High levels of cellphone radiation linked to tumors in male rats: U.S. study

UNTV News   •   February 5, 2018   •   1882

A woman uses her cell phones in Manhattan, New York, U.S., January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

(Reuters) – Male rats exposed to very high levels of the kind of radiation emitted by cellphones developed tumors in the tissues around their hearts, according to a draft report by U.S. government researchers on the potential health risks of the devices.

Female rats and mice exposed in the same way did not develop tumors, according to the preliminary report from the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), a part of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The findings add to years of research meant to help settle the debate over whether cellphone radiation is harmful.

Although intriguing, the findings can not be extrapolated to humans, NTP scientists and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday. They noted that the animal studies were meant to test extreme exposures to cell phone radiation, and that current safety limits on cellphone radiation are protective.

However, the two 10-year, $25 million studies – the most comprehensive assessments of health effects and exposure to radiofrequency radiation in rats and mice to date – do raise new questions about exposure to the ubiquitous devices.

In the studies, about 6 percent of male rats whose entire bodies were exposed to the highest level of cell phone radiation developed schwannomas – a rare type of tumor – in nerve tissue near their hearts, while there were no schwannomas in animals that were not exposed to radiation.

“The intriguing part of this is the kind of tumors we saw were similar to tumors noted for quite some time in some epidemiological studies in heavy duty cellphone users,” John Bucher, a senior scientist with NTP, said in a telephone interview.

“Of course, these were in the nerves in the ear and next to the brain, but the tumor types were the same as we saw in the heart.”

Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, noted that the studies were negative for common tumors.

“These draft reports are bound to create a lot of concern, but in fact they won’t change what I tell people: the evidence for an association between cellphones and cancer is weak, and so far, we have not seen a higher cancer risk in people,” he said in a statement on Twitter.

Brawley said if cellphone users are concerned about this data in animals they should wear an earpiece.

Unlike ionizing radiation such as that from gamma rays, radon and X-rays, which can break chemical bonds in the body and are known to cause cancer, radiofrequency devices such as cellphones and microwaves emit radiofrequency energy, a form of non-ionizing radiation.

The concern with this type of radiation is that it produces energy in the form of heat, and frequent exposure against the skin could alter brain cell activity, as some studies have suggested.

In the NTP study, rats and mice were exposed to higher levels of radiation for longer periods of time than what people experience with even the highest level of cellphone use, and their entire bodies were exposed all at once, according to the draft report.

Bucher said the effect likely only showed up in the male rats because they were larger, and likely absorbed more radiation than the female rats or mice.

Cellphones typically emit lower levels of radiation than maximum levels allowed, the draft report said.

Cellphone radiation quickly dissipates, so the risk, if any, would be to areas of the body in close proximity to the device emitting the radiation, Bucher said.

He said the findings are intended to help inform the design of future cell phone technologies. The study looked at only 2G and 3G frequencies, which are still commonly used for phone calls. It does not apply to 4G or 5G, which use different frequencies and modulation, he said.

NTP, a part of the National Institutes of Health, will hold an external expert review of its findings on March 26-28.

Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, head of the FDA’s radiological health division, said there is not enough evidence to say cellphone use poses health risks to people.

“Even with frequent daily use by the vast majority of adults, we have not seen an increase in events like brain tumors,” he said in a statement. “We believe the current safety limits for cellphones are acceptable for protecting the public health.”

Asked what the public should take from the study, Bucher said, “I wouldn’t change my behavior based on these studies, and I haven‘t.”

Nevertheless, the findings are potentially a concern for device makers, especially the world’s three biggest smartphone sellers, Apple Inc, Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and China’s Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL].

The CTIA, the trade association representing AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc, Apple Inc, Sprint Corp, DISH Network Corp, and others, said on Friday that previous studies have shown cellphone RF energy emissions have no known heath risks.

”We understand that the NTP draft reports for its mice and rat studies will be put out for comment and peer review so that their significance can be assessed,” the group said.

Samsung and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Bill Berkrot and Caroline Humer in New York, David Shepardson in Washington and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Susan Thomas and Diane Craft

Miscarriage rates triple for women with top radiation exposures

UNTV News   •   December 21, 2017

A child touches her pregnant mother’s stomach at the last stages of her pregnancy in Bordeaux April 28, 2010. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

(Reuters Health) – Pregnant women exposed to high radiation levels from sources like cell phones, wireless devices and cell towers miscarried at nearly three times the rate as those exposed to low levels, according to new research.

“I hope this study makes us rethink the notion that magnetic field non-ionizing radiation exposure is safe or has no health risk,” said lead author Dr. De-Kun Li, a senior research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California. “This is certainly something we can’t just ignore.”

Cell phones, cordless phones and other wireless devices, appliances, power lines, smart-meter networks and cell towers generate non-ionizing radiation from magnetic fields. Writing in Scientific Reports, Li and his team call rapidly proliferating electromagnetic field emissions “a ubiquitous environmental exposure and a serious looming public health challenge.”

For the study, more than 900 pregnant women in the San Francisco area carried meters that measured their exposure to electromagnetic field radiation for 24 hours. After accounting for age, race, education and smoking, expectant mothers with the highest exposure levels during their typical weekday routines were 2.7 times as likely to miscarry as women with the lowest levels.

Researchers could not determine the emission sources of the radiation. But they write that traditional sources, such as power lines and appliances, generate low-frequency magnetic fields, while emerging sources, such as cell phones and smart-meter networks, generate higher frequencies.

The results underscore the need for additional research into possible health harms of a technology to which virtually everyone in the U.S. is now exposed, whether by choice or circumstance, Li said.

“We really want people to start rethinking the assumption that magnetic-field exposure is safe,” he said in a phone interview. “We really, really need more research because everybody is exposed, including the genetically vulnerable and fetuses.”

Olga V. Naidenko, a senior science advisor with the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C. who was not involved with the study, described the findings as “very compelling” and “very alarming.”

Like Li, she called for more research into the biological effects of electromagnetic radiation.

“We need a better understanding about what sources of non-ionizing radiation around the house most contribute to health risk, so that families – and everyone – have the necessary information to protect their health,” she said in an email.

In the meantime, she advises children and adults, especially pregnant women, to decrease exposure to electromagnetic radiation by keeping cell phones and other wireless devices away from their bodies.

“If someone is really concerned, distance is their friend,” Li said. “Keep away from the source. You don’t have to stand right next to the microwave. There’s nothing to watch anyway.”

Li said Kaiser, an integrated healthcare delivery system whose members comprise nearly one-third of the residents in its Northern California catchment area, would not issue a warning to pregnant women about electromagnetic radiation. But the California Department of Public Health did issue guidance last week that long-term use of cell phones could pose health harms.

“Although the science is still evolving, there are concerns among some public health professionals and members of the public regarding long-term, high use exposure to the energy emitted by cell phones,” Dr. Karen Smith, California’s public health officer, said in a written statement.

“We know that simple steps, such as not keeping your phone in your pocket and moving it away from your bed at night, can help reduce exposure for both children and adults,” she said.

Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved with the new study, said it builds on previous research, which found that electromagnetic exposure during pregnancy increased the risk of miscarriage.

“Pregnant women and couples trying to conceive children should minimize their exposure to the electromagnetic fields produced by household appliances and wireless devices, including cell phones,” he said by email.

Previous studies have linked radiation from long-term cell phone use to an increased risk of brain cancer and lower sperm counts, Naidenko said.

A federal study last year found an increased risk of cancer associated with magnetic field non-ionizing radiation exposure in rodents. Li called the findings from the National Toxicology Program “stunningly important.”

“They found the exact cell type of tumor observed in humans. To me, it’s very strong evidence it might be the same,” he said.

“We are never going to say we’re going to take away your device,” he said. “Engineers are going to figure out a way to use the device in a safe way. But if we bury our heads in the sand, that’s a travesty.”

Are nail salon UV lamps a skin cancer risk?

admin   •   May 2, 2014

Nail polish bottles are seen before the Kate Spade Spring/Summer 2014 collection presentation during New York Fashion Week September 6, 2013. (ERIC THAYER / Reuters )

(Reuters Health) – The ultraviolet lamps used in some nail salons to dry and cure nail polish deliver the same hazardous rays as tanning beds, but it would take many manicures to actually cause damage, suggests a new study.

After testing 17 different lamps in nail salons, researchers calculated that it would take between eight and 208 visits – depending on the machine – to damage skin cells in a way that raises cancer risk.

“I wouldn’t tell a patient to stop going unless they were going multiple times a month,” lead author Dr. Lyndsay Shipp from Georgia Regents University in Augusta told Reuters Health.

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a risk factor for most skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Natural sunlight and UV lamps used for tanning give off the harmful rays, as do the small lamps used to speed drying in nail salons.

Previous studies have looked at the polish-drying UV lamps and suggested the rays may be powerful enough to cause damage, Shipp’s team notes in JAMA Dermatology, but those studies had flaws.

“They didn’t actually go out and measure the nail lamps themselves and measure the UV radiation they’re exposed to,” Shipp said.

For the new study, the researchers measured the UV-A rays produced by 17 different nail polish drying devices at 16 salons.

UV-A is one of three types of UV ray. It ages the skin to cause wrinkles and breaks DNA strands within skin cells, which can lead to cancer.

The lamps tested by the researchers differed in their power levels, but generally UV lamps with higher wattages put out higher levels of UV-A radiation.

Based on a calculation of how much UV-A radiation exposure is needed to damage DNA, the researchers found that it would take – on average – 11 uses for the devices to deliver enough UV-A to raise cancer risk.

They estimated that hands would be in the device for about eight minutes per manicure, and the risky total exposure times ranged from eight minutes to 208 minutes, depending on the machine.

Although the risk is low, Shipp’s team endorsed the idea of wearing sunscreen to protect hands from UV damage.

Dr. Alina Markova, who was not involved in the new study, told Reuters Health it’s also important to note that DNA damage doesn’t mean the person will develop cancer.

“Just one risk factor of DNA damage doesn’t mean you’ll have a clinical outcome of skin cancer or photoaging,” she said.

Markova, who works within the Boston University Department of Dermatology, has studied the UV rays put off by nail salon lamps.

“While we’re starting to realize these UV nail lamps are relatively safe, we still need to realize that the artificial UV devices that are hazardous are tanning beds,” she said.

The World Health Organization (WHO), the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Dermatology have come out against indoor tanning in recent years.

In 2009, WHO labeled tanning devices as high-level carcinogens, which puts tanning on par with tobacco use as a public health threat.

Shipp said doctors can’t say anything is perfectly safe, but nail salon lamps seem relatively safe.

“Personally, I won’t stop getting manicures myself,” she said.

SOURCE: bit,ly/WjBo5P JAMA Dermatology, online April 30, 2014.

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