Written By: Ryan McCaughey, PhD
In March 2018 an expert panel of scientists convened to review the data from the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Technical Reports on Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation. The research assessed the health effects from exposure to radiofrequency radiation in rats and mice.[i]
The peer review panel concluded that the report showed “clear evidence” that exposure to cellphone radiofrequency (RF) radiation resulted in tumors in tissues surrounding nerves in the hearts of male rats. The study also found “some evidence” that it caused tumors in the brains and adrenal glands of male rats. There was also “equivocal” evidence that cell phone radiation increased the risk for lymphoma, prostate, pituitary, pancreas, liver, skin, and lung tumors, raised the risk of heart conditions, caused DNA damage, resulted in lower birth weights.
The NTP uses the following criteria for carcinogenicity[ii], i.e. the ability or tendency to produce cancer:
Clear Evidence of Carcinogenic Activity is demonstrated by studies that are interpreted as showing a dose-related (i) increase of malignant neoplasms, (ii) increase of a combination of malignant and benign neoplasms, or (iii) marked increase of benign neoplasms if there is an indication from this or other studies of the ability of such tumors to progress to malignancy.
Some Evidence of Carcinogenic Activity is demonstrated by studies that are interpreted as showing a chemical-related increased incidence of neoplasms (malignant, benign, or combined) in which the strength of the response is less than that required for clear evidence.
Equivocal Evidence of Carcinogenic Activity is demonstrated by studies that are interpreted as showing a marginal increase of neoplasms that may be chemically related.
No Evidence of Carcinogenic Activity is demonstrated by studies that are interpreted as showing no chemical-related increases in malignant or benign neoplasms.
Although animal studies can’t perfectly replicate human cell phone use, the 2011 INTERPHONE study also found that the heavy cell phone users were more likely to develop glioma[iii]—the same type of brain cancer the NTP study found in the male rats.
Ronald Melnick, the NTP senior toxicologist who designed the studies, believes the FDA should issue guidance based on the results of the research. “I would think it would be irresponsible to not put out indications to the public,” Melnick says. “Maintain a distance from this device from your children. Don’t sleep with your phone near your head. Use wired headsets. This would be something that the agencies could do right now.”