Cell Phones and Brain Cancer – More Junk Science from the WHO

The link between cell phones and brain cancer has been studied and studied and studied to death, and the results are conclusive:  there is no correlation between the two.  Yet the WHO, a political organization posing as a health organization, is now claiming otherwise.

Let’s take a look at the actual study.  Oh, wait, we can’t.  It hasn’t been published yet.  The WHO is engaging in “Science by Press Conference,” where researchers make bold proclamations about their findings long before their results are published.  Quite often the actual results are far less impressive than the original claims, but by the time the study is published the press has lost interest and the public is left with an erroneous impression they assume is fact.

We can piece together some information from the press releases.  It appears this was done via survey, one of the least reliable ways of collecting information.  Quick, how much did you use your cell phone in 2003?  If someone asks this question you’re going to guess, just like everyone else.  Someone with brain cancer who believes there’s a connection is likely to guess much higher than the average interviewee.  This is called recall bias, and makes survey based studies very unreliable.

The head of the study, Dr. Elisabeth Cardis, said, “In the absence of definitive results and in the light of a number of studies which, though limited, suggest a possible effect of radiofrequency radiation, precautions are important.”  (Emphases added.) Ah, so they don’t have any definitive results.  Big surprise.  No wonder they’re resorting to Science By Press Conference.

While searching for more information on this I came across another study making similar claims.

“I went into this really dubious that anything was going on,” Joel Moskowitz  of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, told the Los Angeles Times. “Overall, you find no difference. But when you start teasing the studies apart and doing these subgroup analyses, you do find there is reason to be concerned.” Moskowitz is one of the coauthors of the new study; the lead author is Seung-Kwon Myung of South Korea’s National Cancer Center.  (source: Microwave News)

So there’s no increase in tumors until you start “teasing” the numbers.  You have to massage them and fondle them and caress them and seduce them into rolling over and putting out the data you want.

This was a meta-analysis, which should set of any smartenized person’s bullshit meter.  Meta-analysis consists of cherry picking studies, dumping the data into a blender, setting the speed to “bullshit” and extracting any numbers you like.

Their study provides a perfect example.  They start with 465 articles and cherry pick 23 studies, but were still unable to extract any scary numbers.  Their odds ratio was .98.  (1.0 signifies no effect.) But then they cherry picked it even more, down to 13 studies, and were able to concoct an 18% risk.

There are two major problems with that number.  First, the 1.18 odds ratio had a confidence interval of 1.04 to 1.34.  That means the real number can be somewhere between 4% and 34%.  If the lower bound of the CI was 1.0 or lower, (0%) the number would statically insignificant.  Therefore, even with all their data diddling they came up with a number that was just barely statically significant.

The second problem is that any Odds Ratio or Relative Risk of less than 2.0 is highly suspect.  Epidemiology is a very crude science.   There are a myriad of problems associated with reducing human behavior to numbers and every study suffers from them to some degree.  Because of this real epidemiologists are very suspicious of ORs or RRs of less than 2.0, and RRs in the teens or twenties are just too small for epidemiology to measure accurately.  It’s like trying to measure millimeters with a yardstick – the tool is just too crude to do the job.

Lastly, we need to consider the honesty of the WHO.  They have a long history of fudging data.

Their rating of health care in various countries, which put the US in 26th place, was a prime example.  Most people just accepted the numbers without looking at how they were concocted.  Half of the criteria rated a country on how thoroughly their health care was socialized.  The “study” was then touted as proof that socialized medicine is superior.  Cute.

And then there’s their infamous second hand smoke study.  When their well done study showed no increase in lung cancer from SHS they tried to bury it, and would have succeeded if not for the hounding of the British press.   They finally acquiesced with a press release that lied about their findings in the title, while admitting the facts later in the article.

A little while later they issued a new study that proclaimed SHS was deadly.  It was, not surprisingly, a meta analysis.

This will, of course, be a boon to scum-sucking bottom feeders, and will give hypochondriacs something more to worry and bitch about.  But smartenized people will continue to use their cell phones without the least bit of worry.  As an added bonus people stupid enough to believe this may be afraid to answer your call, thus saving you from wasting time talking to them.

7 Comment(s)

  1. It’s no wonder the Watchtower quotes this organization so much.

    Brian | Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

  2. I have mixed feelings about the WHO. Yes, they peddle a lot of pseudoscience but they’re also against homeopathy. It’s like how Bill Maher is a staunch critic of religion, but also an anti-vaccination nutjob.

    Brian | Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

  3. Dave,
    You are correct, the WHO is only a political organization masquerading as a Medical organization. They have zero credibility. As for cell phones causing cancer, or any illness, I discounted that theory the first time it was proposed since Ham operators, not to mention military personnel, have been using portable transceivers for many years with no ill effects. Considering that those transceivers have output power ratings of up to 10 Watts, the fraction of a watt current cell phones emit is less than negligible. Human beings have been bathed in radio waves since the “wireless” was invented, and most of that radiation is far stronger than any cell phone. I’m sure we will need to debunk this “science” several more times before it goes away.


    Brian Riley | Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

  4. I think we need a few more people named Brian in here.

    Junk Science never dies. You can debunk it and slam it to the ground and stomp on it’s throat and sometimes (and only sometimes) be successful. But in a year or a decade it comes back full force. Witness the recent resurgence of the Anti-Vax movement, which started when vaccination was invented, was stomped down, and has come back several times since.

    Hittman | Oct 27, 2009 | Reply

  5. By golly, I searched COREsense and stumbled upon this site, and I must say, it has touched me in ways I have never been touched before without me wanting to press charges.

    I have not yet looked into this, but when I overheard my friends and family having discussions about how cell phones, all of a sudden, DO cause brain cancer, but this time for reals – I knew I smelled bull feces.

    I must say, I think I have been potentially “Smartenized”.

    I think I might even write a letter to the people who decide how to punctuate correctly because I feel so strongly about how certain punctuations belong OUTSIDE of those damn “quotation marks”.

    Thank you. This blog might change my life.

    Frank | Oct 27, 2009 | Reply

  6. It does for most people. They come here tired and bored with their drab and wretched lives, and discover that by checking back every week or two their food tastes better, their hair becomes more manageable, their relationships improve, their sex lives become more satisfying and they become wildly popular in their ever expanding circle of friends.

    Hittman | Oct 29, 2009 | Reply

  7. I told my mother that this was Junk Science but she argued:” A SENATOR said they were harmful!”

    Steve Burstein | Dec 28, 2009 | Reply

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