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World's Largest Animal Study On Cell Tower Radiation Confirms Cancer Link (digitaljournal.com) 242

capedgirardeau shares a report from Digital Journal: Researchers with the renowned Ramazzini Institute (RI) in Italy announce that a large-scale, lifetime study (PDF) of lab animals exposed to environmental levels of cell tower radiation developed cancer. The RI study also found increases in malignant brain (glial) tumors in female rats and precancerous conditions including Schwann cells hyperplasia in both male and female rats. A study of much higher levels of cell phone radiofrequency (RF) radiation, from the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), has also reported finding the same unusual cancer called Schwannoma of the heart in male rats treated at the highest dose.

The Ramazzini study exposed 2448 Sprague-Dawley rats from prenatal life until their natural death to "environmental" cell tower radiation for 19 hours per day (1.8 GHz GSM radiofrequency radiation (RFR) of 5, 25 and 50 V/m). RI exposures mimicked base station emissions like those from cell tower antennas, and exposure levels were far less than those used in the NTP studies of cell phone radiation. "All of the exposures used in the Ramazzini study were below the U.S. FCC limits. These are permissible exposures according the FCC. In other words, a person can legally be exposed to this level of radiation. Yet cancers occurred in these animals at these legally permitted levels. The Ramazzini findings are consistent with the NTP study demonstrating these effects are a reproducible finding," explained Ronald Melnick PhD, formerly the Senior NIH toxicologist who led the design of the NTP study on cell phone radiation now a Senior Science Advisor to Environmental Health Trust (EHT). "Governments need to strengthen regulations to protect the public from these harmful non-thermal exposures."

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World's Largest Animal Study On Cell Tower Radiation Confirms Cancer Link

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  • Seriously (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 22, 2018 @11:42PM (#56310569)

    When did slashdot start posting bullshit unscientific studies.

  • Look at the results (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @11:50PM (#56310597)

    It’s like 2 out of 200 rats got cancer in the control group and 4 in the exposure group. But rates of cancer don’t seem to increase with amount of exposure.

    Can someone familiar with these methodologies explain the criteria for statistical significance of these numbers?

    What is the hypothetical mechanism for low-level non-ionizing radiation to cause tumors?

    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday March 23, 2018 @12:24AM (#56310703) Journal
      Here is the data on brain cancer [imgur.com]. Here is their data on heart cancer [imgur.com]. I see no correlation in this data (but someone with a better statistics skill than me might be able to explain it to me). What I see is that if you divide your data into enough groups, one of the groups is likely to show a correlation (this is the relevant explanation [xkcd.com])
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 23, 2018 @12:27AM (#56310719)

        It’s called P-hacking [fivethirtyeight.com].

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I love it how they use a 0.05 p-value for groups of size in the hundreds, with a "detected" non-null probability of about 1%. This is a joke, there's no statistical difference between the distributions of the control and the other groups in their data. What happened, the "paper" did not pass peer review in a serious journal and they tried disseminating it online?

    • by locater16 ( 2326718 ) on Friday March 23, 2018 @12:37AM (#56310741)
      So the dosage does seem uncorrelated to cancer cells, which is odd. But according to this study then mice in the wild should have a lot more cancer over time, and humans should be getting more brain cancer over time. Neither has happened. In fact incidences of brain cancer have gone down between 1992 and 2014 https://seer.cancer.gov/statfa... [cancer.gov] . Even if this study is correct, which seems dubious already, you'd be looking at a doubling from 0.6 percent chance to 1.2 percent chance over your life time at most.
    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      "What is the hypothetical mechanism for low-level non-ionizing radiation to cause tumors?"

      You're confusing cause and effect. The cell phone towers are attracting researchers with bad methodology and poor statistical skills via a well known profit mechanism.
    • Maybe the rats that live by the cell tower like to go up there for a smoke.
    • Can someone familiar with these methodologies explain the criteria for statistical significance of these numbers?

      Basically it's big enough to have a p value [wikipedia.org] greater than 0.05 which implies statistical significance. But this doesn't mean much. Obligatory XKCD [xkcd.com].

      What is the hypothetical mechanism for low-level non-ionizing radiation to cause tumors?

      They don't know and that is why nobody should get excited about this. Weird correlations happen all the time between unrelated events. Until they can show a causal mechanism for the cancer then the only conclusion you can draw from this research is that more research is warranted.

    • It proves something else what I have been suspecting for a long time. I know it will be controversial, but the facts are in : Medical research causes cancer in rats.

    • Can someone familiar with these methodologies explain the criteria for statistical significance of these numbers?

      There really isn't. Their significance level is 5% but they had more than 20 conditions, so you would expect one or more to be accidentally significant just by chance, even given the (already poor) internal logic of these measures. The state of statistics in experimental sciences is really rather poor and there is a replication crisis [wikipedia.org].

      What is the hypothetical mechanism for low-level non-ionizing

  • Fake News... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Thursday March 22, 2018 @11:52PM (#56310603) Homepage

    If you trace it back, you find that:

    1) This is a press release that was picked up by a minor news service, then picked up by other news services.

    2) The original source is a web sight: https://ehtrust.org/ [ehtrust.org] if you go to the About page, you see that website is headed by someone with a new book out. Guess what the book is about...

    3) Yes, the book is about power lines causing cancer. Funny how the same person that has already published a book about something that has been thoroughly discredited is now claiming a study proves her right.

    4) The websight mentions no other person except their own 'head', but mentions her several times. It has two addresses listed, one of which is a po box in Wyoming, the other is a home in Wyoming. No office.

    5) She is a real doctor, but is famous for this EMF controversy.

    In other words, the study is not to be trusted, and the news release is fake news, at least until a real news agency can thoroughly check something rather than just accept the word of someone that already has a reputation for accepting junk science

    • Re:Fake News... (Score:4, Informative)

      by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday March 23, 2018 @12:00AM (#56310643) Homepage Journal

      If you trace it back, you find that the NIH is not a wholly-owned subsiduary of someone with a book. Sorry, whilst the replication study may have flaws, you haven't shown one in the NIH study, which is the peer-reviewed one.

      • Re:Fake News... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 23, 2018 @12:24AM (#56310709)

        The only thing I can see referencing the NIH is the link in:

        A study of much higher levels of cell phone radiofrequency (RF) radiation, from the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) [nih.gov], has also reported finding the same unusual cancer called Schwannoma of the heart in male rats treated at the highest dose.

        You'll note the important point in the quote there: "much higher levels of cell phone radiofrequency (RF) radiation"; ie, not environmental levels.

      • My post was titled fake news, not fake study. I did not bother to attack the study because when a crazy man literally wearing tin foil on his head hands you a paper, only a moron attempts to refute him. For all you know everything printed on it is a lie, as in the study did not happen, or was performed by the Neurotic Idiots of Humanity, rather than the National Institute of Health.

        In this particular case, I highly suspect that the study was true but the results were being heavily misinterpreted.

        Not all

      • Sorry, whilst the replication study may have flaws

        Such as not being a replication study.

    • 1) This is a press release that was picked up by a minor news service, then picked up by other news services. ... In other words, the study is not to be trusted, and the news release is fake news, at least until a real news agency can thoroughly check something rather than just accept the word of someone that already has a reputation for accepting junk science

      The press release refers to a peer reviewed paper in a reasonably reputable journal:

      Falcioni, L., et al. "Report of final results regarding brain and

  • Now I have to wrap my house in foil, and put on my foil hat and cup again? Make up your minds.

  • Click Bait (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Read the darn paper. There's barely a statistical link in male rats at the highest dosage. For everything else there no statistical difference than control.

    I'd hardly call this confirming a link.

  • No, no it didn't (Score:5, Informative)

    by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Friday March 23, 2018 @12:25AM (#56310713)

    I'm calling bullshit: the study did absolutely no such thing. In fact, I'm just going to link to a screenshot of their results [imgur.com] (can't link to the actual study as it's behind a paywall). First, a couple of things to note: while their underlying population is large, the number of cases of tumors and lesions is tiny, so any results are going to be highly subject to statistical fluctuations (if the rate for a rare disease is 1/1000, a sample of 1000 people could easily still have 2-4 people with the disease, or none, just by chance). Secondly, there is little or no correlation between exposure and tumors (I'm not actually going to try to fit a line, but by eye the correlation is not great: in some cases the control groups showed a higher rate than the exposure). Third, they subdivided by male/female into separate groups. While there's some justification for doing that, what it means is that they've essentially doubled the number of studies they're conduction (actually kinda tripled, since they take male+female as another group, but that's not independent, so it's a bit more complicated than that), so finding something statistically significant (by chance) is twice as likely. In fact, given they made tests for 4 different conditions, with 3 different exposures, all divided into 2+ groups, they essentially made 24 tests. If you set your statistical significance at 0.05, you'd expect\* (by chance) 1.2 statistically significant results. They found one.

    \*I'm simplifying here, it's more precise to say that if you conducted an infinite number of identical studies the average one would produce 1.2 "statistically significant" (p less than 0.05) results by pure chance.

    • From the abstract:
      Results: A statistically significant increase in the incidence of heart Schwannomas was observed in treated male rats at the highest dose (50 V/m). Furthermore, an increase in the incidence of heart Schwann cells hyperplasia was observed in treated male and female rats at the highest dose (50 V/m), although this was not statistically significant. An increase in the incidence of malignant glial tumors was observed in treated female rats at the highest dose (50 V/m), although not statistical

    • Re:No, no it didn't (Score:5, Informative)

      by macklin01 ( 760841 ) on Friday March 23, 2018 @01:14AM (#56310857) Homepage

      You're exactly right.

      I took a brief look through the paper. Table 3, glia (rightmost columns) seems to sum up this study nicely. Control group had 817 mice, 3 malignant brain tumors. Highest dose had 409 mice, 3 with malignant brain tumors. Not a significant difference in this entire table at any dose in any sub-population, even at p = 0.05 levels.

      Table 2 focused on schwannomas, and they had to dig deep to male mice at highest exposure (n = 207) to get a significantly significant (at p = 0.05) difference. We're talking 3 / 207 male mice with malignant schwannomas at highest exposure. The control males had no cases (n = 412), but we're really in the weeds here where a stochastic variation of +/- 1 mouse makes a huge difference in their tallies. No other significant difference in any other dose in any other sub-population in any other table in this paper.

      Kaplan-Meier survival curves (Figure 3 g-h) look just about identical for all doses: we're not seeing a big difference in survival times at any doses. And there's no effort to estimate error bars for those curves. That's a hint about (lack of) replicates.

      From what I can see, there was exactly one replicate for each group / arm (e.g., mice exposed to a specific dose). This is not good, because technical and biological variability can cause flukes and false differences. 1 technical replicate per arm: if a technician had a bad day or screwed up a protocol when the exposing the mice to the highest dose, your one measurement set could be off. 1 biological replicate per arm: a weird batch of mice, or a batch of sick mice, etc., could throw off your one measurement set for the arm. Most cell line experiments we've worked with have at least 3 technical and biological replicates, in very controlled culture conditions. You'd be amazed at the variability, even in "identical" cells.

      Oh, and read the neat Nature story (summary) [nature.com] where the sex of the scientist performing the experiments on mice can cause statistically significant differences. Because the male and female scents in our clothing can actually induce stress hormone changes in mice. Experiments are sensitive. Replicates are a good thing.

      • Thanks for that informative post. I was about to post the same observations.

        This study does not confirm any such thing. Finding one subgroup with a small effect in one measured outcome over a large study with many subgroups and many potential outcomes is pretty much the definition of P-hacking.

        As an observational study, I suppose this might work. It has pretty much eliminated all other groups and all other cancers as possible effects. A follow on study with more rigorous controls focusing solely on male

    • There is a link to the paper in the summary.
    • Re:No, no it didn't (Score:4, Informative)

      by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Friday March 23, 2018 @02:25AM (#56311021)

      The e-field figures (5, 25 and 50 V/m) are pretty unrealistic as well. An LTE macrocell has 20-69 watts [google.com] of energy at the antenna feedpoint. If you concentrate 69 watts with a 10 DBi gain lobe (typical for cell antennas and completely ignoring radiation efficiency losses of the antenna) you have to be within about 3 meters line-of-sight to get 50 V/m, 6 meters to get 25 V/m and 29 meters to get 5 V/m. There probably are cases in densely populated urban areas where you find yourself in the main lobe of an antenna at these distances, but cellular transceivers in these areas necessarily operate at the low end of the power range due to cell density, so it's pretty difficult to imagine a scenario where large populations of people are getting the amount of continuous e-field exposure used in this work.

    • If there was an impact by RF you would expect some kind of power correlation. At least in the picture you show, for nearly all of those you see more impact at II, than III or IV which are 5 time or 10 time higher dosis. The total absence of power correlation shows me that this is far more a statistical fluke than any real effect.
  • Wonder why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bl968 ( 190792 ) on Friday March 23, 2018 @12:41AM (#56310757) Journal

    The rats were anywhere from 6" to 6' from the full power antenna. Now lets rerun the same test with the rats being 100 feet or more away and see if there is any increase.

  • Straight up lies (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This couldn't be further from the truth. The linked pdf from ehtrust.org is a preprint version. It is NOT the published version of the paper. I pulled the published version of the paper down from my university account and the abstract is completely different, and the results show no statistical differences between those exposed to the magnetic fields vs controls.

    The pubmed entry has the correct abstract: http://pubmed.gov/29549848 [pubmed.gov]
    Read it for yourself.

    The ehtrust.org should be reprimanded for knowingly sprea

    • Re:Straight up lies (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 23, 2018 @04:17AM (#56311311)

      Posting anonymously because I can't avoid moderating your post "overrated" (because "huge mistake" is not an option). The abstract you are linking is a different paper, which studies the impact of 50Hz electromagnetic radiation. The paper being discussed now studies the impact of 1.8GHz radiation, eight orders of magnitude higher. The actual link for the paper under discussion is this one [sciencedirect.com].

      There are other comments presenting and discussing the flaws of the study, but linking to a different paper is completely misleading.

  • As above, the link by AC to the published version's abstract (which I've double-checked and it is from the Ramazzini Institute) shows the OP to be bullshit. capedgirardeau should not be allowed to submit stories on medical or scientific topics in general, and /. should correct itself on this.

    • You're confusing two different papers:

      Results of lifespan exposure to continuous and intermittent extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELFEMF) administered alone to Sprague Dawley rats ("Exposure to ELFEMF alone does not represent risk factor for neoplastic development.")

      Report of final results regarding brain and heart tumors in Sprague-Dawley
      rats exposed from prenatal life until natural death to mobile phone
      radiofrequency field representative of a 1.8 GHz GSM base station
      environmental emission

  • I didn't even know that whales could use cell phones.

    I know they make them waterproof now, but sheesh!

    • I didn't even know that whales could use cell phones.

      Have you not seen any talking on their phone in Walmart?

  • Several studies have been released on this subject.

    The IAEA [iaea.org], the Russian Federation has also produced a report [magdahavas.com], with the effects on males and the American Association of Physicists in Medicine has also produced a report. [wiley.com]

    The question being What is the safe level of microwave irradiation for the ovarian follicles during the first 100 days development of the embryo?

    One analysis [springer.com] revealed that in the study group, the number of follicles was lower than that in the control group. The decreased number of fo

    • How would the emissions from wi-fi routers get all the way to the ovaries? They can't even penetrate the outermost layer of our skin.

      And the difference in wattage between microwave ovens and wifi is pretty significant. 1 watt (FCC max) vs. 1100 watts.

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

        How would the emissions from wi-fi routers get all the way to the ovaries?

        wavelength at 2.4 Ghz is 13cm

        They can't even penetrate the outermost layer of our skin.

        And the power threshold for this is?

        And the difference in wattage between microwave ovens and wifi is pretty significant. 1 watt (FCC max) vs. 1100 watts.

        The point is the sensitivity to the wavelength because we're not talking about cooking children in a microwave oven, we're talking about the threshold for damage to mitochondrial DNA.

  • What I want to know is why do some people so desperately want to believe this nonsense? What's the angle? What does anyone have to gain from "proving" their nonsense right?

    (I guess you could ask that about any kind of nonsense, but I'm asking about this one in particular).

  • Mmmmm.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Scientist here.

    First thing that strikes me is... they don't have replicates, so there is no measure of experimental error. So when they show in Table 2, for example, that the control group had a 0.7% incidence of hyperplasia Schwann cells... we don't know the error. I think this is important because if the (standard) error is, say, plus/minus 0.5%, then some of the results would be within the experimental error. The 95% confidence given that error would be, approximately (0, 1.7) --technically (-0.3 1.7), b

  • One of the most popular locations for cell towers is at or next to schools.
    (Because they get money from the lease.)
    Are we irradiating our children?

  • Renowned Institute? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wdi ( 142463 ) on Friday March 23, 2018 @06:04AM (#56311565)

    The Ramazzini Institute has been publishing dubious studies for more than a decade. They have been accused of data fabrication and deliberate misinterpretation of their own source data (which they tend to keep under wraps even to government institutions) on multiple occasions, and most often publish on environmental and health topics which already got a lot of press (glyphosate, aspartam, methanol, now cell tower radiation). EPA, its Euro equivalent and other reputable institutions have more or less ceased taking these studies seriously (and not just since the new administration took office) and are actively reviewing and updating their older reports which referenced data from that source: http://www.epaarchive.cc/node/92139.html

    Given this history, I am really skeptical wrt this new study.

  • Folks, reading the paper, Table 2 basically proves the exact opposite of what the paper claims. The link is not at all proven. They cherry-pick one significant result out of 36 statistical tests. The level of significance is not specified but, the way it's reported, is probably between 0.01 and 0.05 (wrong between once in a 100 trials or 1 in 20), while Table 2 reports 36 statistical tests. In other words, significance of a test at this level of alpha (type I error) is not at all established. Moreover,
    • What he said....

      You can't have 36 different measured endpoints (degrees of freedom) and then use a p-value of .05 for each of them as your threshold of significance. That isn't how statistics work.

      Small effect sizes in a study with large numbers of measured variables pretty much guarantees that this is nothing more than p-hacking.

  • period.

    Only ionizing radiation can effect the cells and cause mutations (and possibly cancer)

    /. should be ashamed for posting this drivel.
  • The Sprague-Dawley rats used in this study are notoriously prone to cancer. If you touch one with your hands it will get fingerprint shaped skin cancers. They have apparently have had all their DNA repair functions eliminated. They are used in toxicology because they are supersensitive to cancer, but the results are often dubious at best. I doubt that any study done with these animals can be trusted
  • This strain of rats gets cancer at a high rate (45%) no matter what you do. This is literally the worst experimental model for determining if anything causes cancer as you cannot determine which cancers were going to happen anyway. However, this is the perfect model for generating click bait headlines that support your belief that something causes cancer without actually having to risk spending all of that money to find out you are wrong.
  • The responses to this post tend to refute the conclusions or point out fallacies or biases or weak statistics or correlation factors. Much of that critique is valid - a whole lot of people here jumped onto the problems with the study. But, there are also a few points worth noting.

    Biological effects -
    Beginning in the latter 19th century, chemistry became the basis for understanding biology, and physical influences on biological systems were, and still are, relegated to lesser rank, not so robust methods, a

  • The insurance companies are constantly mining their data for payouts on cancer treatments. They're correlating common threads between these patients such as work environment and then lobbying industry to change the work environment to reduce the cancer risk.

    If cellphone radiation was causing cancer, the insurance companies would see higher incidents of cancer treatment payouts for cellphone tower technicians. They would then lobby OSHA to modify regulations surrounding cellphone tower work.
  • They're what happens in the natural environment where people live and work everyday. DUH.
    If you want to derive conclusions about environmental levels of radiation you compare shielded with unshielded. Right? :P

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