News for Thailand
|Cell phones and brain cancer: time to face up to the links|
|Thailand||Created: 19 Jun 2014|
A French study released last month that looks at the brain cancer risks associated with cellphone usage has once again ignited the long controversy about this new potential health hazard, which is linked to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) emitted by wireless devices.
Hand-held phone use has literally exploded over the past decade and has already reached 75 per cent of the world population. This is particularly true for Southeast Asia where Thailand already has more cell phone subscriptions than people living in the kingdom.
While the possible cancer-inducing effects of wireless technology should be considered a major public health concern, health agencies and medical associations still cite a "lack of scientific evidence" and continue, with some degree of complacency, to talk about mere "controversy". This sadly has resulted in a weak if not non-existent endorsement of preventive measures. But is it coherent and even ethical in 2014 to use the word "controversy" when the stakes involved are so high?
To address this question, four large studies on the brain cancer risk and cell phone usage need to be reviewed and every attempt made to come up with a clearer view of the current evidence. Today's article, the first in a two-part series, explores the issues related to brain cancer development and the effects of radiofrequency emission on the living cells in the body.
Brain tumours can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) but fortunately account for a small percentage of cancers afflicting humans. They can occur at all ages but older people aged around 60 to 65 are primarily affected. Although incidence is rare, children can also suffer from these tumours and these are usually diagnosed before the age of 10.
The main cancerous brain tumours in adults are called gliomas, which take their name from the glial cells in the brain, were the main tumours found in the cell phone studies. Other tumours discovered in the trials were benign and included acoustic neuromas (tumours on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain and which is responsible for hearing and balance) and meningiomas (benign growths that arise from the membranes surrounding the brain). Unless treatment is initiated early with surgery, the prognosis of brain cancer is often severe because these tumours spread quickly within the brain and to other organs.
Importantly, a long period of latency (period during which the cancer remains dormant) that lasts several decades precedes the full-blown cancer stage.
This long latency period is roughly similar to that in lung cancer development. Lung cancer is also known to rapidly spread when it reaches its full-blown stage, though the period of latency may last 25 to 30 years.
In 1900, before smoking became common, lung cancer was a rare disease. In the western world the epidemic of lung cancer started 20 to 25 years after cigarette smoking became widespread. Likewise, a young adult who starts smoking at 20 will not be at high risk of lung cancer he/she reaches 45 to 50 years or above.
In much the same way, scientists consider that the RF-EMF exposure does not lead to direct DNA damage as that caused by potent ionising radiation such as x-rays. However, radiofrequency radiation does induce energy under the form of heat, which is absorbed by tissues closest to the phone. In repeated exposure, this heating effect has been shown to release oxygen free radicals, which are unstable and deleterious chemicals involved in the inflammation processes and cancer development. The underlying mechanism for possible tumour-inducing effect linked to RF exposure on the tissues in close proximity (the brain and ear in the case of hand-held phones) is indirectly demonstrated by the production of these harmful substances.
The second part of this article will look at pros and cons of cell phone and antenna station exposure as well as prevention. It will be published on July 1.
Dr Gerard Lalande is managing director of CEO-HEALTH, which provides medical referrals for expatriates and customised executive medical check-ups in Thailand. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Click here to view the source article.|
|Source: The Nation, Dr Gerard Lalande, 17 Jun 2014|
|‘‘There is potential harm (from mobile phones) which is irreversible.’’|
|Thailand||Created: 1 Sep 2009|
Cellphones may be essential but the government should wise up to the technology’s potential health risks, writes Zoom Partager Imprimer Écouter Traduire
Top design, long-awaited new gadgets and tempting promotions — these are likely the things that dominate the public mind when it comes to talk on
mobile phones and similar wireless devices here.
Three girls try out mobile phones at a Bangkok shop, but a new International EMF Collaborative report says they could be risking their
health by doing so.
It is rare that the contentious global debate on whether long-term mobile phone use causes brain damage pops into the conversation.
Nor is it likely that research into the alleged potential health risks of mobile phone usage has ever been considered seriously by relevant local
agencies and lawmakers. Virtually every Thai is using the technology and there are some 58 million mobile phone numbers active in the country.
A group of local telecom experts and consumer advocates recently called on the government to take a serious look at the subject and to caution users,
especially under-18s, that there could be potential health risks from long-term use.
The move could be too alarming for a country trying to bridge the digital divide.
Despite being a hot topic of debate for more than a decade, globally speaking, the issue of possible health risks caused by microwave radiation
from mobile phones and transmitters has yet to be clarified.
Scientists, physicians and health experts from both sides of the debate continue to wrangle with each other but no consolidated scientific or
medical position has been formed.
For Thailand, Sumeth Vongpanidlerd, a renowned electrical engineer, believes it is better to be safe than sorry.
‘‘Cellphones became widely available only relatively recently, while tumours can take decades to develop,’’ he said.
‘‘Since we cannot live without the technology, do we have to wait for another 10, perhaps 20 years, for the scientific proof before we take
Dr Sumeth is a member of the Telecommunications Consumers Protection Institute, an arm of the National Telecommunications Commission.
Electromagnetic radiation, sometimes dubbed the potential ‘‘tobacco of the digital age’’, is at the centre of the debate. It is emitted from mobile
phone base stations and cellphone handsets. WiFi mini masts also emit the radiation.
Some independent studies have shown that long-term cellphone use, due to exposure to the radiation, increases the risk of brain tumours and damage to
DNA cells. The risk is believed to be higher for under-16s as their relatively thin skull allows the radiation to penetrate deeper into the
brain. But numerous other studies debunk such results saying there is no real risk from using the technology.
The World Health Organisation says currently available evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low-level
But the WHO does not rule out the possibility, saying some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and further research is needed.
On Aug 25, a group of international scientists released a new 37-page report, downloadable at www.radiationresearch.org, affirming the possibility
of a link between mobile phone use and brain tumours.
‘‘Cellphones and Brain Tumours, 15 Reasons for Concern, Science, Spin and the Truth Behind Interphone,’’ says research shows that electromagnetic
radiation causes genetic damage to human blood that has been exposed to the radiofrequency transmitted by mobile phones.
Endorsed by scientists and non-profit organisations, such as the Radiation Research Trust and Britain-based Powerwatch, the report says 10 years of
mobile phone use increases the risk of brain tumours by 280%. For teenagers and younger groups, the level could be as high as 420%.
‘‘The danger of brain tumours from cellphone use is highest in children, and the younger a child is when he/she starts using a cellphone, the higher the
risk,’’ the reports says.
The report was released ahead of the expected publication of the long-awaited, large-scale Interphone study, led by an arm of the WHO, which
began in 1999.
It alleges that the Interphone study is flawed in such a way that it could produce questionable results. Like other studies which say there are no
health risks from the technology it has been funded by the mobile phone industry.
The report indicates that parts of the industry seems to recognise there
could be potential health risks. A number of cellphone user manuals — from Apple iPhone, Nokia, Motorola and Blackberry — advise users to keep their
phone between 15mm to 2.5cm from their body to prevent possibly damaging their health .
The report advises the use of wired headsets or the speaker-phone mode to mitigate the risks.
Dr Sumeth said Thailand should adopt precautionary principles, such as those used by France, Canada and Russia, which implement certain regulations to at least keep people informed about the potential health risk.
‘‘For example, the state should inform users that they keep their use of mobile phones or WiFi devices at a minimum,’’ Dr Sumeth said.
Whenever possible, he said, people should use either fixed-line phones or wired internet services.
Parents and schools should be advised to prevent children from unnecessarily using the technology.
People spending considerable time near mobile phone antennas and WiFi mini masts could also face the same health risk, and this needs attention from
both the state and the industry, Dr Sumeth said.
‘‘The concrete evidence and statistics should be enough to raise awareness,’’ Dr Sumeth said.
‘‘There is potential harm (from mobile phones) which is irreversible.’’
Bangkok Post 29 Aug 2009
|Click here to view the source article.|