Indian scientists show the way forward

On Wednesday morning, September 17, 2014, I had two interesting meetings. The first one with Professor Neeta Singh, Head of the Biochemistry Department at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the President of the Indian Association on Cancer Research. The second one with Dr. R. S. Sharma, Sr. Deputy Director General with the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Both scientists are actively involved in research on the health effects of cell phone radiation “Effect of Non-Ionizing EMF (Mobile Phone Radiation) on Human Health”, and Dr. Sharma is the Chief-Coordinator of the project.

The reasons for conducting a large multi-year study in India are as follows (abbreviated from the Indian original by DL):

  1. Dramatic increase of exposure to mobile phone radiation.
  2. ICNIRP guidelines were developed for western countries population and because of it these safety standards might not apply to Indian population that is physiologically and environmentally very different from the western population.
  3. Exposure limits followed in India are higher than exposure limits in number of other countries as these countries have developed their own health based precautionary guidelines.
  4. International scientific data did not establish conclusive evidence on the health risk of RF-EMF exposures but growing body of evidence indicates that bio-effects exist and adverse health effects may be not only possible but even probable.
  5. WHO/IARC classified RF-EMF as possibly carcinogenic to humans (group 2B).

Considering the above mentioned reasons, Indian Council of Medical Research proposed a study with the following objective

To study the effect of RFR emitted from cell phone on brain, heart, reproductive organs, ear and cancer related problems, if any

Study groups are divided into male and female subgroups and into heavy exposed persons, using cell phone more than 4 hours per day, moderately exposed persons, using cell phone for 2-4 hours per day and control persons who do not use cell phone or cordless phone at all.

Persons enrolled in the study will be examined using blood tests and semen tests and clinicians will examine for neurological, cardiological, cancer and reproductive disorders. An important part of the project will be various biochemical analyses of the blood and semen samples. The project will follow health of enrolled persons for more than 10 years.

Without the more detailed knowledge of all experimental and clinical methods it is not possible to fully judge the project. However, the breadth of examined end-points and length of the project suggest that the large amount of biomedical data will be gathered. This is the kind of studies that should be urgently funded and executed in Europe and in USA. Projects where biochemical, physiological and health parameters of study persons will be examined and followed for many years.

Interesting is the question asked by the Indian scientists – do ICNIRP safety standards apply to all human populations living in diverse environments and having different genetic background. If, as the suggest, western safety standards do not apply to Indian population, then the WHO safety standards harmonization idea loses its basis and justification…

Epidemiology alone, because of the intrinsic limitations of this method, will never give us conclusive answers. Only by combining epidemiological evidence with the biochemical, physiological and clinical evidence from a large human cohorts we might get, in due time, conclusive answers concerning effects of RF-EMF emitted by cell phones, cell towers and wi-fi networks on human health.