Row over cancer risk of mobiles
BY: ADAM CRESSWELL From: The Australian December 30, 2011 12:00AM
AUSTRALIAN brain surgeon Charlie Teo is one of 16 world experts who have accused a global newspaper of publishing “technical errors and misleading statements” in an article that rubbished the idea mobile phones cause cancer.
In an open letter, the experts, who work in Europe, the US and Australia and have qualifications in fields such as cancer medicine, public health, statistics and electromagnetism, said the article published in The Economist “fails to provide critical information about this important public health challenge”, and demanded that the journal print a correction.
The experts wrote that history was “replete with failures to control highly profitable carcinogenic substances, ranging from tobacco to asbestos, until proof of harm became irrefutable”, and suggested on a conservative analysis that mobile phones and other wireless radiation might be seeding 250,000 avoidable brain tumours every year.
The document was released in riposte to an article published in the British-based Economist in September that ridiculed those who believe mobile phones are harming people as a “tinfoil-hat brigade” who continue to believe “deadly waves in the ether are frying their brains”.
The Economist article implied that because radiowaves, microwaves and radiation from mobile phones and other devices was “non-ionising” radiation that lacked the energy to knock electrons out of atoms there was no plausible mechanism by which such radiation could trigger cancer.
The 16 co-authors replied that independent studies had shown mobile phone emissions could damage genetic material, increase the production of DNA-damaging free radicals, and affect the heart, brain, liver and hormone production.
In May, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer upgraded its warning on mobile phone emissions to “possibly carcinogenic”, which The Economist said put them in the same category as coffee and false teeth, but which the 16 experts say is also the same as for DDT, engine exhausts and fluorinated flame retardants.