Leszczynski: A brief comments on the NTP study

National Toxicology Program‘s study should have been done a long time ago, before the cell phones were commercially introduced on the market. This is a typical toxicology study aimed at determining the safety of a radiation-emitting gadget.

NTP study suggests that the cell phone radiation increases carcinogenicity, formation of the brain cancer – glioma. Another animal study, published recently by the group of Alexander Lerchl from Germany, observed that cell phone radiation enhances carcinogenic effects of chemicals.

Furthermore, both above mentioned animal studies had well designed and executed radiation exposure of animals and both well controlled for the temperature of the exposed animals. This means that the effects observed in both animal studies were of non-thermal nature, no matter whether we know or do not know yet the mechanism of it.

This means that recently two large, well designed animal studies found that cell phone radiation is involved in carcinogenesis in animals. Such positive results, carcinogenic effect, suggest that human health might be in some danger. However, the size and the scope of the health risk needs to be further examined and determined by epidemiological studies.

As with every scientific study, there are some questions needing some answers and clarifications:

  • researchers used the whole body exposure of animals – this might cause different effects than the localized, head-only exposures that humans are experiencing
  • what caused high mortality of control rats
  • why cancer was induced only in male but not in female rats
  • the carcinogenic effect was apparently observed only in rats but not in mice – this difference/discrepancy needs some clarification

NTP study suggests an increase in the formation of brain cancer – glioma – in male rats. Three sets of the epidemiological case-control studies, European Interphone, Hardell group in Sweden and French CERENAT, have shown an increased risk of developing brain cancer – glioma – in avid, long term users of cell phone (ca. 30 min/day for 10+ years). This similarity between the findings of epidemiological studies and the animal studies – increase in glioma – adds a strength to the conclusions of the NTP study. It also strengthens the calls for the implementation of the Precautionary Principle in the area of cell phones and human health risk. It seems that the human health risk might not only be possible but it might rather be probable, in language of the IARC cell phone radiation could be upgraded from group 2B to group 2A.


15 thoughts on “Leszczynski: A brief comments on the NTP study

  1. Inspite of “…he, and others, and an overwhelming majority of official scientific panels convened on the subject — and, for what it’s worth, me — have concluded that radiowaves do not have health effects and that no precautionary threshold need be invoked…” there are coming studies, after the 2011 IARC indicating probable effects on health (CERENAT, Lerchl’s group, NTP, Schmid & Kuster).

    … and I responded to Tom Whitney and do non need “guardian”…

  2. M. Moir makes reference to the Hiroshima bombing and cancer, but betrays a lack of technical knowledge as to the history of microwaves, a history that invalidates the “it hasn’t been long enough yet” argument. The fact is have been used in the open environment for many applications since before and shortly after Hiroshima. The first radars installed on civilian airliners in the US happened in 1938. Radars have been used for airport traffic control since 1946. They’ve been used for telecommunications links since 1947, and for two-way radio communications systems (base stations and vehicle mounted devices, later also portable devices) since the early 1950s. Paging networks, broadcast television followed in the 1960s. Millions of workers, public safety employees and citizens have been exposed to microwaves for almost 80 years, without an obvious explosion of cancers. How much longer must we wait until we declare the hypothesis dead?

  3. “Robert, the problem is that Gorski and many others…”
    This is simply untrue. Mr. Gorski has written continually on the topic for many years. Not only has he written a comprehensive response on the NTP issue (much more comprehensive than you, sir! 🙂 ), he writes with an understanding of all the major threads of evidence that have gone before. Including all the caveats of the evidence. That is why he, and others, and an overwhelming majority of official scientific panels convened on the subject — and, for what it’s worth, me — have concluded that radiowaves do not have health effects and that no precautionary threshold need be invoked, beyond the sensible advice that many health authorities have already issued out of prudence.

    I note you still have not replied directly to Mr. Whitney’s questions.

  4. I must admit, as a non-scientist, I find any suggestion that our present arrangements honour the precautionary principle at all, baffling.
    Which part of this is wrong: the earth is currently being exposed to man-made radiation which in the microwave band,
    is thousands of billions of times the background level we and all life on this planet evolved in over millions of years. This experiment found increases in cancer rates after one rat life-time or so.
    After Hiroshima it would often take as much as four decades for cancers caused by the ionising radiation to occur. Also cancers from smoking were peaking in the 90,s, when heaviest smoking rates were in the 50,s. On the other hand, the implicit proposition with these new, mostly microwave-based technologies is that the continuing irradiation of most of the planet should continue not for 20 or 30 years, or one human generation or two but forever, for the next 100 lifetimes for starters.
    The precautionary principle makes it clear that the onus of proving safety is on the person bringing the change – in this case for microwave irradiation , NOT on those objecting to prove there is cause to question it.
    So often I am unable to find any merit left in the objections of those questioning “negative” findings with respect to studies in this area when the precautionary principle is properly understood and applied.
    The WHO, who Tom Whitney mentions, singularly fail to apply these principles and are on the whole ,merely expert bureaucratic and politically and industry-influenced spin-doctors on this issue. The same, unfortunately with most regulators.

  5. Robert, the problem is that Gorski and many others speak about NTP study as if it would be done in separation from all other research published to date. Standing alone the rat study is not enough to prove human health risk. However, NTP study, in combination with other animal studies (e.g. Lerchl and co-workers) and epi studies (Interphone, Heardell and co-workers, CERENAT) provides evidence indicating that health risk, in form of increased risk of brain cancer, is probable and the evidence is sufficient to implement the Precautionary Principle.

  6. Pingback: Views on the NTP cell phone cancer study | Smart Meter News

  7. Tom, it is good to hear that you agree there is good reason to implement the Precautionary Principle. The next step is to understand how it should be done and whether organizations claiming to do it already, indeed do it or make a false claim…

  8. If exposure limits are already 18.75 times below the lowest study exposure, and actual exposures are additional factors below that, isn’t precaution already being exercised?

  9. I agree that there is good reason to implement the Precautionary Principle (PP).

    That’s why regulators have already done that. According to Health Canada (HC) “In 2006, the World Health Organization published a document entitled Framework for Developing Health-based EMF Standards (http://www.who.int/peh-emf/standards/framework/en/). The Framework provides advice on how to develop science-based limits that will protect the health of the population from exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

    Health Canada’s guideline development procedures are in line with the guiding principles outlined in the above-mentioned Framework.”

    Therefore, any limits in line with HC limits contain the essense of the PP within them. What you suggest should be done, has already been done. Anything more would be on the basis of socio-political considerations – not on the basis of generally accepted evidence-based science.

  10. Angela – Thanks for the question, this particular detail is not well understood by most people.
    First, here is a link to the FCC bulletin with the full story on exposure limits:

    Click to access oet65.pdf

    In summary, there are two main types of exposure – ‘whole-body’ and ‘partial-body’ – different Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) limits apply to them.

    MPE for the whole-body is SAR 0.08 W/kg, and for the head it is SAR 1.6 W/kg. The rationale is that for head and other partial-body exposures, local deposits of energy can be diffused throughout the whole body; while whole-body exposures have nowhere else to go. In the study discussed here, it has been suggested that the experimental exposures mimic real life human exposures. We have only seen the draft report, so maybe the information or my understanding is incorrect or incomplete. But, if the exposure information is correct, it is whole-body – and it is very much higher than MPE and we should not be surprised to see serious metabolic issues in rodents which have no effective way of shedding the excess heat.

    Divide test SARs by 0.08 to get the factors I quoted.

  11. Pingback: Environmental Health Trust » Blog Archive NIH National Toxicology Program Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation Study - Environmental Health Trust

  12. Hi Tom – the US FCC SAR limit is 1.6W/kg. The exposures used in the experiment were 1.5W/kg (below US SAR), 3W/kg, and 6Wk/g. Please explain how you are calculating 18-75 times the FCC exposure.

  13. Tom, if this study would be standing alone then it would be no a big news. However, when it is analyzed in context of other studies then it becomes big news. It does not yet prove carcinogenicity but it certainly gives a good reason to implement the Precautionary Principle.

  14. You have got to be kidding! A slight increase in incidence in males only, at SARs that are 18,75, 37.5 and 75 times the FCC maximum permissible exposure. And further strengthened by three epidemiological studies with totally unreliable exposure assessment?

    This news is not a bombshell – it’s a dud!

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