lecture, epidemiologist and electromagnetic radiation expert, Dr Devra Davis, will outline the evolution of the mobile phone and smartphone, and provide a background to the current 19-year-old radiation safety standards (SAR), policy developments and international legislation.
New global studies on the health consequences of mobile/wireless radiation will be presented, including children’s exposure and risks.
Transcript - The Truth About Cellphone & Wireless Radiation - Part 3
We are not conducting additional research. And in fact, the World Health Organization itself is no longer conducting a leading study on brain cancer and mobile phones. Environmental Health trust the organization that I head published an article in 2013, saying that we think that mobile phone radiation is a probable human carcinogen.
I want to show you briefly the reasons why we reached that conclusion. These are studies published since the World Health Organization IARC review in 2011. So, these are newer studies. Here, Hardell from Sweden, and Sarah Not from France.
What these are showing you is that the relative risk of developing brain cancer with more than 1640 hours of lifetime use of a phone is almost three times higher compared to people who did not use mobile phones.
Now this, I know, this seems like very confusing. These numbers don’t make a lot of sense to many of you. But really, the way you get these numbers is it’s like waiting for the grass to grow. You study people who have brain cancer and you compare them with people who don’t have brain cancer, but they’re otherwise similar.
They’re your controls, and you compare the people with brain cancer to those who don’t have the disease. And you ask, well, do you remember what you talked on the phone? It’s not a very precise science.
Actually, there’s a lot of problems with what are called exposure misclassification; It biases you toward the null hypothesis. The reality is, it’s a very poor way of doing research, but we don’t have an alternative at this point. And what we need to do is to get the cooperation of telecom industry to get billing records so we actually have real data, instead of asking people to remember how much they use their phone.
That’s something that again, you might be able to do in Australia. But I can tell you, we can’t do it in the United States, that’s for sure. In France, they were able to do it a little bit better, and they were able to get these data here. And interestingly, if people started to use phones regularly before age 20, as most of the world is doing now, there was four to eight times more brain cancer after 10 years.
So now, why is there no increase in brain cancer that we can find in the general population today? Because there is none. And after all, if mobile phones really are important, why don’t we have an epidemic today?
Well, let me tell you why. First of all, brain cancer takes a long time to develop. How do we know that? We know that because when the bombs fell at the end of World War II, there was no increase in brain cancer in the survivors who had been studied, no increase at all. Until 40 years had passed.
It took 40 years for an increase in brain cancer to show up in that highly exposed population.
Now, think about this. Today, the number of people using cell phones today and using them heavily today is very different than it was, even five years ago, even three years ago. Now you’re being encouraged to have unlimited talk and text, right?
You didn’t have unlimited talk and text five years ago, or 10 years ago. So, the uses and the users of phones are changing radically. And in fact, most epidemiologic studies find no increased risk of brain cancer from mobile phone radiation. They don’t. Until 10 years of heavy use.
And by the way, the way they define a cell phone user in these studies… I’m not making this up… is somebody who makes one call a week for six months. Yes, that was the… Yes. One call a week for six months, that was the definition in these studies, which by the way, don’t find any increase. Alright?
So, I’m not saying this to say that they did a bad job. I’m saying that we are challenged here with how do you do a study of something that’s rapidly changing while you’re studying it. The technology has changed. The way people have used it has changed. We never anticipated having infants and toddlers and cribs using these things. Nobody ever anticipated that.
There’s never been a modeling of the brain until we did this right now.
And when I first did, my colleagues, by the way, it took us four years to get this work done. And four years ago, I said, let’s do that modeling. And they said, what are you talking about? Why would anybody want to model an infant of a three years old using a mobile phone? I said, you wait, unfortunately.
And so now we have the market because the adult market is saturated. Australia already has more phones than people. It does. And so the market expands to the infants and toddlers.
Now, I want to share with you some of the work from my colleagues in India. Dr. Sharma is the Senior Deputy Director General of the Indian Council of medical research. And this work, Malka, I think it will be a great interest to you because you work on honey bees. We don’t just have to wait for brain cancer to take 40 years to come up with answers.
Honey Bees have the advantage of being relatively easy to study and they’re actually are established protocols for doing this. And I’m going to share with you some of these data, and they had been developed by colleagues from a number of countries.
Honey Bees have different characteristic dance patterns and they have different jobs. There’s the worker bees, and there’s the bees that make the honey and there’s the bees that protect the queen. And I don’t know all the details, but here’s what I do know. If you try to study these under controlled conditions, you can take hives and put a mobile phone in some hives and a mobile phone in other hives that’s not on.
What you can find is that after exposing the honeybees to an operating mobile phone, the workers don’t come back to the hives. Now this ought to be of great concern, because agriculture depends on honeybees. I think you and Australia have a new business is developed. I know it’s in the United States where people drive trucks around with hives in it to fertilize crops. Have you heard of this? They drive them around because the honeybees are disappearing.
Now, there are many different factors that affect honeybees. Climate is certainly one. Pesticides is certainly another. But mobile phone radiation could be yet another. And we certainly need to find out if that is the case. 10 minutes of mobile phone radiation daily for 10 days, worker bees did not return to test colonies. And this would be something that could easily be replicated.
So now, we have to deal with reality. There are many inconsistent results. I’m not just skimming the cream here and showing you the positive ones. There are a lot of studies that find nothing at all, nothing. Why? Well, first of all, sometimes they study different cell cultures.
So, if you’re looking for adult cells, they may be much more robust than if you’re looking at neuronal stem cells. And that turns out to be the case. Sometimes their using different exposures if you’re looking at continuous wave versus digital pulse signals, if you’re looking at a square wave versus a sine wave.
Governments and Cellphone Radiation
There’s also another fact we have to talk about, which is yet another reason why I’m glad that Australia is not America. Sponsored research, this is, to put it politely, can induce publication bias. Another way to say this is that where you stand on an issue depends on where you sit and who’s bought your chair.
There’s a tremendous amount of sponsored research by people who are hired to do studies to find no effect. And that’s plagued this field in a number of countries, including within the government itself.
So, I don’t know about the details here with ARPANSA. But I can tell you, in the United States today, the gentleman who is directing the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, was for 10 years, the executive director of the cell phone Telecommunications Industry Association. And now he’s in charge of regulating those devices.
So, it’s challenging to have a neutral playing field under that circumstance.
One example, the US Congress asked for a study of what needed to be done on mobile phone radiation in 1993, in 1998, in 2002, in 2012. That’s how many times they’ve asked for that study to be done. So each time a study is done, and each time that conclusion is reached, we need more research. We need more research. Well, that’s my bread and butter. Of course, we need more research.
But if instead of funding the research, all you’re doing is calling for it, then it becomes a bit of a smokescreen. So, that’s part of our challenge on this issue. It’s a lot easier to call for research than it is to carry it out. This research is hard to do. It’s not simple. There are real complexities to this field.
Unfortunately, at least in the past, industry had a very clear strategy. And in my book, “Disconnect”, I document and quote in the new afterward in that in 1994, when industry first became aware that there were studies suggesting that mobile phone radiation could damaged brain cells of rats, a memo was written to quote war-game, the science. War-game, the science.
This issue is far too important to be gamed. It’s not a matter of war. It’s a matter of the future health of your children and grandchildren. And that’s why it’s really a special honor for me to be here today to talk with you about what could be done. Here are some of the policy responses that have developed so far. There are right to know laws and policies. Labeling is spreading. Headsets must be provided with all phones in a number of countries. And I’ll get to those in a moment.
Cellphone Radiation Policy Responses
There are changes in hardware and antenna design and software operating systems that can be developed. And there are also changes to what we demand for proof of evidentiary burden. Any lawyers here? Right. So, the evidentiary burden that’s being required for proof of harm is changing.
Do you really want to have to prove that there’s a significant increased risk of brain cancer before taking steps to reduce exposures to prevent that harm from happening? That’s really the question. How much evidence do we need before taking precautionary steps?
That’s what brings me back to my days at the National Academy of Sciences when we seriously looked at the evidence on passive smoke and airplane travel. We only finally took steps to act when it became clear that children of smokers were hospitalized more often. That was the evidence that we had to have.
I would suggest that at this point, we should be able to do better as a civilization. To start with, we need standardized ways to evaluate things. There is no standardized metric. That’s something you could develop. At this school in particular.
One of the other things that can be done, which our colleagues in India are doing is to create cross sectional surveys. In this room right now, you can divide this room up into people who are high, medium, and low cell phone users. Probably, nobody who doesn’t have a phone, or who will admit to it right now.
But if you did look at people cross sectionally and you looked at their memory, and their reaction time and their reproductive health, you would learn a lot from that. And they are doing that now in India. And we’ll talk some more about that my conversations they’ll have with some of the faculty later on.
Common Sense Local RF Radiation Policies
In the meantime, some schools are promoting wired school programs with shared banks of computers. And public educational efforts are really proceeding to let people know you shouldn’t have to find that information buried inside your phone. I mean, come on. That’s not fair.
Parents, teachers and health professionals should be informed and they in turn can work with students to make sure people are using technology in as safe a way as possible.
Now, here’s some of the other policies that have been developed. In France, if there’s a ban on advertising to young children under age 12, by the way, all cell phones have to be sold with earpieces, there has to be labeling of this specific absorption rate on phones, and there’s got to be warnings.
In India, they’ve lowered their tower limits to one 10th, that of the international standards. And they have official guidelines for cell phone use using headsets and speakerphones. The Supreme Court in India has actually ordered a number of towers to be torn down. But it’s a very tough battle to have to fight. Rather than having to get a tower torn down, there ought to be citing rules and policies that make sense.
In many countries, there are no real sensible citing policies. Israel, which is a country that has a lot of important issues to deal with right now has a National Institute on non-ionizing radiation. They say no Wi-Fi in kindergarten. They all prefer wired over wireless in schools. All phones, again, are to come with headsets and safety. And no advertising to children.
In Belgium, the law has been implemented as of 2014. It was passed in 2013. No phones are to be designed or sold for children under the age of seven. Again, all handsets must be sold with headsets, and the sale to young children is specifically prohibited. Prohibited.
Canada has issued practical advice as well. And I don’t go into any more details here. These slides will become available on the website for the university. And we have much more detailed information I can share with you from our website as well.
The Canadian parliamentary health committee has urged that there be a recognition that this is a “quote” serious, serious public health issue. And we agree. And I testified before the Canadian Parliament on this issue, and I was pleased to see their report agree with that point.
Now, the United States, a US District Court has recently ruled that even if there is a reasonable possibility that cell phone radiation is carcinogenic, the time for action in the public health and regulatory sectors is upon us. And I think that that is a very important idea that we should all be aware of.
Let’s not debate the kinds of evidence we have now about brain cancer. I agree that evidence can be debated. But we have enough evidence of damage, and we have these other countries have taken steps now. They can’t all be dismissed.
Berkeley, California has unanimously passed the cell phone “Right to know” law. It’s called an ordinance. Requiring notification that if you carry your phone in your pants or shirt pocket, or tucked into a bra when the phone is on, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation.
This is a website that has all of the fine print warnings, so far as we know them, available. Environmental Health Trust is working with others to share this information. We hope you’ll share it with all of your friends and family. This is the baby safe project that we have underway – https://ehtrust.org/
And now, just so you understand that this is not a question of being anti-industry, here’s what industry is doing. Vodafone has to provide a report to the American government as part of their annual reporting to the Securities and Exchange Commission. They must report on what are called risk factors and uncertainties.
They report that they face risks because they may have to pay people for health damages. The last sentence there, a change to this view that there’s no health problem could result in a major reduction in phone usage or major litigation. That’s a risk.
China Mobile in their reports to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, they had to say, we cannot be certain that future studies will not impute a link between electromagnetic fields and adverse health effects. And because of that, it’s a potential risk as well.
AT&T says, unfavorable litigation could result and require us to pay significant amounts of money. Well, speaking of money, would you give two cents, would you pay two cents a month for every device you have, for every provider, for every manufacturer, in order to support the cross disciplinary training program that is needed in bio-electromagnetics?
For engineers, and physicians and computer scientists, that’s what’s needed. To identify the data gaps, the research and development needs, to monitor the populations to see what is happening to our children today, to look at hearing and memory and sperm count, that’s what I think we need. We need a major program to fund independent research and training.
Because I learned this way, way after I went to all that schooling you mentioned at the beginning. And it’s not easy stuff to do. I take my hat off to all of you electrical engineers. It’s complicated. But in the meantime, people have a right to know how you can minimize exposure. And again, I think this information is available on our website. It will be available on yours.
Remember, if you have to get a phone to a child, put it on airplane mode. And think about this, that microwave oven it works, because it’s a metal box around the microwave signal, and the signal pings all over the place. Next time you get into an elevator or a train for any length of time, put your phone on airplane mode. Otherwise, that signals going all over the place magnifying and coming back.
Keep the mobile phone away from you when it’s on and you are asleep. Now, it takes a village to do a lot of things. These are some of the people whose materials I’ve used today, with their permission.
And I can’t read this list to you. But I want you to know that I feel really honored to be working with some of the most talented people in the world on this issue. And they have given me permission to share these materials with you.
I leave you with this thought from Albert Einstein. “The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because of those who look at it without doing anything.”
Online Responses to Dr. Davis’ Presentation
Mike Flavell – “I’m only 75 and can remember the days when the cumulative of smoking was denied by authorities. Is the same happening with mobile devises. Follow the money trail usually finds the truth.”
FaithHopeLove7 – “We work like rats to survive & then literally give these people all of our money to kill us…think about it.”
Nafreehc – “She’s absolutely right that most research finds what its sponsors are paying it to find.”
John Mark Evans – “I am urging EVERYONE to search this 5G(mmWave) is a Patented US Army battlefield mapping Weapon. This is going to be more devastating than most realize.”
Sha – “When “smart” can be dangerous and reduce the reproductive health. Sounds like stealth population control…”
Sharon Wolford – “My dad , who is 80 years old, kept having heart palpitations. He went to the doctor and the doctor told him it was just part of aging. My father refused to accept this. My father, a “health nut” who still plays tennis 2 times per week, walks and takes long bike rides, refused to believe that aging could cause this sudden change. While experimenting with his daily routine he thought that eating his dark chocolate, late at night, might be the culprit, so he stopped. The palpitations continued. He finally realized the palpitations were caused by carrying his cell phone in his shirt pocket. He stopped carrying his cell phone in his shirt pocket and the palpitations stopped. I wonder how many senior citizens have resigned to believing that aging is causing their heart to misfire? Smh this is sad. Thank you for exposing the truth!”
Meekseek – “Bees disappearing due to climate? How Typical to ignore cell towers, round up, and weather modification which is the cause of CLIMATE CHANGE.”
Nola Jacob – “I had sky high blood pressure, panic attacks and finally discovered they were caused by EMFs. Once I converted everything back to ethernet cables and got totally rid of Wi-Fi, my symptoms subsided.”
Pamela Fry – “This is terrifying – especially in the light of the new 5G roll out…”
Designer- Garb – “That was one of the most informative videos I have watched on YouTube, A few months ago my brother died of 3 forms of cancer, he worked as the head of IT in a local school and spent much of his day in a small room with wall to wall computers, I think Schools should ban all mobile phones and turn off local towers and lose Wi-Fi unless it can be proven safe, the evidence so far is already compelling.”
About the Speaker - Dr. Devra Davis Ph.D.
Dr. Devra Davis is an internationally recognized expert on electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones and other wireless transmitting devices. She is currently the Visiting Professor of Medicine at the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, and Visiting Professor of Medicine at Ondokuz Mayis University, Turkey.
Dr Davis was Founding Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute — the first institute of its kind in the world, to examine the environmental factors that contribute to the majority of cases of cancer.
In 2007, Dr Devra Davis founded nonprofit Environmental Health Trust to provide basic research and education about environmental health hazards. Dr Davis served as the President Clinton appointee to the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board in the U.S.A. from 1994–1999, an independent executive branch agency that investigates, prevents and mitigates chemical accidents.
As the former Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services, she has counseled leading officials in the United States, United Nations, European Environment Agency, Pan American Health Organization, World Health Organization, and World Bank.
Dr Davis holds a B.S. in physiological psychology and an M.A. in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh, 1967. She completed a PhD in science studies at the University of Chicago as a Danforth Foundation Graduate Fellow, 1972 and a M.P.H. in epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University as a Senior National Cancer Institute Post-Doctoral Fellow, 1982.
She has authored more than 200 publications and has been published in Lancet and Journal of the American Medical Association as well as the Scientific American and the New York Times.
Dr Devra Davis is an internationally recognized expert on electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones and other wireless transmitting devices.