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Cellphones Communications Medicine

10-Year Cell Phone / Cancer Study Is Inconclusive 248

crimeandpunishment writes "A major international (retrospective) study into cell phones and cancer, which took 10 years and surveyed almost 13,000 people, is finally complete — and it's inconclusive. The lead researcher said, 'There are indications of a possible increase. We're not sure that it is correct. It could be due to bias, but the indications are sufficiently strong ... to be concerned.' The study, conducted by the World Health Organization and partially funded by the cellphone industry, looked at the possible link between cell phone use and two types of brain cancer. It will be published this week."
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10-Year Cell Phone / Cancer Study Is Inconclusive

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  • easy (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @05:36PM (#32230254)

    in the given (not yet proven) chance that cellphones do give cancer, why not purchase a wired hands-free headset and be done with it?


  • Re:It's all relative (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bjourne ( 1034822 ) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @05:46PM (#32230344) Homepage Journal
    And some stress could certainly be caused by cellphone usage. Not that I'm disagreing with you. Creating fair studies that takes into effect all independent variables is hard.
  • Re:USA Today (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @05:58PM (#32230448)

    Results for some groups showed cellphone use actually appeared to lessen the risk of developing cancers, something the researchers described as "implausible."

    People with UNDIAGNOSED very early stage brain cancer might have problems functioning in society, equals less likelihood of cell phone ownership. Not implausible at all.

  • Re:It's all relative (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @06:02PM (#32230482)
    The problem with "stress" is that it is hard to define. For some people, yes, cell phones could cause stress, for others such as me cell phones probably reduce stress by keeping me connected. If something major happens I'm easily notified via cell phone or can notify others. What causes stress for some people might not cause stress for others. For example I tend to get stressed out when things don't arrive quickly, mailed test scores for standardized tests used to stress me out much more than the test generally did because there was uncertainty and delayed consequences. So while some people might be stressed out because of constant access to information there are others who stress out a lot more because of lack of information.
  • by uglyduckling ( 103926 ) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @06:21PM (#32230654) Homepage

    Actually, it kind of does. If you have a null hypothesis "there is no link between cellphone use and brain cancer" then an inconclusive result would fail to disprove the null hypothesis and therefore affirm it. This is based on choosing a null hypothesis that is based on the sensible default position, which in this study is fine as long as you're the kind of person who is willing/capable of understanding that we are constantly bathed in all sorts of EM radiation of which cellphones only play a small part and that the default position from a conventional understanding of physics is that they're likely to be harmless.

    It's also based on the idea that, for a risk factor for cancer(s) significant enough to be worth worrying about, we would expect to see an obvious and conclusive result. For instance, when testing the null hypothesis "there is no like between smoking and lung cancer", the observed data would overwhelmingly reject the null hypothesis. The reality is that there's all sorts of things [] that people think cause cancer, and many of them may do (e.g. drinking hot drinks regularly is linked with oral cancer) but most of the risk factors aren't significant to be worth worrying about.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @06:38PM (#32230778)

    Really, what does it matter if cellphones cause cancer or not?

    Modern society is pretty dependant on everyone being part of the information loop and being available all the time. Yeah, we were able to survive long before this happened - just like we were able to survive long before computers - but it would be practically impossible to return to how things were (just like it would be practically impossible to return to the time before computers and TV). Hell, we can't completely rid the society of smoking, etc. though they have little to no positive sides. How in world could we ever make people stop using cellphones? Devices which are very useful. Even if we found out that they increase the chances of cancer by a large amount, it would probably still be orders of magnitude easier to go after less useful things that still cause more health problems.

    I'm not saying that this shouldn't be researched. I'm all for us finding out more about human body, etc... And perhaps this could be useful some way (if the current technology is found unhealthy, perhaps we could put more resources into researching alternatives that would offer the same functionality with lower health risks, for example. And those technologies could become useful in unforeseeable ways, too.). It also allows people to make more educated decisions (such as parents deciding whether to wait one more year before buying their child a cellphone, etc.) But even so... Whenever I see news about studies that concern cancer and cellphones I can't help but think "So what? It's not as if we were gonna go back to the time before cellphones even if they do cause cancer..."

  • Re:Limited study (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mmarlett ( 520340 ) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @06:57PM (#32230952)

    I mean that if cell phones cause cancer, you would expect the rate of cancer to raise along with the use of cell phones. Instead, cancer rates have fallen or stayed the same for 20 years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @09:17PM (#32231868)

    I don't care what they found or didn't found - I'm still not buying a god damned radiating device to hold up beside my head.

    Then I sure hope you stay out of direct sunlight.

  • Re:It's all relative (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jeff4747 ( 256583 ) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @11:14PM (#32232780)

    Perhaps, because people aren't tethered to the desk phone, when they take calls at a desk, they push away or are more likely to walk around. If the CRT radiation has a greater effect than the cell phone radiation, then you'll find a result that correlates cell phone usage with lowered cancer, even though cell phones cause cancer.

    It's fairly safe to say that heavy cell phone users are such because they don't work at a desk - that's why they're always on the damn cell phone instead of their desk phone.

    While you've created a masking effect, there is still a correlation that you should have measured. The cell phone users, despite their lower CRT exposure, would show a correlation vs. non-cell phone, non-CRT users.

    But, that you can't think of even one possible solution to the question you asked means you are too narrow minded or too stupid to worry about. I'm just posting this for those that have reasoning skills left.

    No, you're just attacking me because I asked a question you can't answer well.

    So once again, how can you have causation without correlation? You claimed there's trillions of examples, so you can come up with one that's not nearly as lame.

  • Re:Limited study (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oiron ( 697563 ) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @11:41PM (#32233014) Homepage

    It could still be a general drop in cancer rates, but a specific rise in the rates for people who use cellphones (in certain conditions, given that pretty much everyone uses them these days?). Looking at simple numbers like that is inconclusive

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson