• “A job worth doing is a job worth doing well”

 

Epidemiological case-control studies, examining risk of brain cancer due to exposure to mobile phone radiation, is the job that was not done well – at least so far…

Last night and today I got several messages informing that Lennart Hardell has published new analysis of his data (http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2010/12/17/ije.dyq246.extract). It is a reanalysis of his old data but with a “twist”. He has extracted from his old data only the data that has the same parameters and boundaries as the data of the Interphone study (e.g. age of the subjects, length of the mobile phone use, and exclusion of non-mobile phone exposures). The analysis of such “refined” Hardell data has now shown that both the Hardell data and the Interphone data lead to very similar end results.

It is an interesting development because for a very long time researchers were “puzzled” why Hardell’s studies show different risk and the Interphone studies different. What makes it interesting is that in the recently published ICNIRP evaluation of the epidemiology data, the scientists stated that they have no clue why there is a difference between Hardell’s results and the other published results (https://betweenrockandhardplace.wordpress.com/2009/08/06/how-reliable-is-the-epidemiological-evidence-on-mobile-phones-and-cancer/). It might be so that now, Hardell has shown what the reason was.

However, there is a very worrying development, caused by the publication of Hardell’s re-analysis of data. It seems like some people have already jumped to conclusions. They think that if the Hardell’s re-analyzed data agree with the Interphone data then it is an ultimate proof that the conclusions drawn from the both data-sets are correct and that they ultimately prove that there is an increase of brain cancer risk in people highly exposed to mobile phone radiation.

Hold your horses. NO! It is not so.

We are dealing still with the two studies that are in part based on unreliable data. In both studies exposure of the subjects was evaluated retrospectively by asking what people remember. It means that both data-sets have the same exposure bias. Hence, the final analyses are as unreliable in both of the studies.

The fact that the results of one unreliable study (Interphone) are being confirmed by the other unreliable study (Hardell’s re-analysis) does not make either of them more reliable. They both contain the same biases and, therefore, it can be expected that they lead to similar results. Adding up two erroneous answers does not produce a correct answer.

So, let us stop crunching and re-crunching data from Interphone and Hardell.  As a proverb says: “It is useless to flog a dead horse”.

Let us agree that both data sets are biased and whichever way they will be re-evaluated the biases will not disappear, and the re-analyzed data will still be insufficient to make any scientifically reliable conclusions.

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10 thoughts on “• “A job worth doing is a job worth doing well”

  1. If it is just a simple heating issue, why aren’t they honest about the microwave auditory effect?
    Instead of simple tissue heating, it is effecting the nervous system that is contained within that tissue.

  2. Sad enough, the ICNIRP system is a simple believe system, if it doesn’t heat you it can’t hurt you.

    This is simple, but sadly humans and animals are bioelectrical beings and even very subtle radiation such as well known Schumann Resonance (SR – the breath of earth) can have despite its little strength (1 mV/m) huge impact on humans. WHile ICNIRP “limits” are about 5.000.000 mV/m in this frequency range! How come?

    ICNIRP is just like measuring the effects of ionizing radiation with a thermometer, a simple fraud.

    Best regards

    Michael Heiming

    http://microondes.wordpress.com/

  3. Ηenrik is correct with his comments and I agree.
    This is the problem we are facing today with
    the safety standards and EMF effects.

  4. Will someone please explain why “safety standards” for non pre-market tested technology should be based on causal evidence?

    There seem to be two competing interests at play: the desire to actively protect public health in the face of uncertainty and the desire to scientifically explain all observed effect mechanisms before acting.

    If all risks were analyzed according to the criteria used to arrive at the current “safety standards” then, for example, observing the tip of an iceberg would lead to the assessment that it’s unsafe for ships to sail towards it, but fine for submarines.

    Consider the reality of todays exposure: four billion people pressing microwave transmitters against their heads and at the same time chronically exposed to cordless phones, wifi and cell-phone towers – who wants to gamble?

    Waiting for causal evidence before preventing exposure means that a significant portion of four billion people will already be damaged.

    Do the current “safety standards” account for cumulative effects from chronic exposure?
    Are the current “safety standards” then even applicable in today’s chronic exposure reality?

    Please forgive my complete naivety when I ask why the safety standards aren’t set at the threshold where biological effects have been shown to occur? Keeping in mind that exposure these days is practically chronic.

  5. In response to Stelios’ suggestion that we have enough scientific basis for lowering the standards, I must respectfully disagree. With all due respect to the studies cited by Stelios, showing the effects of mobile phone radiation at low SAR values, this evidence is not sufficient. These are mostly single studies. Their replications often failed. This evidence is not solid enough to change safety standards. It would be arbitrary decission. For me, the evidence provided by the studies cited by Stelios, supports the notion that the further research is urgently needed. These studies suggest, but not prove, that effects at low SAR might be possible. However, the evidence provided by these few studies is insufficient to scientifically justify lowering of the current safety standards.

  6. I like to thank Dariusz. for his comments on my recent reply. However, I do like to make the following analysis concerning his discussion about making any changes on the safety standards now would be just arbitrary. Today’s standards do have elements of arbitration. They are based on short term, immediate health effects such as …, caused by … elevated tissue temperatures-thermal effects(Health Physics April 1998, Vol. 74, Number 4, Page 496). Lets look the 1998 ICNIRP Report:

    Page 506 reports: Repacholi et al (1997) have reported that exposure of … mice to 900MHz fields, … for 18 months, produced a doubling in lymphoma …. … appears that this study suggests a non-thermal mechanism may be acting, …BUT, what would happen if the exposure was followed up for more than 18 months? This was not taking in consideration.

    Page 504 reports: …Results obtained by Lillienfeld et al (1978) in a study of employees in the USA embassy in Moscow, found no evidence of increased morbidity or mortality. BUT was not mentioned the 1995 paper which Goldsmith published concerning this Lillienfeld s report: … when the lawyer provided me copies of documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, which indicated persistent cover-up and deliberate distortions of views of highly regarded scientists with respect to risks from these exposures(Godsmith, John R. Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics (1995), 92-4).

    Page 506 reports: When we compare the pulsed radiation with continuous radiation, with the same energy, the pulsed is more effective in producing a biological response… BUT this was not taking in consideration.

    Furthemore, one year later(1999) an Expert Panel concerning the non-thermal effects reported: …effects on cell proliferation, Ca efflux, blood brain barrier permeability, behavior and ornithine decarboxylase activity … occur below these levels. Many of these latter studies have also been repeated in independent laboratories. Also they reported the following non-thermal studies: Stagg et al 1997 Cell proliferation 5.9mW/kg
    Bawn et al 1978 Calcium efflux 1 W/m2
    Dutta et al 1984 Calcium efflux 0.05, 1.0W/kg
    Oscar and Hawkins 1977 Blood brain barrier permeability 0.3W/kg, 1W/kg
    Salford et al 1992, 1994 Blood brain barrier permeability 0.1W/kg
    Lai and Carino et al 1992a and 1992b Biobehavioural 0.4W/kg, 0.08W/kg
    Byus and Hawel 1997 Ornithine decarboxylase activity 0.08W/kg
    (An Expert Panel Report prepared at the request of the Royal Society of Canada for Health Canada The Royal Society of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, March 1999).
    These studies were not included in the 1998 ICNIRP report

    I think we have enough scientific evidence to change the standards by lowering the exposure to EMF. I am very concerned with the answer Ms Vassiliou gave on behalf of the European Commission(30 April 2009) … Lowering limits of EMF has financial consequences for the sector and should only be imposed when there would be clear evidence that they would have a positive effect on health. We may not know this answer many many years from now .

    P.S.
    For unknown reason my previous reply was not complete. Was missing the text from all quotation marks.

    CORRECTION
    First paragraph, quotation: Overall, no increase in risk of glioma or meningioma was observed with use of mobile phones. There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma at the highest exposure levels, but biases and error prevent a causal interpretation. The possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones require further investigation.

    Third paragraph
    1st quotation -scientific reliable
    conclusions
    2d quotation -sound science
    3d quotation -good epidemiology
    4th quotation -junk science
    5th quotation -scientific reliable
    conclusion

  7. In response to Stelios:
    I do not agree with your statement about Hardell’s re-analysis that ” the final conclusion should be more towards an action for immediate protection”. First of all, having two unreliable studies does not make them more reliable because instead of one we have now two. It does not work this way. We still have unreliable evidence from the case-control Epi studies. Secondly, the call for immediate protection feels like call for changing standards. However, what would be the correct level of exposure that would improve protection. We do not have answer to this question. I have said in my written testimony to the US Senate in September 2009 that the current safety standards are not sufficiently supported by the available science. I have repeated this statement in my recent lecture at the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Audust 2010. However, the problem of protection is that we do not know what the correct level of protection is, and making any changes into safety standards now would be just arbitrary. We need more research. Meanwhile, anyone concerned can reduce exposures to mobile phone radiation by using earpiece or limiting length of the calls.

  8. I do not think in this case, there is a question as to which study is more or less reliable. But the major question is if the public is protected by today’s standards for the exposure to EMF, since the INTERPHONE study which was completed in 2004, but for unknown reasons, the results were published six years later, upon demand by scientific organizations such as the European Environment Agency and the European Union (2009) reported: <>
    Hardell΄s re-analysis has shown that, his findings are consistent with the INTERPHONE study. Also these results are consistent with the natural history of these diseases and also with many biological findings in laboratories. This tells as that we need more public protection to prevent the devastated consequences in the years to come, since these results were found for more than 1640 hours of telephone use and a duration of more than 10 years.
    The <> may not come for 50 or so years. For examples asbestosis and tobacco took 100 years and just for information the year 2000 there was the discussion about <> and <> verses <> to discredit the evidence that secondhand smoke causes disease(Ong et al.. Am. J. Public Health 2001 Nov 91(11):1749-57). Furthermore, with topics in medicine and public health we do not wait, for example in inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn and Ulcerative Colitis), which were described in 1932 by Crohn, Ginzberg and Oppenheimer, still 78 years later we do not have the <>, but we do treat, protect and advice the patients.
    I think with a such findings in Hardell s re-analysis, the final conclusion should be more towards an action for immediate protection and continue the studies, rather than waiting many more years and with the next studies in the future again wait many more years. With a such approach we will do more harm and less good to public health and to science.

  9. The data might indeed be unreliable, though there is a mountain of research pointing in the direction how serious the problems with EMF are.

    Per accident I found a classic which was long lost and can be now downloaded (ebook) for free:

    http://microondes.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/a-presman-electromagnetic-fields-and-life/

    It is amazing how much was known 40 years ago already! Although not that much recognized in the Western World.

    Best regards

    Michael Heiming

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