Case-control study on occupational exposure to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields and glioma risk

Exposure to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) was in 2002 classified as a possible human carcinogen, Group 2B, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) at WHO. In the international Interphone study on mobile phone use and glioma risk, glioma was associated with occupational ELF-EMF exposure in recent time windows. The authors concluded that such exposure may play a role in late stage carcinogenesis of glioma.

We assessed life time occupations in case-control studies during 1997-2003 and 2007-2009 on e.g. use of wireless phones and glioma risk. An ELF-EMF Job-Exposure Matrix was used for associating occupations with ELF exposure (μT). Cumulative exposure (μT-years), average exposure (μT), and maximum exposed job (μT) were calculated.

Cumulative exposure gave for astrocytoma grade IV (glioblastoma multiforme) in the time window 1-14 years before diagnosis odds ratio (OR) = 1.9, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.4-2.6, p linear trend <0.001, and in the time window 15+ years OR = 0.9, 95% CI = 0.6-1.3, p linear trend = 0.44 in the highest exposure categories 2.75+ and 6.59+ μT-years, respectively.

We concluded that we found an increased risk in late stage (promotion/progression) of astrocytoma grade IV for occupational ELF-EMF exposure. No statistically significant interaction was found between exposure to ELF-EMF and use of wireless phones (exposure to radiofrequency radiation; RF-EMF). They were independent risk factors for astrocytoma grade IV.

World Health Organization, radiofrequency radiation and health – a hard nut to crack (Review)

In a new article by Dr Lennart Hardell health effects from radiofrequency radiation, ICNIRP and the WHO agenda are discussed. The whole article can be found here, see also abstract below.

Abstract. In May 2011 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated cancer risks from radiofrequency (RF) radiation. Human epidemiological studies gave
evidence of increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma. RF radiation was classified as Group 2B, a possible human carcinogen. Further epidemiological, animal and mechanistic
studies have strengthened the association. In spite of this, in most countries little or nothing has been done to reduce exposure and educate people on health hazards from RF
radiation. On the contrary ambient levels have increased. In 2014 the WHO launched a draft of a Monograph on RF fields and health for public comments. It turned out that five
of the six members of the Core Group in charge of the draft are affiliated with International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), an industry loyal NGO, and
thus have a serious conflict of interest. Just as by ICNIRP, evaluation of non-thermal biological effects from RF radiation are dismissed as scientific evidence of adverse health effects in the Monograph. This has provoked many comments sent to the WHO. However, at a meeting on March 3, 2017 at the WHO Geneva office it was stated that the WHO has no intention to change the Core Group.

 

 

Effects of Mobile Phones on Children’s and Adolescents’ Health: A Commentary

Effects of Mobile Phones on Children’s and Adolescents’ Health: A Commentary

Author: Lennart Hardell

In: Special Section of Child Development. Contemporary Mobile Technology and Child and Adolescent Development, edited by Zheng Yan and Lennart Hardell, May 15, 2017.

Abstract

The use of digital technology has grown rapidly during the last couple of decades. During use, mobile phones and cordless phones emit radiofrequency (RF) radiation. No previous generation has been exposed during childhood and adolescence to this kind of radiation. The brain is the main target organ for RF emissions from the handheld wireless phone. An evaluation of the scientific evidence on the brain tumor risk was made in May 2011 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer at World Health Organization. The scientific panel reached the conclusion that RF radiation from devices that emit nonionizing RF radiation in the frequency range 30 kHz–300 GHz is a Group 2B, that is, a “possible” human carcinogen. With respect to health implications of digital (wireless) technologies, it is of importance that neurological diseases, physiological addiction, cognition, sleep, and behavioral problems are considered in addition to cancer. Well-being needs to be carefully evaluated as an effect of changed behavior in children and adolescents through their interactions with modern digital technologies.

Discussion

In spite of the IARC evaluation little has happened to reduce exposure to RF fields in most countries. The exposure guideline used by many agencies was established in 1998 by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and was based on thermal (heating) effects from RF radiation neglecting non-thermal biological effects. It was updated in 2009 and still gives the guideline 2 to 10 W/m2 for RF radiation depending on frequency.

In contrast to ICNIRP the BioInitiative Report from 2007, updated in 2012, based the evaluation also on non-thermal health effects from RF radiation. The scientific benchmark for possible health risks was defined to be 30 to 60 µW/m2.  Thus, using the significantly higher guideline by ICNIRP gives a ‘green card’ to roll out the digital technology thereby not considering non-thermal health effects from RF radiation. Numerous health hazards are disregarded such as cancer, neurological diseases, psychological addiction, cognition, sleep and behavioral problems.

For obvious reasons the extent and severity of long-term health effects among children and adolescents using this technology are not know. However, there are already numerous peer-reviewed studies showing health hazards from wireless devices. Urgent action using the precautionary principle is needed.

Pentachlorophenol is a human carcinogen, Group 1

In October 2016 18 scientists met at IARC for evaluation of pentachlorophenol (PCP) as a human carcinogen. The panel classified PCP as ‘carcinogenic to humans’ Group 1. PCP is a persistent organic pollutant under the Stockholm Convention. Chlorophenols, mostly PCP, have been used as wood preservatives. The use was banned in Sweden in 1978 with few exceptions. Wood impregnated with PCP may still entail a health hazard. In case-control studies we associated use of chlorophenols, as well as phenoxy herbicides, with increased risk for soft-tissue sarcoma (1979) and malignant lymphoma, both Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (1981). These results were the first studies in the world showing a carcinogenic potential of these agents, and further discussed in an article published in 1982.

Our results associated exposure to chlorophenols and the weed-killers phenoxy herbicides, with contaminating TCDD, with increased risk for soft-tissue sarcoma and malignant lymphoma. The results were soon questioned by industry and its allied experts including scientists with their own hidden agenda, even with funds from the Swedish Cancer Society aimed at preventing cancer, see

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02841860701753697

and

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17086516

The lesson is that it took 37 years from the first publication showing PCP as a human carcinogen to establish causation, years that were lost for cancer prevention.

New study confirms increased risk for glioma associated with use of mobile phones and cordless phones

We published recently a pooled analysis of our case-control studies on glioma and use of mobile phones and cordless phones. The study has been published in Pathophysiology after pre-review and can be accessed via Internet. The results confirm a statistically significant increased risk for glioma and the risk increases with time from first use of the wireless phone and number of hours for use over the years. The risk is highest on the same side of the brain as the phone has been used, especially in the area with the highest exposure to microwaves, the temporal lobe, which would be expected.

These studies strengthen the 2011 classification by IARC at WHO that the microwave exposure is a ‘Possible human carcinogen’, Group 2B. In fact using the Hill viewpoints on association and causation it should be classified as Group 1, the agent causes human cancer. We have explored that fact in more detail in a previous article. The present results confirm that classification.

Our results have gained interest in many countries after a press release by Reuters and have also been discussed in the Finnish Medical newspaper. However, these worrying results for human health have not been discussed at all in Sweden, so the layman is uniformed about how important it is to avoid such exposure.

Decreased survival in patients with glioblastoma multiforme associated with use of mobile and cordless phones

In a new study a decreased survival was found in glioblastoma patients with long-term use of mobile and cordless phones. The study is free to download here.

According to the study use of wireless phones in the >20 years latency group (time since first use) yielded an increased hazard ratio (HR) = 1.7, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.2–2.3 for glioma, a decreased survival. For astrocytoma grade IV (glioblastoma multiforme; n = 926) mobile phone use yielded HR = 2.0, 95% CI = 1.4–2.9 and cordless phone use HR = 3.4, 95% CI = 1.04–11 in the same latency category. Due to the relationship with survival the classification of IARC (possibly carcinogenic to humans, Group 2B) is strengthened and RF-EMF should be regarded as human carcinogen requiring urgent revision of current exposure guidelines. The findings are discussed in detail in the article.

Using the Hill viewpoints from 1965 for evaluating strengths of evidence of the risk for brain tumors associated with use of mobile and cordless phones

Recently we published an article on use of mobile and cordless phones and the risk of brain tumors. It has been published in Reviews on Environmental Health (DOI 10.1515/reveh-2013-0006).

A summary (abstract) is given in the following.

 

Background: Wireless phones, i.e., mobile phones and

cordless phones, emit radiofrequency electromagnetic

fields (RF-EMF) when used. An increased risk of brain

tumors is a major concern. The International Agency for

Research on Cancer (IARC) at the World Health Organization

(WHO) evaluated the carcinogenic effect to humans

from RF-EMF in May 2011. It was concluded that RF-EMF

is a group 2B, i.e., a “possible”, human carcinogen. Bradford

Hill gave a presidential address at the British Royal

Society of Medicine in 1965 on the association or causation

that provides a helpful framework for evaluation of

the brain tumor risk from RF-EMF.

Methods: All nine issues on causation according to Hill

were evaluated. Regarding wireless phones, only studies

with long-term use were included. In addition, laboratory

studies and data on the incidence of brain tumors were

considered.

Results: The criteria on strength, consistency, specificity,

temporality, and biologic gradient for evidence of

increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma were

fulfilled. Additional evidence came from plausibility and

analogy based on laboratory studies. Regarding coherence,

several studies show increasing incidence of brain

tumors, especially in the most exposed area. Support for

the experiment came from antioxidants that can alleviate

the generation of reactive oxygen species involved in

biologic effects, although a direct mechanism for brain

tumor carcinogenesis has not been shown. In addition,

the finding of no increased risk for brain tumors in subjects

using the mobile phone only in a car with an external

antenna is supportive evidence. Hill did not consider all

the needed nine viewpoints to be essential requirements.

Conclusion: Based on the Hill criteria, glioma and acoustic

neuroma should be considered to be caused by RF-EMF

emissions from wireless phones and regarded as carcinogenic

to humans, classifying it as group 1 according to the

IARC classification. Current guidelines for exposure need

to be urgently revised.