NTP Releases Study Of Health Effects Of Exposure To Cellular Radiation In Rodents
NTP Releases Study Of Health Effects Of Exposure To Cellular Radiation In Rodents

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The US Brain Tumor Association, sent out a press release today in regards to a recently completed study by the the US National Toxicology Program  (NTP).  The study found evidence that exposure to certain types of cellular radiation increased the risk of some types of cancer in male rats.

The US National Toxicology Program is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services.  The US Brain Tumor Association (USBTA) is a consumer advocate group with no government affiliation.  Their website was registered in 2017 and its president Kevin Mottus and executive director Rola Masri are neither MD's or PhD's.  They are however advised by a team of 3 scientists holding either PhD's, MD's or a combination of both.

What Claims Does The Advocate Group Make?

The consumer advocate group's press release appears to have been designed to grab headlines with content that is a bit misleading.  Anthony Miller an MD and adviser to the USBTA stated the following:

"The $25 million US National Toxicology Program Study has proven again what other studies have shown us that wireless radiation is a Class 1 Human Carcinogen like cigarette smoke and asbestos and should be treated as such. The NTP study proved wireless radiation can cause cancer and it can damage our DNA which can lead to a host of serious diseases. We must warn people and minimize exposure. I along with more than 200 of my colleagues who are expert in the field have called for a moratorium on the roll out of 5G which promises to maximize our exposure to harmful wireless radiation (5Gappeal.eu). Action must be taken to protect our public’s health.”

Miller is the former Director of the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group and former member of the World Health Organization Expert Advisory Panel on Cancer from 2005-2015.  Miller is also the former Director of the Epidemiology Unit of the National Cancer Institute of Canada; former Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Evaluation of Screening for Cancer, a former Chairman Scientific Advisory Committee at the Occupational Cancer Research Centre from 2009-2017.

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Paul Heroux PhD Physicist and Toxicologist, another adviser to the USBTA also chimed in.

"The US IEEE-FCC human safety guidelines for wireless radiation which only protect against thermal heating or burning were scientifically false decades ago. The idea that wireless microwaves can only harm the body by heating is ridiculous, as our cells are damaged and impaired in their function before heating. The National Toxicology Program Study, The Ramazzini Institute Study, The Chou Air Force Study and The Repacholi Mice Study all proved it. We have the mechanism by which wireless radiation can cause cancer, DNA damage, and many other serious diseases throughout the body. Members of Congress have been blinded by industry, who have also captured the FCC and many members of the media, using advertising spending. The idea that 5G with its more intense millimeter wave radiation emissions will be safe is wrong, it will actually be quite harmful."

According to Seungmo Kim, Ph.D, Assistant Professor Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Southern University:

“The wireless radiation from 5G will be 30 times greater than previous 4G LTE systems based on our recent study of 28Ghz planned to be used by new 5G wireless systems-this radiation will be most absorbed by the skin and eyes. I do not believe that this and other safety issues are being taken into account adequately before the FCC auctions off 28Ghz and similar 24Ghz microwave frequencies on November 14th.”

All of this sounds like some pretty scary stuff.  However, once you look over the actual study details you may find some of the comments made in the USBTA's press release to be rather misleading and irresponsible.  The opening statement of the PR made by Anthony Miller MD warns us that "The NTP study proved wireless radiation can cause cancer and it can damage our DNA which can lead to a host of serious diseases".  While this may one day be proven to be completely false, or 100% true, the NTP study he referenced to support his claims was done in rats and mice.  It doesn't prove anything other than what may happen to rats or mice under a very specific set of circumstances which are detailed below.  What happens in rodents may or may not be relevant to humans.

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Cell Phone Radio Frequency Radiation Study Details And Results

The study conducted by the NTP looked at the effects that 2G and 3G cellular radio frequencies (RFR) had on the health of rats and mice.  Its aim was to help clarify the potential health hazards the radio waves have including cancer risk.  The study cost $30 million and took over 10 years to complete.  It is considered to be the most comprehensive study to date on the heath effects of animals exposed to RFR.

How The Study Was Conducted

Rats and mice were exposed to RFR in special chambers for up to two years, a time span that amounts to most of their natural lives.  Exposure began in the womb for rats and at 5-6 weeks old for mice.  The exposure was intermittent with cycling of 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off totaling about 9 hours each day.  RFR levels ranged from 1.5 to 6 watts per kilogram (W/kg) of body weight in rats and 2.5 to 10 watts per kilogram in mice.  To represent CDMA and GSM wireless technology, the rats and mice had their whole bodies exposed to RFR at frequencies of 900 and 1900 MHZ respectively.

The minimum RFR exposure level of 1.5 W/kg actually corresponds to the maximum levels allowed in human cell phone use.  The highest exposure level of 10 W/kg was several fold higher than the maximum power level that is allowed for human tissues.  The maximum exposure allowed in humans is 1.6 W/kg and it is known as the specific absorption rate or SAR level.  You can find out what level your cell phone exposes you to by looking up its SAR level online and often by looking at its specs sheet or user manual.

What The Study Found

The study found evidence of the following:

  • Clear evidence of tumors in the hearts of male rats.  The tumors were malignant schwannomas.
  • Some evidence of tumors in the brains of male rats.  The tumors were malignant gliomas.
  • Some evidence of tumors in the adrenal glands of male rats. The tumors were pheochromocytomas.

There were also some cancers observed in female rats, and male and female mice.  However, the authors of the study were not able to determine if the cancers had any association with RFR exposure.

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One surprise finding was that male rats had longer lifespans than their unexposed counterparts.  The authors think the exposure may have caused a decrease in chronic kidney problems.  Kidney disease is typically a cause of death in older rats.

What Does It All Mean And For You?

The study was done in rats and mice, used extremely high levels of radiation at durations much longer than humans would be exposed to.  The exposure also covered the entire body of the animal whereas in humans it is typically localized.  For the listed reasons, the study results do not directly apply to humans.  Furthermore, there was really only an impact on select tissues in male rats but not in females or male or female mice.  The authors also state that the study results do not apply to either 4G or the upcoming 5G wireless technology.

The study does however question the long-held assumption that radio frequency radiation is of no concern as long as the energy level is low and does not significantly heat the tissues.  This is something that the USBTA did also point out in their press release today as well.

According to the American Cancer Society, most studies to date, including those involving humans do not show a link between cell phone use and cancer incidence.  However, nothing is 100% certain.  If you are concerned with the potential for adverse health effects, the FDA suggests you take the following precautions.

  • Use your phones speaker mode or a headset to keep a greater distance between your cell phone and head.
  • Reduce the amount of time you spend each day using your cell phone.

You can view a summary of the NTP's study results here.  A press release put out by the NTP today, November 1, 2018 is also available.  You can view the press release of the USBTA watch dog group here.

 





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Of course the studies were conducted on rats and mice – it would be unethical to test on humans. Regarding exposure, keep in mind that very few people keep mobile handsets the 5-15 mm away from their cranium as handset manufacturers use in the new outdated standard for homologation testing (CBC Marketplace did an episode on this discrepancy, “The secret inside your cellphone”).