New review study finds that heavier cell phone use increases tumor risk
Author: Joel Moskowitz PhD
Published: March 24, 2021
In: Safer EMR, Joel Moskowitz’s blog about Electromagnetic Radiation Safety
Cellular Phone Use and Risk of Tumors: Is ICNIRP “war-gaming the science”?
The Telecom industry has been “war-gaming the science” since 1994 (Microwave News, January/February 1997; p. 13). In 2019, Investigate Europe, a team of journalists, published 22 news articles in eight countries that alleged the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has serious conflicts of interest. Moreover, these journalists reported that in order to defend ICNIRP’s weak radio frequency (RF) exposure limits which are widely promoted by the World Health Organization, members of ICNIRP have been actively engaged in a campaign to undermine the credibility of peer-reviewed science that finds low-intensity RF radiation is harmful (http://bit.ly/ICNIRPcoi).
Last November my colleagues and I published a systematic review and meta-analysis of the case-control research on mobile phone use and tumor risk in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) (Choi et al., 2020). This study updated our earlier meta-analysis which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (Myung et al., 2009). The takeaway message from our new study is we found evidence that linked cellular phone use to increased tumor risk. Based on our meta-analysis, 1,000 or more hours of cell phone use, or about 17 minutes per day over 10 years, was associated with a statistically significant 60% increase in brain tumor risk.
Shortly after our paper was published by IJERPH, de Vocht and Röösli (2021) submitted a letter to the editor that criticized our paper. Martin Röösli is one of the 14 members of the ICNIRP Commission.
My colleagues and I drafted a comprehensive reply that debunked the largely specious claims made by de Vocht and Röösli. The journal submitted the letter and our reply to peer review.
The two reviewers agreed with us that the de Vocht and Röösli letter made untenable arguments. Moreover, one reviewer called the letter a “scientifically unfounded attack on the Hardell group studies.” He also noted that, “Röösli does not report his membership in ICNIRP as a potential conflict of interest.”
The journal’s editors decided not to publish the letter due to the two negative peer reviews. Although we understood there was no point in publishing our reply to an unpublished letter, we were disappointed since we had devoted considerable time in writing our response to the letter.
Then, this February a second letter attacking our review paper was submitted to IJERPH. The senior author of this letter, Ken Karipidis, is also a current member of the ICNIRP Commission. Although this letter was shorter, it contained unfounded claims similar to those which appeared in the first letter. Since we did not want to waste our time only to experience the same outcome again, we asked the editor to have the second letter peer-reviewed and decide whether to publish the letter before we prepared a reply.
Instead, the journal decided to ignore the two negative peer reviews of the first letter and publish the de Vocht and Röösli letter along with our reply. The journal also published the peer reviewers’ comments.
I believe the journal made the right decision to bring into the light of day the “unfounded” claims of de Vocht and Röösli’s letter. These allegations have been part of a long-term “whisper campaign” to discredit the work of a long-standing critic of ICNIRP. Hopefully, our reply and the peer reviewers’ comments will put an end to this slander.
Links to these open-access documents: in the article as published here.
The research team