Cellphone Radiation Tied to Upped Odds for Cancer -- in Rats

Nichole VegaNov 04, 2018

When exposed to radio frequency radiation like that used in 2G and 3G cellphones, male rats developed heart tumors, and there was also evidence of tumors in the brain and adrenal gland.

The National Toxicology Programme study was started in the Clinton administration when the government was still interested in science and less interested in what the Bible or big corporates had to say. Changes from draft report in February include higher level of confidence for conclusion about tumours in male rat hearts, to "clear evidence" from "some evidence", Bucher said.

And, "the exposures used in the studies can not be compared directly to the exposure that humans experience when using a cellphone", NTP senior scientist John Bucher noted in an NIEHS news release.

Cell phones emit radio frequency radiation (RFR) that scientists have long anxious could cause cancer.

What's more, the rodents were exposed to cellphone radiation - known as radio-frequency radiation - at greater levels, and for much longer periods, than what people experience, the researchers said.

The lowest level of radiation in the federal study was equal to the maximum exposure that federal regulations allow for cellphone users. The scientific community will consider today's report in the context of the many scientific studies conducted over several decades.

In February, those scientists were surprised enough by their findings that they issued a warning based on preliminary data: a link between cell phones and cancer was looking likely - though only in some animals. The report also says that the radiation levels were much higher than what people are exposed to when using their cellphones.

Toxicology studies more than 10 years in the making have found that high exposure to radiation from radio frequencies used by cell phones was linked to tumors in male rats.

These studies did not investigate the types of RFR used for Wi-Fi or 5G networks.

The National Toxicology Program will share the results of the studies with the US Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Communications Commission, which will then review the information as part of its monitoring of research on the potential effects of RFR.

"A major strength of our studies is that we were able to control exactly how much radio frequency radiation the animals received - something that's not possible when studying human cell phone use, which has often relied on questionnaires", said Michael Wyde, Ph.D., lead toxicologist on the studies.

In a seeming contradiction, male rats exposed to cellphone signals lived longer than rats not exposed. The animals were exposed to a total of 9 hours of radiation per day, in 10-minutes sessions.

Some females and some mice developed tumors, but it was mainly male rats exposed to the highest levels of radiation that developed life-threatening cancers.

Future studies will focus on developing measurable physical indicators, or biomarkers, of potential effects from RFR.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, the U.S. FDA's director for Devices and Radiological Health, such animal studies are important in the discussion, but it was not created to test the safety of cellphones in humans and could therefore not be used to draw conclusions for humans.

One thing the two agencies, which both fall under the US Department of Health and Human Services, agree on is that the findings of these studies in rats and mice should not apply to human cell phone use.

It's the NIH's job to assess public health trends and risks from environmental factors like radiation and warn us accordingly, and so it did.

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