Radiation fears prompt possible restrictions on wi-fi and mobile phone use in schoolsBMJ 2011; 342 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d3428 (Published 01 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3428
All rapid responses
I don't know what it is about some modern technologies that
encourages bad statistics and overly risk averse approaches. Maybe mobile
phones really do rot the brain and the first sense that goes is the
ability to judge statistics.
But the reported study that 80% of cancers in some Brazilian city
occur in people who live within 1,500 feet of a base station is one of
those stats that sounds worrying only because there is no context. I can't
access or translate the original, but the reported stat is the one that
has been reproduced in english.
A piece of context: the average person in London, UK is never more
than 100-150m (about 300-500 feet) from a base station. Maybe we are all
doomed or maybe we should demand a better standard from lobbyists when
quoting statistics about risk. It wouldn't surprise me if more than 80% of
the population in Brazilian cities lived inside that radius.
Competing interests: I have worked for PA Consulting for more than a decade. Clients of this global management consulting firm, headquartered in the UK, have included the Department of Health, NHS providers and NHS commissioners. PA Also works for clients in the Mobile technology industry.The views expressed here are personal opinions and not those of PA Consulting.
Kevin S O'Neill, Neurosurgeon
Charing Cross Hospital: God bless you for your courage in rising to the
documented dangers of EMF via WiFi, cell phones, computers, baby monitors
and cell towers. All were covered in the 2B category by the IARC.
Adilza Condessa Dode has just had her study published showing
that 80% of the cancer deaths in a major Brazilian city were linked to
residing within 1500 feet of a cell tower. Data taken over a ten year
span, tied 4924 cancer deaths direction to the cell towers.
Here in the US, we are still at the mercy of Telecom spin that took
the IARC classification apart: "As dangerous as pickled vegetables and
So, again, God bless you!
Competing interests: No competing interests
You reported (BMJ 2011;342:d3428) on the Council of Europe’s recommendation that children be protected from the electro-magnetic radiation emitted by wireless equipment in schools.
Since then, the International Agency for Research into Cancer (IARC) has classified such radiation as a possible carcinogen.
The evidence for children’s particular vulnerability is accumulating. Most recently a study by the University of Orebro, published in the International Journal of Oncology (Int J Oncol. 2011 May;38(5):1465-74) found almost a fivefold increase of astrocytoma among subjects who started mobile phone use before the age of 20.
Since the Council of Europe has little influence over national health policy and the IARC classification will take time to translate into practical advice, we as medical practitioners and professional bodies have a role in ensuring timely action is taken to protect children.
Previous public health threats (tobacco, asbestos, x-rays) indicate that the evidence of risk often increases as research progresses. Given a latency lag of up to 20 years for many tumours, we are in danger of repeating these public health disasters.
We have an opportunity now to help public health agencies navigate this complex area of unquantified risk .
We should encourage the adoption of proportionate safety measures, mindful of the benefits of mobile phone technology but reflecting the potentially serious risks, particularly for children.
Kevin O’Neill FRCS (SN)
Consultant Neurosurgeon, Charing Cross Hospital
Trustee of MobileWise and Brain Tumour Research Campaign
Competing interests: none declared