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The Connection Between Cellphones And Cancer47:14
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An unidentified man talks on his cell phone outside a hearing  before the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee concerning cell phone safety, in Augusta, Maine, on Tuesday, March 2, 2010. (Pat Wellenbach/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
An unidentified man talks on his cell phone outside a hearing before the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee concerning cell phone safety, in Augusta, Maine, on Tuesday, March 2, 2010. (Pat Wellenbach/AP)

With Jane Clayson

Big Tobacco lied about cigarettes. Is Big Wireless lying about cell phones? We’ll look at the cancer-cell phone connection.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this show incorrectly described the creator of a YouTube video. The woman was 33 at the time the video was made, not a teenager.

Guests:

Mark Hertsgaard, investigative editor for The Nation and co-author of the magazine's April 28 cover story, How Big Wireless Made Us Think That Cell Phones Are Safe: A Special Investigation. Author of seven books, the latest of which is "Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing In The Age Of Snowden." (@markhertsgaard)

Jerry Phillips, biochemist and director of the Excel Science Center at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

Reading List:

The Nation: How Big Wireless Made Us Think That Cell Phones Are Safe: A Special Investigation.

Scientific American: New Studies Link Cell Phone Radiation with Cancer -- "New studies show a correlation in lab rats, but the evidence may not resolve ongoing debates over causality or whether any effects arise in people."

Cell phone radiation is perfectly safe, right? That’s what the wireless industry says. But an investigation by The Nation magazine raises questions. Big Wireless, it reports, stole the playbook from Big Tobacco and Big Oil—with its own scientists privately warning about the risks, years ago.

This hour, On Point: Big Wireless and the cell phone cancer risk. And later in the hour, dangerous trend of teens and vaping.

--Jane Clayson

Statement from CTIA, the wireless industry association:

“We were pleased to see this acknowledgement in the Nation’s article: 'This article does not argue that cell phones and other wireless technologies are necessarily dangerous; that is a matter for scientists to decide.' We agree. That’s why the wireless industry follows the guidance and regulations issued by the FDA, the FCC, and other experts when it comes to cellphones and health effects. Following numerous scientific studies conducted over several decades, the FCC, the FDA, the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society and numerous other international and U.S. organizations and health experts continue to say that the scientific evidence shows no known health risk to humans due to the RF energy emitted by cellphones. The evidence includes analysis of official federal brain tumor statistics showing that since the introduction of cellphones in the mid-1980s, the rate of brain tumors in the United States has decreased.

No cell phone or antenna may be lawfully sold or deployed in the U.S. without being certified as compliant with the FCC’s emission limits. On February 2, 2018, the FDA’s director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health issued a statement concluding that based on the “hundreds of studies from which to draw a wealth of information” the research “taken together” gives the FDA “confidence that the current safety limits for cell phone radiation remain acceptable for protecting the public health.”

Many assertions in the Nation’s article are not factually accurate and mischaracterize the science. For example, the article suggests the cell phone industry disregarded the work conducted under Dr. Carlo’s research program in the 1990s. The federal government investigated those claims and provided an objective analysis of that work, which the Nation article ignores. Specifically, the U.S. General Accounting Office (now known as the General Accountability Office or GAO, an independent, nonpartisan government agency that works for Congress), noted that after Dr. Carlo’s program ended, CTIA and the FDA entered into a “cooperative research and development agreement” (CRADA) in which the FDA followed-up on the studies “that had raised questions, as well as assess what further research might be needed.”

After undertaking this research effort, the FDA concluded: 'All studies funded through the CRADA have been completed, and no association was found between exposure to radiofrequency (RF) radiation from cell phones and adverse health effects.'"

This program aired on April 5, 2018.

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