Prof Dariusz Leszczynski - Wireless radiation and human health policies
Professor Dariusz Leszczynski has two doctorates and a docentship in biochemistry, was Research Professor and Head of the Radiation Biology Laboratory at the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) in Finland and spent 18 years conducting experimental work on electromagnetic fields and health.
He was a member of the IARC Working Group that classified radiofrequency radiation a class 2B carcinogen.
In late 2015 Professor Leszczynski visited Australia, giving lectures in Sydney and Melbourne. The following summarises his 9 December presentation at Monash University: ‘Wireless radiation and human health policies: how reliable is the scientific evidence?’
All human health policies should be firmly based on science and the epidemiological (population) studies that are considered the most important are case-control studies in which people with a condition are compared to those without it. In 2011 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified RF radiation as a class 2B carcinogen based mainly on the results of two case-control studies: the Interphone study and studies by Dr Lennart Hardell and his team in Sweden—all which found increased risks of brain tumours among heavy and long-term mobile phone users. This finding is all the more significant considering that the Interphone study considered that ‘regular’ mobile phone users made only one call a week for six months—a far cry from typical phone use today– and this would mean the study was likely to underestimate brain tumour risks.
Since 2011, more research has strengthened the evidence linking mobile phone use to brain tumours. Firstly, the French CERENAT study found increased brain tumour risks in, not regular, but avid mobile phone users. Secondly, a study by Lerchl’s team (1) that replicated result of Till- mann et al (2) found that mobile phone radiation promoted tumours in the lungs and livers of animals exposed to radiation levels that complied with international standards. Thirdly, a study by Schmid and Kuster (3) showed that using a mobile phone operating at 900 or 1800 MHz can expose the skin, blood and muscle to more than 40 watts per kilo—whereas many studies have exposed cells to a maximum of two watts per kilo. This could explain why cell studies have not confirmed the risks shown by epidemiological studies and why the mechanism underlying the effects is still elusive. Increasing the strength of the exposure is likely to affect exposed cells. For example, Dariusz conducted experiments in which he exposed cells to 10 watts per kilo and observed very considerable effects—but the continuation of those experiments was discouraged by scientists from Motorola.
Some epidemiological data that has not shown increased brain tumour risks is flawed. The Danish cohort study had several weaknesses, such as excluding corporate (heavy) mobile phone users and assuming that a person’s mobile phone subscription was a good proxy indicator of their radiation exposure. The UK’s Million Women Study did not consider a typical sample of the population and lumped people who spoke for a few minutes or a few hours a week in the same exposure category. Studies that look at brain tumour trends—such as cancer registry data—are not reliable because trends could be influenced by many factors and not just a single carcinogen.
‘In my opinion, the currently available scientific evidence is sufficient to upgrade the carcinogenicity of cell phone radiation from the possible carcinogen (Group 2B) to the probable carcinogen (Group 2A).’
It is claimed that there is consensus among scientists that mobile phone radiation has no proven health effects and that such effects are unlikely. However, there is no such consensus and the views of scientists on the risks of mobile phone radiation have never been studied.
Even though the available science doesn’t prove that mobile phone radiation causes cancer, there is enough evidence to show that it could—not just possibly—but probably cause health problems. It’s certainly untrue to claim that there is no risk and the fact that effects are being shown at exposures allowed by international standards shows that these standards are not adequate to protect users. Certainly, the scientific evidence that mobile phone radiation may be harmful is sufficient to justify applying the Precautionary Principle.
Most epidemiological studies suffer from problems in determining how much actual radiation exposure subjects received and better ways are needed for doing this in future studies. Minutes of using a cell phone is a very poor proxy for estimation of radiation absorbed by the user. Using it leads to unreliable analyses where persons with differing actual radiation exposures are analysed in the same exposed group. One exciting possibility is to obtain accurate exposure information from the apps installed on smart phones. One such app, Quanta, was developed by the company Cellraid Ltd (www.cellraid.com)
Professor Leszczynski’s slides for this presentation, including references for the studies mentioned above, are available at: https://between-rockandhardplace.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/leszczynski-monash-december-9-2015.pdf
1. Lerchl, A et al, Biochem Biophys Res Commun, Apr 17;459(4):585-90, 2015. 2. Tillman, T et al, Int J Radiat Biol, 86 (7):529-4, 2010
3. Schmid G and Kuster N, Bioelectromag- netics, 36(2):133-48, 2015.