Beliefnet
Rod Dreher

Uh oh:

Earlier this winter, I met an investment banker who was diagnosed with a brain tumor five years ago. He’s a managing director at a top Wall Street firm, and I was put in touch with him through a colleague who knew I was writing a story about the potential dangers of cell-phone radiation. He agreed to talk with me only if his name wasn’t used, so I’ll call him Jim. He explained that the tumor was located just behind his right ear and was not immediately fatal–the five-year survival rate is about 70 percent. He was 35 years old at the time of his diagnosis and immediately suspected it was the result of his intense cell-phone usage. “Not for nothing,” he said, “but in investment banking we’ve been using cell phones since 1992, back when they were the Gordon-Gekko-on-the-beach kind of phone.” When Jim asked his neurosurgeon, who was on the staff of a major medical center in Manhattan, about the possibility of a cell-phone-induced tumor, the doctor responded that in fact he was seeing more and more of such cases–young, relatively healthy businessmen who had long used their phones obsessively. He said he believed the industry had discredited studies showing there is a risk from cell phones. “I got a sense that he was pissed off,” Jim told me. A handful of Jim’s colleagues had already died from brain cancer; the more reports he encountered of young finance guys developing tumors, the more certain he felt that it wasn’t a coincidence. “I knew four or five people just at my firm who got tumors,” Jim says. “Each time, people ask the question. I hear it in the hallways.”
It’s hard to talk about the dangers of cell-phone radiation without sounding like a conspiracy theorist. This is especially true in the United States, where non-industry-funded studies are rare, where legislation protecting the wireless industry from legal challenges has long been in place, and where our lives have been so thoroughly integrated with wireless technology that to suggest it might be a problem–maybe, eventually, a very big public-health problem–is like saying our shoes might be killing us.
Except our shoes don’t send microwaves directly into our brains.

We don’t like to ask questions we don’t want to hear the answer to. If I had to give up my cellphone, life as I’ve gotten used to it over the past decade would be very hard to continue. I wonder if using the microphone-equipped earbuds provided with the iPhone (and which allow you to keep the phone itself in your pocket, or elsewhere on your person) would help?
But it’s not merely cell phones themselves, but cell phone towers and Wi-Fi systems. Excerpt:

All of these concerns–the danger of microwaves issuing from the phones we place next to our skulls, the danger of waves emitted by the cell towers that dot our landscapes–also apply to the Wi-Fi networks in our homes and libraries and offices and cafés and parks and neighborhoods. Wi-Fi operates typically at a frequency of 2.4 gigahertz (the same frequency as microwave ovens) but is embedded with a wider range of modulations than cell phones, because we need it to carry more data. “It never ceases to surprise me that people will fight a cell tower going up in their neighborhoods,” Blake Levitt, author of Electromagnetic Fields: A Consumer’s Guide to the Issues and How to Protect Ourselves, told me. “They they’ll install a Wi-Fi system in their homes. That’s like inviting a cell tower indoors.”
In the summer of 2006, a super-Wi-Fi system known as WiMAX was tested in rural Sweden. Bombarded with signals, the residents of the village of Götene–who had no knowledge that the transmitter had come online–were overcome by headaches, difficulty breathing, and blurred vision, according to a Swedish news report. Two residents reported to the hospital with heart arrhythmias, similar to those that, more than thirty years ago, Allen Frey induced in frog hearts. This happened only hours after the system was turned on, and as soon as it was powered down, the symptoms disappeared.

Allan Frey is the neuroscientist who first discovered decades ago that microwaves could affect the brain. He says today that the whole debate around cellphones, microwaves and the human body, which few people are willing to talk about and which industry has done a lot to discourage, is a perfect example of science being stopped in its tracks by people feeling too threatened by the information it might uncover. Furthermore, says Frey:

“A human being is a complex organization of electrical fields. Electroencephalograms and electrocardiograms, for example, measure these fields. Every cell has an electrical field across the cell membrane, which is a regulatory interface and controls what goes into and out of the cell. All nerve signals are electric. And between the nucleus and the membrane there is an electrical field, you can measure voltages of individual cells! Electricity drives biology. We evolved in a particular electromagnetic environment”–the magnetic fields from the earth’s iron core, the terrestrial magnetism from lodestones, visible light, ultraviolet frequencies, lightning–“and if we change that environment as we have, we either adapt or we have trouble.”

This is a well-researched story. Read the whole thing. (Thanks to reader mm for sending it along).

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus