FDA typically vague about cell phones and brain tumor research

Hard Sell

Great news! There is no evidence linking cell phone use to brain tumor risk.

What a relief!

But…uh oh…that great news comes from the same people who brought you “Vioxx is safe,” and “Keep using Avandia.”

Yep–the FDA

So if the FDA is assuring us that cell phones don’t cause brain tumors, my response is: “Gulp!”

At face value, the FDA report is actually reassuring.

It’s based on a series of international studies called Interphone, coordinated by the World Health Organization. According to WHO officials, Interphone is the largest study to examine cell use and brain cancer, and includes the largest number of users with at least 10 years of radiofrequency exposure from cell phones.

And here’s the FDA’s quick summary of the results: “The study reported little or no risk of brain tumors for most long-term users of cell phones.”

Okay…wait a second. The FDA spin doctors titled their press release “No Evidence Linking Cell Phone Use to Risk of Brain Tumors.” But then they say there’s “little or no risk.”

So, which is it? Little risk, or no risk? And “for most long-term users”? That sounds to me like people ARE at risk if they can’t pry the cell away from their ear. And I know LOTS of people like that. I’ll bet you do too.

The FDA does this sort of thing all the time. When it comes to delivering news that might be unpleasant for giant corporations (such as Pfizer, or Lilly, or (in this case) Sprint, or ATT) they’re as vague as a schoolboy who doesn’t want to show his mother a bad report card.

Brain dangers

A New York Times article covered the same study and revealed some VERY important points missing from the FDA version.

For starters, Interphone subjects who used cell phones the most had a 40 percent higher risk of giloma, the same type of brain tumor that Senator Kennedy died from. But in FDA World, this is not “evidence” because it doesn’t prove that cell use caused the tumors.

That’s a pretty thin slice of comfort. And the comfort disappears completely when you hear from those who worked on Interphone.

The Times reports that several Interphone researchers told Microwave News that giloma risk among long-term users was larger toward the end of the study.

And Elisabeth Cardis–leader of the Interphone project– said, “Overall, my opinion is that the results show a real effect.”

Which is pretty much the EXACT OPPOSITE of the FDA press release title.

Hmmm…it’s almost as if FDA officials WANTED to obscure the danger. Which would not be exactly shocking. After all, it is one of the things they do best.

One quick side note: The Times refers to the FDA as a “health group.” As you can imagine, THAT had me laughing.

Drug industry shill–absolutely. Protector of the corporate status quo–without question. But a health group?

When flying pigs use cell phones.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson


“No Evidence Linking Cell Phone Use to Risk of Brain Tumors” FDA Consumer Update, 5/17/10, fda.gov
“Questions About Cellphones and Brain Tumors” Tara Parker- Pope, New York Times, 5/18/10, well.blogs.nytimes.com

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