Via Skeptic North, good news for the side of science in the ongoing manufactroversy driven by people who are deathly afraid of wireless technology. A new meta-analysis of prior studies shows no link, causal or otherwise, between cellular phone usage and any of the forms of cancer commonly claimed by anti-wifi advocates. I’m sure this won’t stop them from repeating their claims that there must be damage if only we look at specific variations of the EMF spectrum.
We are constantly reminded of the failure of society to recognize the dangers of tobacco, let alone do something about it, and the industry led effort to suppress information and increase uncertainty in the pubic is held up as proof that all industries will stop at no lengths to protect their investment, despite dangers to the public. In the face of this, we need a scientific outlook to unblinker us from determining an unbiased truth. A new systematic review published in October’s Bioelectromagnetics is an excellent illustration of how we determine causality.
Rapacholi et al set out to systematically review the current knowledge of the effects of cell phones on brain cancer from the two major avenues used to determine causality: epidemiology and in vivo experiments (done in living animals). Through a very comprehensive systematic review format, where all of the studies matching a pre-determined set of criteria are evaluated for their quality and conclusions are drawn given all of the evidence, the researchers sought to lay out the state of the evidence for any connection between the use of cell phones and the incidence of several types of cancerous tumors in the head. They used all studies published in peer-reviewed journals up until January 2010, so they did not include the newest Danish epidemiological study, which showed no relationship between cell phones and cancer.
The authors found a consistent disagreement between all of the epidemiological studies and the results of Hardell et al, with the theme of this disagreement being poor study design and control of recall bias – the bias that creeps in when you ask a group of disease suffers to write down their exposure to a possible causative agent over many years of use – I do not know about you, but there is no way that I could accurately recall the amount of cell phone use I had 10 years ago without consulting a bill. Hardell is indicted consistently throughout the paper for having poor study design and was accorded less weight than the other more rigorous studies that were based on objective usage data or took extensive measures to investigate bias in their study, like the Interphone study (a new iteration of which has found no relation between cell phone use and acoustic neuromas).
What’s fascinating about this post is that it’s still drawing out the “you’re in Big Wireless’ pay” trolls. Our friends and allies at Skeptic North could probably do with an assist from you gentle readers.