Sep 022009
Authors: Alex Stephens

Every so often, we experience moments when our illusions of safety, control and trust are shattered. It’s called an “oh sh*t” moment, like discovering you’ve contracted herpes. I certainly had one after reading a report that had me giving the cautious evil-eye to one of our most beloved necessities.

Cell phones cause brain cancer and the telecom industry has been covering it up for at least the past ten years. I hope you took it well.

I love to jump on the bandwagon of the latest conspiracies (seriously, did you even watch how the towers fell!), but this one transcends the realm of paranoia into that of typical corporate, soulless disregard for human wellbeing.

The newly released exposé “Cell phones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern” reveals a diabolical underworld of cell phones that might have the most stalwart talkers raising an eyebrow.

Ten years ago major cell phone producers, such as Motorola, preempted serious government safety regulations by offering to conduct their own studies as to the effects of cell phone usage, later to be known as the Interphone studies. Various North American and European governments agreed, thus allowing the telecom industry to virtually monopolize data on the health risks of cell phones.

For the $4 trillion a year telecom industry, quite a bit of money relies on two factors: positive results of the incredibly skewed Interphone studies, which for instance excluded certain categories of cancer as well as employed significant subject selection, and the continued ignorance of the global consuming public.

Interphone study results, the release of which had been delayed upwards of five years, were audacious. Among other absurdities, they claimed prolonged cell phone use for less than ten years actually protected against the formation of brain tumors. Such preposterous results unavoidably pointed to the intentional design flaws created to systematically yield positive findings.

My grandmother told me that when she was pregnant, her doctor actually encouraged her to smoke cigarettes. Now, 50-some-odd years later, another industry giant is purporting that their product is not only safe, but also beneficial. Oh really?

Evidence reveals that the industry knew as early as February 1999 that cell phone use caused brain tumors to develop. Shockingly (well, not really) cell phones stayed on the market because of regulation loopholes.

Federal Communications Commission standards are based on the false premise that short-term exposure to thermal radiation has no harmful effects. Older, similar standards mistakenly show that electromagnetic field radiation, which cell phones emit, has no biological danger and thus poses no health threat.

If cell phones were harmless, why would current cell phone manuals outline specific safety guidelines for operation? Go read yours.

According to the manuals of popular phones such as the Nokia 1100, Blackberry 8300 and iPhone, the only safe method of operating or even possessing a cell phone is to keep it at least 1/4 of an inch to 1 inch away from your body at all times.

Do you talk on your Blackberry .98 inches away from your head? Or your iPhone, 5/8ths of an inch away? Those are the actual recommendations, and no, I didn’t think you did.

Just how “compromised” are you? Of the few independent studies done, many, such as Swedish professor Lennart Hardell’s study which appeared this year in the International Journal of Oncology, suggest that for every 100 hours spent using a cell phone your chances of developing brain tumors increase by 5 percent, after 10 years chances increase 280 percent, and if you were a teenager when you started using a cell phone your chances jump 420 percent.

Even Interphone studies begrudgingly admit a 300 percent increased risk of developing acoustic neuroma.

Should you panic? Yes, you’ve been grossly misled. Similar to smoking, the telecom industry doesn’t want you to be aware of the health risks associated with their product. They go to multi-million dollar lengths to ensure you’re kept ignorant.

As the lead author of the exposé phrased it, “Exposure to cell phone radiation is the largest human health experiment ever undertaken, without informed consent, and has some 4 billion participants enrolled … the public must be informed.”

Alex Stephens is a senior political science major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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