New Studies, Cellphone Manufacturer Legalese Revive Brain Cancer Debate

Well, crap. Looks like cellphones cause brain cancer again.

Or do they? Blarg!

The latest troubling study, and companies' own cellphone instruction manuals, says they might. Again.

Randall Stross, writing for the New York Times reports on the latest "do they or don't they?" findings:

But the legal departments of cellphone manufacturers slip a warning about holding the phone against your head or body into the fine print of the little slip that you toss aside when unpacking your phone. Apple, for example, doesn't want iPhones to come closer than 5/8 of an inch; Research In Motion, BlackBerry's manufacturer, is still more cautious: keep a distance of about an inch.

Continuing on, Stross writes that the manufacturer's consumer guidelines were brought to his attention by Devra Davis, an epidemiologist and author of "Disconnect," a book on cellphone radiation. Overall, the average number of brain-related cancer cases has not increased since the introduction of cellphones to society. That said, there's a caveat: brain cancer in the 20-to-29 age group has actually increased in that period, while dropping in the older population. Confusing!

Furthermore, Henry Lai, a researcher with the University of Washington, currently maintains a database of 400 papers related to radiofrequency radiation and damaged brain DNA. What has he found in all that data?

He found that 28% of studies with cellphone industry funding showed some sort of effect, while 67% of studies without such funding did so. "That's not trivial," he said.

As always, these researchers say you can mitigate your risk by using hands free headsets, the phone's speaker, or texting. But don't you dare keep that phone in your pocket for too long! That can cause radiation-related mutation too! Gah! My potentially tumor-filled head is spinning!

Whatever the case may be, I'm going to continue to text while driving my car. That's still safe, right?

Image: A supporter of San Francisco's new law to require cellphone retailers to disclose radiation levels wears a button during a recent hearing at City Hall. [New York Times]