As Christmas is over and the New Year 2012 is fast approaching this is the time of the year when we look back at what was achieved during the past 12 months.
Let’s briefly look at several areas such as:
Research in 2011
- Research evaluation
- This science blog here and
In the scientific research on cell phone radiation was no any very dramatic breakthrough in 2011. However, few publications gained attention. Though, not always for their excellence…
Two research groups, one in USA and the other in Finland, have shown in a small pilot studies that the cell phone radiation might affect glucose metabolism in human brain. Even though the US study has shown increase and Finnish study a decline in glucose metabolism, the both studies are a step in the right direction. We need studies that examine molecular level changes in human body under the influence of cell phone radiation. Firstly, such studies will demonstrate whether human body reacts in any significant manner to the cell phone radiation. Secondly, the observed molecular level changes might be used to predict what physiological changes can be induced by the cell phone radiation. We need to focus not only on what detrimental effects cell phone radiation might induce but more importantly on ways and means of preventing these changes before they happen. Prevention of is the best cure…
One epidemiological study, the Danish Cohort update, was hailed by the authors and the news media as the largest and most informative proof of the lack of causality between cell phone radiation and cancer. However, as shown by others, this study is a complete failure due to flawed design that causes significant contamination of the control population with, among others, the persons with the highest exposure to cell phone radiation. The esteemed British Medical Journal was asked to retract this paper. However, no signs of such activity were so far displayed by the Editors or the article authors alike.
However, following the publication of my weekly column in The WashingtonTimes.com community pages, I got a message from a very prominent researcher who wrote the following:
“…I wonder why you waste time writing about epidemiology, not being an epidemiologist yourself. I had discussed the Danish study with the authors and other epidemiologists: it is a most important study with limitations that are clearly outlined: it will never be withdrawn…”
Is this the end of the story? Hopefully not. The Danish Cohort is very flawed and “admissions” of the flaws, by the authors in discussion part of the article, do not help the end result. It is rubbish…
The most important meeting/event of the passing year was the evaluation of the scientific evidence by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). All scientific evidence was evaluated by the Working Group of 30 experts invited by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The evaluator work was done in plenary sessions of the whole Working Group and in subgroups I-IV: exposure to radiation (4 experts), epidemiology (10 experts), animal studies (4 experts) and mechanistic studies (12 experts with 1 expert absent; I was in this subgroup), respectively.
Subgroups worked on assigned to them scientific articles and prepared by the subgroup members, before the meeting, reviews of various areas of the scientific evidence. Unfortunately, because of “miscommunication” between IARC and experts the majority of the work time in subgroups was spent on revision of the reviews, prepared before the meeting. The time in the subgroups meetings was used less for the discussion about science and more on “literary” issues.
The science that was analyzed in subgroups was later brought before the plenary meeting of the whole Working Group. The outcome of the subgroup discussions was decided either by unanimous acceptance of certain view or by compromise or was decided by voting where simple majority wins. This organization of the work in subgroups led to situations where certain scientific evidence was unjustly dismissed.
There were also made conclusions that at the first sight appear to be correct. However, to the experts knowing the research field the conclusions tell the truth but not the whole truth. For example the following statement:
“…There is insufficient evidence from human studies to determine if RF radiation has effects on gene and protein expression… ”
The statement is correct but it is based on a single pilot study analyzing protein expression that was published in 2008. If more studies will not be done then this statement will be “correct” forever.
The classification of the cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen has come to many scientists as a great surprise. It is the first time when the world-wide respected agency has openly admitted that the cell phone radiation is a possible health risk- in this case to develop cancer. The classification was predominantly based on the evidence from epidemiology and from the animal studies. The epidemiological evidence included the results from the Swedish group of Lennart Hardell, what was hotly discussed and led to “walk-out” of one expert.
The evidence from the animal studies was also vigorously discussed and some experts attempted to down play conclusions of their own studies, when these conclusions were used as supportive evidence for the existence of cancer-related effects. Such attempts were dismissed. Interestingly, the strongest evidence from animal studies was provided by studies using combination of chemical carcinogens and cell phone radiation.
Already during the meeting in Lyon, some were asking why the evidence from laboratory in vitro studies does not play a more important role. The explanation is in the following statement from the final summary of the work of subgroup IV:
“…Overall Evaluation: The data from studies of genes, proteins and changes in cellular signaling are insufficient to provide mechanistic evidence of carcinogenesis in humans…”
Within the mechanistic subgroup IV were voices (including my own) that wanted to use the in vitro laboratory evidence in support of the carcinogenic effects of cell phone radiation but the democratic voting prevented it.
In 2012, will take place evaluation of all studies (not only cancer-related) by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). This evaluation, similarly like IARC evaluation, will be used by the World Health Organization to make their recommendation.
However, we might already know what ICNIRP thinks about the epidemiological evidence. Immediately after the IARC announced their classification of cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen, ICNIRP has published a commentary on the epidemiological evidence with the concluding statement:
“…Although there remains some uncertainty, the trend in the accumulating evidence is increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumours in adults.…”
This science blog is slowly growing and for this I most sincerely thank all my readers and all those who “dared” to submit comments. Thank you very much.
In August 2009 I started to have science blog on this wordpress.com site.
In 2009 (5 months) this blog was visited 1519 times (=10 visits/day)
In 2010 (52 weeks) this blog was visited 7428 times (=20 visits/day)
In 2011 (51 weeks) this blog was visited 15687 times (=43 visits/day)
In total this blog was visited 24619 times since its beginning and has currently 280 active subscribers. Thank you again…
A new development, that brought a new responsibility and a better visibility for the issues I am writing about, was the invitation from the Communities at The WashingtonTimes.com to keep a weekly column in the Health & Science section. It is also called “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”. Starting December 4, 2011, I have published 5 columns this year. The next one will appear after the New Year 2012.
Another new development that I am sill learning how it works is twitter. You can follow me on twitter @blogBRHP (http://twitter.com/blogBRHP) and stay up to date with the developments in 2012 and beyond…
I WISH YOU ALL A VERY SUCCESSFUL NEW YEAR 2012 !