nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Friday, June 25, 2010

The Latest On Cell Phone And Cancer: It's Protective, No It Isn't, Yes it is....

It's never made sense from the point of view of radiation physics that cell  phones would cause cancer, but they prevent cancer?

Preventing cancer is just as biologically implausible.

PART 1:  A new study prublished in the  International Journal of Epidemiology (as reported by the WSJ  Blog, May 29) looked at cell phone use across 13 countries in adults 30-59 years old who had been diagnosed with one of two types of brain cancer:  glioma or meningioma.

[Forget the jargon.  Brain cancer isn't common as a type of cancer, but among tumors of the brain, these are the more common ones.  The first is usually bad, the second can be relatively benign, sometimes.]

This group was compared to matched controls. 

The result?  Cell phone use protected against these tumors. 


OK, there are some problems with the research.  The control group tended to be more frequent users than those who declined to participate.  That can blur any finding of increased risk (...but decreased risk?).

Second, even though at the very highest level of cell phone use there was an increased risk of tumor, the trend from low use to high use wasn't dose-related.  If cell phone radiation is causing tumors, then the more exposure the more tumors.  But that didn't happen.

PART 2:  A study published in the British Medical Journal (June 2), found no correlation between cell phone towers and childhood cancers.  The authors looked at 1397 cases of cancer in children and 5588 controls, then looked at how far they lived from cell phone towers and calculated the exposure from the power generated by each of those towers.  Result: no effect.

For Onion Peelers, (boring statistics...skip it)
For radiation exposure at the address at birth, they divided results into three categories--low, medium, and high exposure.  Compared with the lowest exposure category the adjusted odds ratios were 1.01 (95% confidence interval 0.87 to 1.18) in the intermediate and 1.02 (0.88 to 1.20) in the highest exposure category for all cancers (P=0.79 for trend), 0.97 (0.69 to 1.37) and 0.76 (0.51 to 1.12), respectively, for brain and central nervous system cancers (P=0.33 for trend), and 1.16 (0.90 to 1.48) and 1.03 (0.79 to 1.34) for leukaemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (P=0.51 for trend).

So none of these odds ratios are significantly different from 1.0, that is, no increased odds of cancer.  And the p-values were all way above the threshold of 0.05 needed to show a difference.

The bottom line is we're gonna have to keep working at this, but it's clearly a setback for the Precious Bodily Fluids crowd.

Doc D

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