"Game-Changing" Study Links Cellphone Radiation to Cancer

Josh Harkinson | Mother Jones | May 27, 2016

An increased incidence of brain and heart tumors was seen in rats.

It's the moment we've all been dreading. Initial findings from a massive federal study, released on Thursday, suggest that radio-frequency (RF) radiation, the type emitted by cellphones, can cause cancer. The findings from a $25 million study, conducted over two and a half years by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), showed that male rats exposed to two types of RF radiation were significantly more likely than unexposed rats to develop a type of brain cancer called a glioma, and also had a higher chance of developing the rare, malignant form of tumor known as a schwannoma of the heart. The effect was not seen in females.

Josh HarkinsonThe radiation level the rats received was "not very different" from what humans are exposed to when they use cellphones, said Chris Portier, a former associate director of the NTP who commissioned the study. As the intensity of the radiation increased, so did the incidence of cancer in the rats. (The highest radiation level was five to seven times as strong as what humans typically receive while using a phone.) Although ionizing radiation, which includes gamma rays and X-rays, is widely accepted as a carcinogen, the wireless industry has long noted that there is no known mechanism by which RF radiation causes cancer.

The researchers wrote that the results "appear to support" the conclusion that RF radiation may indeed be carcinogenic. The findings should be a wake-up call for the scientific establishment, according to Portier, who is now a contributing scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. "I think this is a game changer," he said. "We seriously have to look at this issue again in considerable detail." "The NTP does the best animal bioassays in the word," Portier added. "Their reputation is stellar. So if they are telling us this was positive in this study, that's a concern"...