The NTP-study: Predictions gone awry…

Looking back, at some scientific predictions made a few years ago, might show that the future might have surprises for us.

This happened with predictions about the possible outcome of the NTP study made by two esteemed experts, C. K. Chou and Joe Elder, both still then, in 2009 working for Motorola.

In my first ever blog, From China with Love, I wrote about my work in China and about the conference I helped to organize in Hangzhou. During the conference I had an exchange of opinions with C. K. Chou concerning the use of the term “weight of evidence”. My opinion was that this term is being wrongly used to dismiss positive studies, showing effects of RF-EMF. C. K. Chou disagreed.

Here is the pertinent exchange of opinions between me, writing in my blog, and C.K. Chou who submitted comment in response to my blog. The interesting twist is that we discussed the possible outcome of the NTP study and its potential impact [bold font added by DL]:

Leszczynski: “One renowned scientist, C. K. Chou of Motorola, had stated that the newly designed, and about to start in the USA, large animal study is unlikely to have impact on science concerning mobile phone effects because of the “weight of evidence” provided by the earlier published studies. In short it means that, in his opinion, even well designed, well executed state-of-the-art study with best available radiation exposure dosimetry, is not sufficient to cause any change in thinking about mobile phone radiation effects. Why? Because the earlier published studies, of which many were poorly designed or executed or had poor dosimetry design, provide “weight of evidence” against any effects. In the discussion period, my question to Dr. Chou was whether, in order to make any impact, we need to produce another large number of new studies to overcome the already existing “weight of evidence”. I did not get any straight answer but just a defensive statement that the “weight of evidence” is a commonly used approach. Yes, it is commonly used and commonly abused. Single well done study is not enough but also a bunch of poor studies should not be enough too.”

C.K. Chou: “… I did not say “…even well designed, well executed state-of-the-art study with best available radiation exposure dosimetry, is not sufficient to cause any change in thinking about mobile phone radiation effects.” I said we have to take the whole data base to make the judgment based on the weight of evidence. I also showed the definition of “Weight of Evidence” the next day in my IEEE standards talk. Every piece of study must be judged by its own value, and added to the weight of evidence. Since the NTP study is not done yet, I cannot predict the results; however, it is logical to think that the results [of the NTP study] will support the current weight of evidence because of the high quality of a number of the 44 tumor studies. Elder’s analysis shows “The weight of scientific evidence in 44 tumor studies shows that RF exposure up to lifetime exposure (2 years) does not adversely affect carcinogenic processes (initiation, promotion or co-promotion)”. It will take a few very convincing positive animal studies to show the large number of previous animal studies were wrong. So Joe’s conclusion says “it is unlikely that the results of ongoing animal cancer studies will shift the weight of evidence.…”

It is clear that the predictions, made by C. K. Chou and Joe Elder in 2009 about the outcome of the NTP study, went awry. But, reading over the last weekend numerous news media reports, one gets the feeling that numerous scientists, disagreeing with the outcome of the NTP study, tend to dismiss meaning and impact of it and trivialize the significance of the observed effects.

Kudos to the NTP scientists who, seeing the correlation of the animal study with case.control epidemiology studies, dared to announce the partial result of the NTP study.

The reality is as Chris Portier, a former associate director of the US NTP said:

“The findings should be a wake-up call for the scientific establishment. I think this is a game changer.  We seriously have to look at this issue again in considerable detail.”


2 thoughts on “The NTP-study: Predictions gone awry…

  1. Here is a citation from the very serious paper by Chou et al., Long-Term, Low-Level Microwave Irradiation of Rats, Bioelectromagnetics 13:469-496 (1 992):
    “The finding of a near fourfold increase of primary malignancies in the exposed
    animals is provocative”. The high quality research reported in this paper showed a dramatic and statistically significant increase of cancer in the group of rats exposed to microwave radiation. The NTP research seems to support those important results of Chou.
    Michael Peleg

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