April 12, 2011
An Interview with Devra Davis
Cell Phones and Cancer: the Risk is Real
By RUSSELL MOKHIBER
There is a book you ought to buy.
It's called Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Is Doing to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family
by Devra Davis (Dutton, 2010).
Buy it from a book store – if you can find a book store that carries it.
Davis said that when the book was published in September 2010, she traveled to San Francisco, a hot bed of calls for right to know legislation when it comes to cell phone radiation.
"When I went there, I found out that no book store in the city had my book," Davis told Corporate Crime Reporter last week.
Has there been an explanation for that?
"The publishers are saying the book stores just aren't buying it," Davis said.
"This book has sold the fewest copies of any book I have written. And for non fiction, my books sold reasonably well."
"I don't have the time to know what is happening, but I smell a rat."
Davis is convinced that cell phone radiation causes brain cancer.
She is convinced by the evidence.
"Today, there is no debate that x-rays directly disturb electrons, break their bonds, disrupt the making of proteins, and impede the ability of cells to fix damage," Davis writes. "And yet there has not been much debate about the potential dangers of radiation from cell phones. It's been assumed that they are safe."
Thus, the "disconnect" from the title of her book.
What is your explanation as to why there is that disconnect?
"We know there is a big difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation," Davis says. "And cell phone radiation is non-ionizing."
"There is a paradigmatic conflict between the way the world of physics and the way the world of biology understands the nature of non-ionizing radiation."
"At its core, the physics paradigm believed as a matter of faith that it was physically impossible for the weak radiation from cell phones to have any biological effect."
"This belief was wrong 40 years ago. And that was shown by the work of Allan Frey. But because of this belief and because it was convenient to believe it, cell phones have never been tested for safety."
So, your explanation for the disconnect is money and power?
"Those are terms you can use," Davis said. "I can say that it proved to be very convenient because there is just about 100 percent use of cell phones for adults. In fact, in Australia, there is more than one phone per person. These are convenient devices. And it proved to be too inconvenient to deal with the fact that holding a small microwave radio next to your brain for hours a day is not a good idea."
"We know that brain cancer can take at least ten years to develop from the first exposure," Davis said. "It has a latency period of at least ten years on average. We know that because a few studies have been done on heavy cell phone users. And those studies have found that they have a doubled or greater risk of brain tumors after ten years of use."
What convinces Davis that cell phone radiation causes brain cancer?
"The first is the compelling biological studies done in cell cultures – human cell cultures – and looking at how they respond to pulsed digital signals from cell phone radiation," Davis says.
"And in particular, recognizing that the preponderance of the evidence is negative in large part because the preponderance of the evidence has been sponsored by industry."
"In the upcoming paperback edition, my book will have an afterward. In it, I say that in 1994, after Henry Lai and his colleague Narenda Singh produced a finding that pulsed digital signals from cell phone radiation could damage DNA in the brains of animals exposed to cell phone radiation, the industry mounted a full court press."
"When the abstract of that finding showing DNA damage from pulsed digital signals was produced, the industry went to the agency that funded the work – the National Institutes of Health – and accused the investigators of fraud and misuse of funds.
Davis says that this story has been told by Louis Slesin of Microwave News – before her book was published.
But it didn't make it into her hard cover book.
She says the story will appear in the afterward to the soon to be published paperback edition of her book.
We ask her why it didn't make it into the hard cover edition of her book.
Then says – "I can't answer that."
She won't explain what she means.
But the hard cover book is filled with stories like that of Franz Adlkofer – a former tobacco researcher who had a falling out with the tobacco industry.
He too didn't believe that cell phone radiation could damage living cells – until he did the tests.
"They first got results suggesting that cell phone radiation could have an effect on the DNA inside certain types of cells," Davis says.
"Adlkofer thought for sure there was a mistake. Adlkofer believed that it was physically impossible for cell phone radiation to have a biological effect. That was the dogma. And that dogma was shared widely. But he relished the opportunity to set up these big lab studies. He coordinated twelve labs looking at the basic functioning of cells."
"They repeated the tests and got the same results."
"So, he thought – we must have the wrong equipment – our equipment isn't good. So, having a lot of money, they went out and bought new equipment to do the testing."
"After repeating the results – these were twelve different labs working independently – he concluded that it looked like the radiation was having an effect. He concluded it had a very damaging effect on DNA, causing it to unravel."
Davis tells the somewhat complex story of how the industry went after Adlkofer, how he fought back to vindicate his study.
Davis says that brain cancer is a rare disease – right now it's 6 in 100,000 in the United States – still twice the rate of the developing world.
"But if the rate of brain cancer goes from 6 per 100,000 to 18 per 100,000, well, that's a tripling of the rate."
And you are expecting that, right?
"Yes," she says. "But it is not going to happen until I'm dead. That's why I wrote the book."
So, in a nutshell, what is your advice for consumers?
"Do not keep the phone on your body," Davis says. "Men should not keep it in their front pocket or in their breast pocket. Fine print warnings come with all of these phones. Nobody reads them. They toss them away."
"Never hold a cell phone next to your head. Use a speaker phone. Use an ear piece."
What about policies the government should pursue?
"The government should be issuing safe use guidelines about this right now. Other governments have done this."
What about our government, why hasn't our government done this?
"I'm filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit today. I am requesting information about why the FCC changed its web site overnight to correspond to the position of industry."
"I was told that there were two memos explaining the reasons – but they said they weren't going to give them to me. Jim Turner is filing the lawsuit for us pro bono."
[For the complete Interview with Devra Davis, see 25 Corporate Crime Reporter
15(11), April 11, 2011, print edition only.]Russell Mokhiber
edits the Corporate Crime Reporter