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Communications Science

Study Shows Cell Phones Safe 210

Posted by Zonk
from the safe-for-our-human-brains dept.
PreacherTom writes "In a move worthy of the Mythbusters, scientists in Denmark tracked over 420,000 cell phone users over the course of 21 years in an attempt to determine if the urban legend that cell phone use causes cancer is true. Their results: the RF energy produced by the phones did not correlate to an increased incidence of the disease. Please note that this doesn't make chatting on the highway at 85 mph any more safe." From the article: 'This so-called Danish cohort "is probably the strongest study out there because of the outstanding registries they keep,' said Joshua Muscat of Pennsylvania State University, who also has studied cell phones and cancer. 'As the body of evidence accumulates, people can become more reassured that these devices are safe, but the final word is not there yet,' Muscat added."
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Study Shows Cell Phones Safe

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  • by topham (32406) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:27PM (#17154678) Homepage
    why start now?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Sunburnt (890890)
      Hey, maybe the Danes are just resistant to brain tumors! You can't say you don't know for sure!

      ***

      sigh...
      • by trewornan (608722)
        Scientific studies have proven that bacon, mouldy cheese and lager make you immune to sub-thermal interactions . . . sheesh, some people don't know nothin'
    • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @07:09PM (#17155364) Homepage Journal
      One study does not a conclusion make. Usually, in scientific research, you need three independent studies before most scientists will draw a conclusion.

      My question is - who paid for this study? Was it Nokia (caveat, I own shares in them) or some other cell phone firm?
      • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @08:29PM (#17156530)
        > One study does not a conclusion make.

        That depends on the study...most importantly, on its size. 21 years and 450,000 subjects makes for a pretty damn solid conclusion. And where are the studies that show any other conclusion?

        Chris Mattern
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Dabido (802599)
          'And where are the studies that show any other conclusion?'

          This one was reported by slashdot some time ago. The Swedish Cell Phone Study [slashdot.org] said there was a 240% incerease in risk for heavy users.

          It was done over ten years, and was considered better than previous studies. I think this debate is not over yet, and we'll probably see more studies claiming cancer causing and non-cancer causing over the next ten years plus till something completely conclusive happens, or we humans start using a new form of c
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        you need three independent studies before most scientists will draw a conclusion
        Could you show me the three independent studies that prove this fact?

        Actually, what has been more often proved is that it doesn't matter how many studies you do - some people are terminally clue resistant and will continue to believe whatever the hell they feel like [wikipedia.org] regardless of evidence.
      • by ceoyoyo (59147)
        What are you talking about? Studies are judged on their statistical significance and the quality of the design. I hate to tell you, but virtually all of the drugs you take are the result of essentially one study. Sure, there are animal studies and small "this drug won't actually kill you most of the time" studies, but there's ONE to figure out if it works or not. Same for surgical techniques.
      • by pong (18266) on Friday December 08, 2006 @04:15AM (#17159834) Homepage
        The study was paid for by the Danish Cancer Society [cancer.dk]. Trust me when I say they are not influenced by Nokia or any other operator in the mobile telephone market. The organization is extremely well regarded and has a spotless reputation in Denmark.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      What I can't figure out is how Bush managed to pull this one off. He's awfully crafty for being such a fucktard.
  • by 7macaw (933316) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:30PM (#17154726)
    I carry my cell phone in my pants pocket. Is it safe?
  • by Lunar_Lamp (976812) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:32PM (#17154762) Homepage
    Even the summary of the article doesn't agree with the title of the article. Whilst I am of the opinion that mobile phones are safe, it is impossible to prove it. It is possible to demonstrate that it is almost certainly not the case, but it is impossible to demonstrate to a mathematical certainty that mobile phones (or any other treatment, e.g. medication, having blonde hair, being called Fred) is safe.
    • And what of it? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:47PM (#17154996)
      That's true with anything, including that what you see is real. I don't have the time or the energy to teach you basic philosophy but this is not a new debate. Descartes thought about it, and many have after him. For the best modern thought on how scientific method works and how we prove things empirically, get the Logic of Scientific Discovery by Karl Popper.
    • by ADRA (37398)
      Don't worry about it. The cell phone's transmitter won't kill you. Its the cell tower broadcasting to every man, woman, and child. That's why there isn't a correlation =)
  • ... is now safe!
  • Somtimes... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Sometimes you need more than a staggering, howling lack of cancer-causation evidence to convince the alties.
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:36PM (#17154834) Homepage
    causes cancer.

    Hey, at least there's a mechanism. Stress has been implicated in contributing to a lot of other diseases, why not cancer?

  • by D4rk Fx (862399) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:37PM (#17154842) Homepage
    They didn't take into effect the amount of vehicular accidents that are caused by inattentive cell phone drivers. This is probably the most unsafe aspect of them
  • by camperdave (969942) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:43PM (#17154946) Journal
    Knowing Mythbusters, they had to somehow crank up a cell phone to a ludicrous level to induce cancer. Poor Buster! Still, it might make for an interesting episode.
  • by mollymoo (202721) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:46PM (#17154990) Journal
    In a move worthy of the Mythbusters, [...]

    If I had an important paper published in a respected scientific journal and someone told me my work was 'worthy of the Mythbusters' I'd punch them in the face.

    • by Vellmont (569020) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @07:14PM (#17155458) Homepage
      Obviously this study has a lot more scientific integrity than what the Mythbusters do, but to say that what they do isn't science just isn't true.

      Mythbusters is probbably the only show on TV that actually DOES science and shows what it is rather than just acting as a mouthpiece for science. The do everything that other scientists do, albiet within the confines of a television show. They repeat experiments, they accept "peer review", they establish controls. They do everything but publish a paper in a journal. Tell me how what the Mythbusters do isn't science?

      It might not be something you'd want to site in a research paper, so it's not really up to the standards of acadamia, but calling what they do not science is simply wrong.
      • Completely (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hamster Lover (558288) *
        You have to remember that many times Jamie and Adam are looking for aggregate effects and not the minute differences that professional scientists are looking to find. A lot of professional science is attmepting to increase the resolution or accuracy of previous experiments. Hurricanes and straw, crashing cars, exploding cell phones, most of these experiments are more concerned with specificity than sensitivity, i.e. whether a particular event does or does not occur rather than to what degree.

        Just like scien
      • by geekoid (135745)
        the few episodes I have seen the lacked a control.

        Damn fun show.

      • by mollymoo (202721)
        I knew I should have changed that title the moment I posted. My original message, like the title, was overly harsh. Mythbusters do perform scientific studies some of the time. Compared to most of the rest of what's on TV it's a beacon of hope for those of us with a scientific bent, though that says more about the rest of TV than it does Mythbusters. Generally though, they perform unscientific tests in as spectacular a way as possible in order to entertain. It's entertainment with a hint of science, rather t
      • by ceoyoyo (59147)
        The Mythbusters claim to do science, but often aren't. Misrepresenting what science is, is worse than not doing it at all.

        Now, they're getting dramatically better. The episode I watched today they actually repeated their experiment a few times. Then they took the results to an actual statistician who told them their results weren't significant. Of course, then they went on to talk about how they'd seen a small difference, but not as big as the myth would indicate.

        So they're learning, but they've got a w
      • by radtea (464814)
        They do everything but publish a paper in a journal.

        They actually do more than that--they often show stuff that does not work. In my applied physics papers I always try to include a section called "Things that did not work so well". Referees sometimes kick at the language, but the spirit is correct: every paper should include at least a mention of the stuff the experimenter tried that did not pan out, because if it seemed like a good idea to YOU, it is going to seem like a good idea to others, and by men
    • They may not have all the glamour of a white lab coat and a zillion dollar lab, but Adam and Jamie have put together some rather credible experiments.

      For example, with the helium football myth, where a football filled with helium apparently will kick farther than one filled with air, they took a collection of standard footballs into a large indoor room to eliminate the effect of wind and kicked and threw them in customized machines to eliminate any human bias, then took their collected data to a professiona
  • by troll -1 (956834) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:50PM (#17155050)
    Please note that this doesn't make chatting on the highway at 85 mph any more safe.

    Or perhaps any less safe than chatting with a passenger while drinking a soda at 85 mph, unless we have data to show otherwise.
    • Chatting with a passenger is a bit different from chatting with someone not in the vehicle.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by svnt (697929)
      This [siu.edu], this [utah.edu] and other minor studies seem to suggest otherwise. It seems that the brain doesn't do as well at multitasking when it has to infer all social information about a conversation from a low-quality audio stream. Doesn't seem very surprising when expressed that way, does it?
  • by thirty-seven (568076) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:52PM (#17155102)
    This is not at all a "move worthy of MythBusters" as the submitter stated. Mythbusters is entertaining and generally informative television, and this Danish study sounds solid, but the methodologies are totally different, for the obvious reason that sifting through hundreds of thousands of medical records accumulated over many years and applying complex statistical models to them does not make for compelling television.
    • by hmccabe (465882)

      for the obvious reason that sifting through hundreds of thousands of medical records accumulated over many years and applying complex statistical models to them does not make for compelling television.

      I don't know. Have you ever watched Nova?

    • by strider44 (650833)
      I think that it was simply talking about how it's busting a myth rather than giving a deep, detailed comparison on how similar the methodologies are. For some reason I think you're reading slightly too much into those six words.
  • by bananaendian (928499) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @06:54PM (#17155128) Homepage Journal
    What about [wikipedia.org]
    1. non-thermal effects,
    2. alpha and delta brain waves,
    3. non-linear interactions,
    4. resonance,
    5. gene expression mechanisms,
    6. production of heat shock proteins,
    7. electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome
      and other bullshit.

    People want to believe in this stuff cause it sounds dangerous. Advocacy groups get funding, lawyers make money, politicians can scare people. Who's gonna listen to a bunch of boring Danish statistics?

    Even the WHO subscribes to the 'precautionary principle'. Forget about it - its all futile! [webhotel.tut.fi]

    • What a HUGE crock! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @11:23PM (#17158122)
      People want to believe in this stuff cause it sounds dangerous. Advocacy groups get funding, lawyers make money, politicians can scare people. Who's gonna listen to a bunch of boring Danish statistics?

      Wow. I've come across some biased Wikipedia articles before, but the one you referenced sets a new low. It's current version, (with a single exception in non-bolded typeface buried in a paragraph), only mentioned studies which illustrate the safety of cell phone tech, and it does this using bolded headline entries. This is a shamefully poor representation of the available data on the subject. The article also fails to mention any of the many cases of conflict of interest which pollute many of the studies which claim safety. That's just pathetic and Wikipedia needs a solid re-write on this one.

      I don't think the claims being made are bullshit, as you suggest, and I certainly am not motivated in my opinions because I like 'dangerous' sounding things. I just don't trust the telcos or the military, and there is plenty of reason not to. Anybody who argues differently is, in my opinion, either ignorant or willfully ignorant. It's the second variety of ignorance which baffles me.


      -FL

  • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @07:07PM (#17155330)

    >'As the body of evidence accumulates, people can become more reassured that these devices are safe, but the final word is not there yet,' Muscat added."

    I am just flipping appalled at the number of people in academia who have not internalized the concept that You Can't Prove A Fucking Negative! Can you prove that Neandertals are extinct? Can you prove that space aliens aren't controlling Bush and Blair with mind rays? Hell no! People seem to spend a huge amount of time worrying about shit that just might maybe could be true because, even though there is absofuckinglutely no evidence FOR it. On the other hand, they will blithely put up with 50,000 automobile deaths per year in the US and god knows how many deaths from tobacco and alcohol. Sheesh!

    Speaking of which, I think I'll go have a medicinal gin and tonic and calm down.

    • You Can't Prove A Fucking Negative!

      Sure you can. I can easily prove that I'm not in Fiji right now. The oft touted axiom that "you can't prove a negative" is a bad short hand for "you can't prove the universal non-existence of something". The key word is really 'universal' not 'negative'.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lamasquerade (172547)
      An appropriate subject line;) But I have to point you to this [infidels.org] article.

      You are right to be frustrated by the kind of reasoning that the OP was using, but not because it's impossible to prove a negative, but because it is impossible to completely prove anything so broad as 'Mobile phones do not cause cancer'. The article talks about taking the best bet, which is just looking at the evidence which is of course what everyone does every day with just about every action.

      Pedantry regarding provability is pointless

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)
      True, but you can show that you should be worrying about getting hit by a car crossing the street to pick up more cornflakes, or getting drilled by a meteorite, or accidentally stepping on a rattlesnake, slipping, falling into an open sewer, getting washed into a lake and then scooped up by a water bomber, because they're all more likely than getting cancer from your cell phone.
  • 'As the body of evidence accumulates, people can become more reassured that these devices are safe, but the final word is not there yet,' Muscat added.

    I would think not. If the final word was "there", the government would have no reason to continue funding his research. One thing I've noticed about these kinds of studies is the automatic "... but more study is needed" caveat at the end of every article. Perhaps I'm getting cynical in my old age, but is it really possible that no scientific study is ever

  • by deal99 (170674) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @10:00PM (#17157390)
    Is there any European that does not use a cell phone?
  • by patio11 (857072) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @10:19PM (#17157582)
    ... then we would be talking about the nation of Japan in the past tense. I rest my case.
  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Thursday December 07, 2006 @11:49PM (#17158326)
    It never was.

    It's about fuzzing the brain.

    Please pardon the bold face, but it seems this subject calls for it. . .

    The blood-brain barrier becomes permeable when exposed to EM cell phone frequencies. This is shown by injecting dye into the blood of rats and exposing them to cell phone EM. The short version: control groups don't end up with dyed brains while the exposed groups do. This experiment has been repeated numerous times.

    --Now aside from an artificially permeable blood-brain barrier making your brain more susceptible to whatever agents happen to be in your blood at the time, the really interesting question people should be instantly asking is, "How does cell phone EM cause this to happen?"

    And better yet, "What OTHER cellular responses are stimulated by cell phone EM?"

    This isn't rocket science. It's simply a matter of taking the data as it comes, remembering it as you read more articles, and applying it in a logical fashion to form more questions.

    Why the heck is everybody so caught up by the Cancer question when there is OBVIOUSLY something else important going on?


    -FL

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer

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