Partial findings published by The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) assured to have proven a link between cell-phone radiation and cancer. The study was carried out in lab rats which developed two different types of tumors.

Researchers divided these mice into two groups and exposed one of them to the levels of cell phone radiation that a human usually receives. After that, the team compared the exposed groups with a control group to find out the differences this two could have, according to the study published in BioRxiv.

The damage to the dna molecules is thought to be the cause.
The damage to the DNA molecules is thought to be the cause. The radiation that a cell phone uses has been proven to damage some parts of the brain. Image Credit: Digital Trends

It was determined that the radiation-exposed group presented two types of tumors such as malignant gliomas in the brain and schwannomas of the heart. The team considered the findings of particular interest and a reason to publish some previews of the study.

The study itself was largely criticized by many experts who assured the research to be insufficient actually to call out for a health threat. According to Chris Adami, a professor of physics and microbiology at Michigan State University, it is remotely possible that cell phone radiation could have some biological effect by heating fat and protein molecules, just as a microwave oven uses low-frequency waves to cook food.

However, Adami said, there is no known mechanism by which heating would lead to cancer in rats or people. Researchers should have set a very high bar of evidence before they announced a threat to public health, he added.

Rats tend to get cancer commonly without any extra help, Adami said. So if the cell phone radiation caused these rats cancer, what it is expected to see the usual number of cases in the control group and an excess in the one subject to the radiation, he said.

As a result, the study did not present either cancer in the controls groups and the healthy number of gliomas and schwannomas in the exposed group. Researchers could not explain the inconsistency, not the fact that the control mice died younger than the exposed ones, Adami said.

Also, the professor also commented on the fact that the study was done by a toxicologist and not by cancer researchers. According to Adami, the specialized in cancer would have looked for signs that the radiation had some relevant biological influence.

Game changer factor for mobile carrier companies

The study was referred as ‘game changer’ by some researchers who were surprised by the findings, although the team is not the one to ever present a link between the radiation in cellphones and cancer. The World Health Organization said cellphones might cause cancer back in 2011, as reported by Motherboard.

Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society and who introduced the study as “game changer”, claimed that it the results are backed up, it would be the first time that this kind of low-energy radiation was shown to have any effect on cancer. But Brawley did recognize this is a “really big if”, and even in that case; it would not necessary mean that cell phone radiation causes cancer in people.

An opportunity for some products

Whether if it is true or not that cellphone radiation can cause cancer, which still needs to be proven as many studies assured the opposite, the fact is that there is a growing market for people with these kinds of worries.

Some companies have created phone and tablet cases that claim to protect the body from radiation
Some companies have created phone and tablet cases that claim to protect the body from radiation. Image Credit: Consumer Reports

These products are made from individual metal fibers and can even include a gold-plated antenna that assured to redirect the radiation away.

Companies have even claimed that their sales have been growing over the last years and even more exponentially after the latest study from the NTP came to the surface. One of the companies is WaveWall, which sells anti-radiation cases and focuses specifically on the impact of radiation on reproductive health, like sperm motility, said MotherBoard.

Harry Gardiner, the managing director, said their sales increased by 300 percent over the last year and had a visible spike after the study came out.

“However this additional interest has led to new competitors,” he told Motherboard. “Including many products that have not been as rigorously and independently tested as our products are,” Gardiner added.

But, according to the U.S. government, some of these products against radiation are yet to be tested and approved. Studies have shown that these devices do not work as advertised, stated the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Some of the companies, such as Vortex Bioshield, another anti-radiation specialized company, assured to have sought for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, but their attempts were rejected due to the agency said they did not test products without electronic circuits and batteries.

Although the government agencies claim such products do not work, other solutions have been taken into account. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires cellphone manufacturers to stay within a certain measure of safe exposure to radiation.

Source: BioRxiv