On Thu, 25 Sep 2008 15:19:18 -0400, Gregory Weston <email@example.com>
>The number is how long it takes brain cancer to manifest from the onset
>of cell mutation. Typically, as I noted below, you're looking at
>decades. Plural. And susceptibility seems to be dependent on age. So
>let's look at the incidence today of brain cancer in people who were
>routinely using cell phones at age 10, 20-25 years ago.
Finally, someone that knows how it works. I agree. Cancer takes a
long time to manifest itself after exposure. In the late 1960's, I
worked in a PCB shop. We washed our hands with various solvents such
as carbon tetrachloride, trichloroethane and trichloroethylene which
now have an R45 (may cause cancer) risk. Two of my former co-workers
now have liver problems (not cancer) directly traceable to this
exposure. I've been lucky and missed liver damage, although I've had
other problems that may be due to toxic exposure. That was 40 years
ago. Had I known, I would have avoided contact, but since the victims
took 40 years to appear, we considered chlorinated hydrocarbon
solvents to be safe.
So, what should we have done different? My answer is nothing
different. We take our chances and live with the results. Had we
eliminated chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents from the list of available
chemicals, at the time, there was no acceptable substitute. The PCB
business would have stopped dead in its tracks. Same with the hybrid
circuit business, brake cleaner, and even fire extinguishers. I think
it was 20 years after mass introduction of these solvents before
anyone correlated liver damage and cancer risk to their use. What
little research I've done on liver damage shows that the risk is
moderate (1 part in 1,000 for those exposed). As a result of surveys,
some minimal controls have been applied to their use, but they're
still with us today. You can buy them at the hardware store by the
pint, quart, or gallon.
I suspect cell phone exposure works the same way. There's a fairly
low probability of seeing any physical effects within perhaps 20
years. Unlike chemical exposure, it will be difficult to both measure
and estimate the actual exposure amounts or areas of exposure. I have
no doubt there will be litigation based upon such cancer incidence.
However, what I do NOT expect to see is a rise in new cancer cases
that can be traced back to cell phone exposure. Some childhood cancer
you drill down to statistics for new incidents based on age and cancer
site, you'll find that some cancers are on the increase, while others
(such as brain and CNS cancers) are on the decline. There are also
numbers of various age groups. It's really difficult to write a sane
conclusion from the data, but basically, new incidents are rising
slightly with no obvious pattern that can be associated with cell
>How many data points are you going to find? Not enough to make any kind
Agreed. Yet, we have to make technology and exposure decisions based
on limited data. It's always been that way, and will continue
forever. There's NEVER really enough data to draw anything better
than a probabilistic conclusion.
>By asserting that we've had "commodity cell phones for 20 years" you're
>suggesting we've got meaningful data. We don't. The data would just be
>starting to come in now, and they'd be fairly sparse and relevant to a
>completely different demographic and usage pattern than we're looking at
>today. A 40-year-old making a couple of short, urgent calls per day is
>not a 12-year-old with the phone up to their head for an hour at a
I bed to differ slightly. We do have statistics for the total
population usage of cell phone minutes. If there were a delayed
correlation with new cancer incidence, it would be the stats for total
minutes, not total handsets that would be the indicator.
Incidentally, the prevalence of older users that have dumped their
POTS phone lines and gone with cellular only service, will probably
balance any increase in usage by 12 year olds.
The CTIA has numbers on usage and handsets:
I'll see if I can find some pretty graphs that are easier to digest.
>True. So doesn't it seem irresponsible to declare today, when meaningful
>data should just start to be becoming available, to just wave away the
>concerns without a second thought?
Good point. It really depends on how tolerant I am of technological
mistakes. I'm very much more tolerant than most and prepared to deal
with some long term side effects. However, someone that has a family
member with toxic exposure symptoms or other delayed effects might
think differently. I don't have an answer for this question that will
apply to everyone. Also, I certainly don't dismiss such concerns, but
I also don't let them run my life.
>In all seriousness, given the topics at hand, probably another
>generation before we *really* see whether there's likely to be an
If there is an effect, that's true. However, if there's no obvious
correlation, there will be another generation of paranoids that
suggest that the effect skips a generation and that we should wait for
another generation. This could easily continue forever.
This kinda reminds me of AGW (global warming) where the same people
that can't successfully predict tomorrows weather are asking us to
believe their prediction for 100 years from now.
>Let's look 20-25 years from now at the people who are 30-40
>then. That's when we'll have meaningful data about heavy, long-term cell
Yeah, that might work. The problem is that we're living longer and
therefore experiencing more geriatric diseases. We will see
incidences of cancers in older cell phone users that are present
simply because they didn't drop dead earlier from some previously
>Again, I'm not saying cell phones *are* dangerous. I'm just saying it's
>premature to claim they aren't. Realistically we don't have significant
>data arguing either point today.
Maybe. Are cell phone and other "dangerous" products considered safe
until proven dangerous, or are they dangerous until proven safe? It
really depends on your point of view and personal agenda. My opinion
is that absolutely nothing can be proven absolutely safe. Therefore,
cell phones will always be suspected of causing unspecific diseases.
Methinks we will do better by assuming that cell phones are safe,
until proven otherwise. So far, I've seen lots of interesting
research projects, some not so interesting speculation, but no
statistically significant proof.
>And some won't even think about it. Especially when there are people
>going around claiming that it's safe because they haven't seen an impact
>yet, ignoring the fact that you wouldn't be likely to see the impact yet.
Touche. I can't argue against a circular argument. I'm not prepared
to think for the GUM (great unwashed masses). That's what education,
signed disclaimers, and warning labels are all about. How about
labeling the box:
"Warning: Opening this box indicates that the user recognizes that
cell phones have not been proven 100.0% safe and may cause delayed
health problems. See URL for additional details".
>People used to think asbestos was safe, too. Tricky thing when the
>problems can take 40 years or more to manifest. And sure, if you're 60,
>or 45 or maybe even 30, perhaps you don't care about something that
>*might* be a problem in 40 years. That's reasonable. It's safe for you
>because you're not expecting to hang around long enough for it to have
>an impact regardless. But do you risk your 8-year-old child/grandchild?
Yeah, I guess that makes me a selfish self-serving non-caring
individual. Of course I care about future generations. However,
which legacy would you prefer to pass on to your grand-brats? A
cellular based communications infrastructure that enhances lifestyles
and may well become a necessity for modern living? Or, a wholesale
ban on RF emitting devices based upon speculation and conjecture?
Jeff Liebermann firstname.lastname@example.org
150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558