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 2
But the question is, what’s the cumulative impact of this kind of exposure? How do we evaluate it? How do we study it?
The problem we face is that right now, we’re in the midst of an experiment on my grandchildren and your children. And we don’t have anybody to compare them with.
We don’t have a control group in science. When you are given a drug, it’s usually been studied, where some people get the drug and some people don’t get the drug, and they’re called the controls. And then you see whether are not those who got the drug are healthier than those who did not.
And when you get results, you can conclude if there is a difference between the exposed and the control group that your drug has worked.
Well, when it comes to mobile phone radiation, we’ve lost our ability to have a true control group that, even now with young children. More than half of young children today have access to these devices. And I read this morning, the age that something like 13% of children age two can order their own apps.
I mean, I find it hard to imagine how a parent would give a child age two a device, which was allowing them to order their own app.
So, where are we with respect to research on infants, toddlers and young children and pregnancy? Well, there’s almost no research underway, which again, is why I’m delighted to be here to talk with you about what could be developed. Believe it or not, this is the iPoty. Now, it’s not a joke.
I have actually talked to grandmothers as I’m one of them. My grandchildren did not have an iPoty, I promise you. Their father sometimes acts like he did. A lot of people today take devices into the bathroom all the time.
But there are actually young children who will not go to the potty without their iPad. Does anybody know anybody like that? Any kids? Yes. Is that amazing?
And nobody’s even thinking about this, as what it might mean for radiation exposure. And parent magazine called the iPad, the best babysitter. I mean, if you need an iPad for a babysitter, you need to rethink having children.
I understand. I understand giving cranky children something to distract them on a long car trip. But please put it on airplane mode. Don’t think that you’re doing something good for your child if you hand them a device and it’s a two-way microwave radio.
Now, I want to show you something that you may find hard to believe. But of course, anybody who’s been around babies lately knows that this is what they do with anything you give them. That’s how they learn things. They put them in their mouth.
But this is something that you have to watch to believe it. Child seat with attached iPad holder.
NATO may be familiar to some of you, and NATO for years has supported research on radar. Radar, of course, gave birth to the microwave oven. How many of you know that? Okay. The first microwave oven was called a radar range. The guides figured out that they could cook things with radar and they thought it was pretty cool.
They actually discovered it because when guys would be standing on the deck and it was cold at night, they would warm themselves in front of the radar. And if they had chocolate in their pocket, it would melt.
So, that’s how they decided to figure out what would happen if you beamed radar at things like hot dogs and corn. And soon enough that gave birth to the radar range. But women didn’t like the idea of cooking with radar. Guys thought it was pretty cool.
So, they rekindled the name to microwave. It sounded dainty and more palatable. And nowadays, a microwave oven is a staple around the world.
Experimental studies have been supported by NATO on radar for years. And one of the laboratories they’ve supported is that, a Professor Desmond Zhan and her colleagues. And environmental health trust convened an international conference with her laboratory partners and the Ministry of Health of Turkey in 2011.
And I want to show you briefly some of the work that that developed from that laboratory.
This is showing you cellular damage that occurred in animals that were prenatally exposed to mobile phone radiation that was produced by a computer simulating the mobile phone exposure under controlled conditions. Right? So, because you can’t really get rats to make phone calls, you’ve got to model the exposure.
What they did is, then they measured in, these are your controls that you compare things with, and these were the exposed, prenatally exposed just to 15 minutes a day for seven days. Not much exposure. But these are small animals and they grow, within three weeks, they reproduce.
What they were able to study was changes in liver melon aldehyde, which is a measure of… Peroxidation is the measure of damage to the liver, right? So, these animals basically had significant damage to their liver, if they had been exposed prenatally, compared to controls.
Now, another group in Turkey has looked at prenatal effects on the brain and the testes. And, you know, a lot of countries have. This is a very important research that’s been done here. And they looked at counting the number of cells in certain areas of the brain, the hippocampus, which is a critically important part of the brain.
Since I see there’s a lot of non-expert here, and let me just explain that your hippocampus is pretty important to things like memory, balance, things like that. So, studying effects on the hippocampus in animals is kind of a good way to anticipate effects that might develop on intelligence and other things.
Look at newborn rats after they had been exposed prenatally and compared those who were exposed to those who were not exposed. And they looked at their brain cells, the number of cells, shape, etc, with established methods for testing this.
And this article was published in brain research, which is a relatively high impact journal. And what they showed was that prenatally exposed newborns have basically fewer cells in the hippocampus.
Here’s the exposed missing some cells. And here are the controls, which they’re compared with. And you can see here that these cells are, there’s more of them. Here, they’re more scattered.
And in fact, they did another test of memory. And how do you test memory in an animal? You don’t have them fill out the crossword puzzle. You test memory in an animal with well-established protocols of learning. You teach them to run a maze and get a food reward.
You see how long it takes them to do that. And what they did is a radial arm maze. They trained these animals who were starving to get a food reward. Right?
And after they did that, they then saw how long did it take them to learn this if they had been prenatally exposed to mobile phone radiation. And what they found was that newborns that had been exposed took three times as long to find their way out of the experimental maze, and made twice as many errors. And this is again, it’s a statistically valid method for evaluation learning.
Now, closer to home, so to speak, between the brain and the testes, studies have been done here in Australia, at Newcastle by a fellow who’s now the Pro Chancellor of the University.
These studies have been done taking sperm from healthy men. And one test tube gets exposed to cell phone radiation and one test tube is not exposed to mobile phone radiation. And then the results are evaluated.
And this is a measure of vitality. We measure how well the sperm swim. This is a measure of mobility, motility. This is a measure of mitochondrial DNA damage. They have three times as much damage on their DNA if they have been exposed to mobile phone radiation as compared to controls.
The issue is why does it take a half a billion sperm to make just one healthy baby? It takes a lot of sperm to make a healthy baby. The answer is, because sperm don’t know how to ask for directions.
But they are easy to study. And this research has been done in India, in the United States at the Cleveland Clinic and around the world.
So many different studies have been done on sperm damage associated with mobile phone radiation, that in the seventh edition of the textbook “Biostatistics and medicine”, Stanton Glance concludes that the evidence linking mobile phone radiation to sperm damage is causal, meaning there clearly is a cause of damage to sperm from mobile phone radiation.
Now, we have a lot of uncertainties in this field. The truth is, we have a lot of uncertainties, but not about sperm. There, the evidence has become rather strong and it’s become clear. So clear that the Indian government has issued warnings about this.
Clinics that deal with reproductive problems are routinely advising young men to get those phones out of their pockets. Recognizing that this is a hidden hazard to healthy reproduction.
This is the data from the Cleveland Clinic, showing that men who keep cell phones in their pockets the longest have the lowest sperm count. And again, there are many other studies with similar results. So, we can debate legitimately the question of brain cancer. And I would welcome an open and honest debate about that question.
But when it comes to issues like this, there really is not much to debate. And it’s interesting that the research on this issue comes from people who are expert in male fertility, who started to treat men in infertility clinics and noticed that this was a major contributor to their fertility problems.
Now, experimental studies have been done also in India to confirm this kind of damage, not just looking at prenatal exposure or early life exposure, but taking middle aged rats, 70-day old male rat, that’s middle age for rat, and exposing them two hours a day for 45 days to a computer generated mobile phone signal.
Those results show lower testosterone, which is a very important hormone for a male. Men and women both have testosterone. Men just need a lot more of it. And also increases of DNA damage as measured by certain enzymes. And the offspring had lower fertility. And this is just to show you. This is a normal testes.
As you see, the boundaries, the cell wall looks very nice.
And this next one is after microwave radiation exposure.
So, there are some pretty stunning images that have been generated in the basic biology literature when it comes to these kinds of effects.
Now, the breast the breast is mostly fat, contains a lot of fluid. Things that contain fat and fluid cook faster in the microwave oven. Now, a cell phone can’t cook anything, right? Mobile phones do not pop popcorn. That was a fraud. They don’t make any heat that we know of, otherwise they wouldn’t be permitted. But they do go through things that contain fat and fluid.
And we are now working in environmental health trust with scientists at the University of California, San Francisco and Scientists at formerly the president of the American Cancer Society of California, because we are seeing women who keep cell phones in their bras. Has anyone seen a woman put a cell phone in her bra? Hands up, please.
Please tell women you’ve heard now why they shouldn’t do that.
And here I want to show you our first case report from 2009. And we now have many more. This was a Chinese American woman, a Chinese American woman who used her cell phone four hours a day in her bra for 10 years while she was driving.
Now, and you drive with a with a phone on your body, the phone is smart. It’s going to go from one tower to another, and it’s going to say, here I am. Where are you? Here I am. And it’s going to be going to max power each time it moves from one cell tower to another. And there it was right next to her chest. And the tumors that developed, developed right under the antenna of the phone. Unusual tumors?
Does it apply to males who would put the phone in their breast pocket? We actually have cases now of men with unusual skin cancers or unusual growth where they’ve kept their phone in one place. And again, if they were tested, phones would not be passing testing approval if they were to do that.
Male breast cancer is very rare, very, very rare, but we are seeing some reports of cases.
Unfortunately, this is an MRI of a young woman, very brave young woman named Tiffany Fraps. When she was 21- she’s now 22, she developed metastatic breast cancer. This is metastasized into her chest wall right here. And this outlines the phone. And it was subcutaneous, so it’s like right under the surface of the skin. It was not deep within the breast.
Most breast cancer occurs in women over 50. It occurs in the upper outer quadrant. These tumors occurred right under the antenna of the phone. And now, we have 38 of them. Not a single one of them has a family history. None of them has inherited the defects that we know increase the risk of breast cancer.
They have multi-focal tumors, that means they have more than one tumor, and the tumors are located under the antenna, sometimes just right in the center of the chest.
So, we’re collecting information, because that’s what we do in science. But we want to, in the meantime, issue precautionary advice. Because that’s also what we do in public health when it comes to setting public policy. When it comes to further work on the prenatal impacts, my colleagues at Yale University have taken mice, expose them to mobile phone radiation, and they have found significant effects on those mice’s behavior as adults, right?
Prenatally exposed mice have hyperactivity as adults. And these are some of the data. They have worst memory. They’re more hyperactive. They have more anxiety. But they don’t have much fear. It’s kind of interesting. And because of that, that is why we’ve developed the baby safe project, working with colleagues at Yale University and around the world.
Now, how many of you heard that in 2011, the World Health Organization had reviewed all of the evidence and decided that mobile phone radiation was a possible human carcinogen? How many people had heard that? Okay. It’s interesting that that information isn’t more widely known. And we can explore the reasons for that, perhaps at a later time.
But the fact is, the group that reviewed this evidence for the World Health Organization looked at all the evidence at the time in 2011. And at that time, they said it’s important to conduct additional research and it’s important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure.
Now, that’s why it’s wonderful that Telstra is giving this advice. But 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.
The Truth About Mobile Phone and Wireless Radiation Continues in Part 3.
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.