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Is New Cell Phone Tumor Study Flawed?

Is the new, purportedly enormous-in-scope,  Danish study that “shows” that cell phones don’t cause tumors, flawed? At first glance, it’s actually hard to tell. But strident opposition is coming from numerous experts.

For example, Electromagnetic Health is a group of scientists and medical doctors (some from Ivy League schools), who believe (and cite some compelling evidence) that electromagnetic radiation is damaging our health. They conclude that earlier studies about cell phones are correct—they do cause damage to our brains (especially the growth of tumors). On their news page they say (emphasis, mine):

Devra Davis, PhD, MPH, cancer epidemiologist and President of Environmental Health Trust [comments]:  “From the way it was set up originally, this deeply flawed study was designed to fail to find an increased risk of brain tumors tied with cellphone use.   In order for any study of a relatively rare disease like brain tumors to find a change in risk, millions must be followed for decades.  By extending an earlier analysis on the same group of cellphone users this new report provides unsurprising, biased and misleading conclusions. It uses no direct information on cell phone use, fails to consider recent and rapidly changing nature of and exposure to microwave radiation from cellphones, cordless phones and other growing sources, and excludes those who would have been the heaviest users—namely more than 300,000 business people in the 1990s who are known to have used phones four times as much as those in this study.”

More contradictions to the study were published by British Medical Journal, which published the original study. Almost immediately after the report came out BMJ published a flurry of letters by respected experts which convincingly shot down the Danish study, most notably a letter from scientists Alasdair Philips and Graham Lamburn who show why the numbers just don’t add up. Philips and Lamburn’s drew the following conclusion:

It is unclear how this latest paper makes any novel contributions to the existing literature on mobile phones and brain tumours, as it contains significantly worse flaws than either the INTERPHONE group’s research or the papers published by Lennart Hardell. The magnitude of the limitations in this research make meaningful analyses and conclusions virtually impossible.

So my advice? Don’t talk or text while driving. We know that is seriously injurious to your health (and the health of everyone on the road). And take seriously the possibility that cell phones and other wireless technology might cause problems to your health. Limit usage when possible. And consider strictly limiting the use of cell phones by children, who’s brains are still developing.

Is New Cell Phone Tumor Study Flawed?

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2011). Is New Cell Phone Tumor Study Flawed?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 11, 2019, from


Last updated: 24 Oct 2011
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