ISIS Report 30/01/08
Cordless Phones and Malignant Brain Tumours
Cordless phones depend on the same microwaves that power cell phones and
other wireless telecommunication and may be far more hazardous. Dr.
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Cordless phones at least as dangerous as mobile phones
Cancer researchers in Sweden found
strong links between malignant brain tumours and using cordless phones, which
are comparable to those for using mobile phones [1, 2].
The cancer research
team led by Lennart Hardell at the University of Orebro showed that people
who have used mobile phones or cordless phones for more than 2 000 h are all
at greatly increased risks of getting malignant brain tumours.
The odds of getting
malignant brain tumours compared with those who have never used these phones
- expressed as odds ratio, OR – was 5.9 times for analogue mobile phones (older
type of mobile phones), 3.7 tines for digital mobile phones and 2.3 times
for cordless phones. (OR of 1 indicates no increased risk compared to non-users;
OR<1 indicates decreased risk; and OR>1 indicates increased risk.)
For all malignant
brain tumours in people who have used the phones for more than ten years,
the ORs were 3.0 and 2.8 for analogue and digital mobile phones respectively,
and 3.3 for cordless phones. For high-grade astrocytomas (malignant tumour
of the astrocyte, a glial cell), the corresponding ORs increased further to
3.7, 3.8, and 3.9 respectively.
The risk of malignant
brain tumours is increased for any
phone use, regardless of how many years or hours of use. The ORs for analogue
and digital mobile phones were 1.5 and 1.3 respectively, and for cordless
phone, 1.3. When considering malignant tumours on the same side of the head
the phone is used, the ORs rose to 2.1, 1.8, and 1.7 respectively for malignant
tumours, and to 2.4, 2.3 and 2.0 respectively for high-grade astrocytomas.
This is yet another indication that the tumours are associated with exposure.
These latest results were obtained by analysing the
pooled data from two case control studies that yielded similar findings earlier.
Pooling the data gave more cases and hence more reliable results. Altogether,
there were 905 cases of malignant brain tumours, and 2 162 controls subjects
matched for age and sex, and living in the same area of Sweden.
researchers are the first team to have studied cordless phones, which depend
on the same wireless technology and microwave telecommunication as mobile
phones. Although cordless phone were first introduced in 1980, it did not
become widely available in Sweden until the digital system was introduced in the early
1990s, and in the United States in 2000 . So, while mobile phones and transmitters
were grabbing the headlines (see Box), cordless phones have been silently
invading our homes and workplaces.
Mobile phone links to cancers and other illnesses
The link between mobile
phones and transmitters to cancers and other serious illnesses were recently
confirmed [4, 5] (Cancer Risks
from Microwaves Confirmed, Drowning
in a Sea of Microwaves, SiS
34). Mobile phone transmitters are suspects in the disappearance of birds
and bees [6, 7] Mobile Phones
& Vanishing Birds, Mobile
Phones and Vanishing Bees, SiS
34). Numerous laboratory studies have reported effects on a wide range of
biological and biochemical functions in animals, tissues, and cells [8,
9] (Mobile Phones & Brain Damage,
SiS 24; Confirmed: Mobile Phones Break DNA
& Scramble Genomes, SiS
25), and even an enzyme solution was affected  (Mobile Phone Turns Enzyme Solution
into A Gel, SiS 25).
The latest to hit the press is the association between mobile phone use and
tumours of the salivary gland on the same side of the head located close to
where the phone is placed , and sleep disorders in people using the phone
close to bedtime [12, 13], which impairs the body’s ability to repair daily
wear and tear. This affected subjects regardless of whether they think they
are ‘electro-sensitive’ or not.
Nor are microwave radiation the only part of the electromagnetic spectrum that
has biological effects. Evidence has been accumulating since the 1950s that
the entire electromagnetic spectrum may affect living organisms, and at intensities
far below that which heats up the tissues  (Electromagnetic
Fields, Leukaemia and DNA Damage, SiS 24). Such Non-Thermal
Effects (SiS 17 ) are at the centre of the continuing controversy
over the failure of regulatory guidelines to protect the public. The permitted
exposure levels are set far too high, based on those that would not heat up
the tissues, but are thousands, if not millions of times those known to have
The reason organisms
are sensitive to very weak electromagnetic fields is because the body itself
depends on internal electric and electromagnetic fields to intercommunicate
and coordinate its functions and movements [16, 17] (The Rainbow and the Worm - The Physics
of Organisms 2nd Edition and Quantum Jazz, SiS 32). But this fundamental physics of
organisms has so far eluded much of the mainstream scientific community
 (The Excluded Biology, SiS 17) wedded to obsolete theories that
present the organism as a mechanical contraption of molecular nuts and bolts.
The focus on mobile phones
has distracted attention from the cordless phone, which has insinuated itself
into positions where they could cause the most harm. Cordless phones are typically
placed on the desktop or at the bedside, where people are maximally exposed
to radiation intensities hundreds and thousands of times stronger than those
from nearby cell phone transmitters sufficient to cause cancers. And they
are emitting continuously 24 hours a day. Anecdotal evidence has been emerging
of people suffering illnesses such as chronic fatigue and sleep disturbance
, which are very similar to those from mobile phones. An experiment carried
out at Landau University in Germany showed that bees failed
to return to the hives when cordless phone base stations are placed in them
Experts demand health warning on cordless phones
The current digital enhanced
cordless telephone (DECT) sold in Europe consists of one or
more handsets that communicate with a base station via radio waves in the
microwave range. The base station emits (broadcasts) microwave radiation at
full power pulses100 times a second as long as it is plugged into the wall
socket. There have been calls for health warning on DECTs [19, 20], if not
an outright ban (see later).
DECTs or similar
phones are now widely used throughout the world. Independent measurements
have been carried out on the power of the microwaves emitted, the most thorough
by Thomas Haumann (Umweltanlaytik und Baubiologie, Essen, Germany) and Peter
Sierck (Environmental Testing & Technology, Inc., Encinatas, California,
USA) in 2002  They found a maximum power density of over 600 000 mW/m2
at the normal distance of 1 foot (0.3 m) if the base station is placed on
an office desk or bedside table. The peak radiation values in the same room
are higher than those from any mobile phone transmitters that are located
near residential buildings. The background level (in the absence of the DECT
base station) was <0.3 mW/m2.
The DFHSS (Digital Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum) phone sold in the US
was almost identical to the DECT in Europe. Both are pulsed at 100 Hz. The DFHSS
runs on the frequency range of 2 450 MHz and DECT on 1 880 MHz.
measurements on the DFHSS base station are comparable to those made on DECT
base stations in Germany in 1996 (see Table 1 ).
power density levels in the entire house were also quite high (see Table 2
), compared with radiation levels in homes near mobile phone transmission
towers, about 10-1 000mW/m2 measured in the UK .
These power density
levels are legal and considered ‘safe’, according to current regulatory guidelines,
which are 10 000 to over 1 000 000 times those recommended by expert bodies
on the basis of studies demonstrating biological effects at power densities
orders or magnitude below the legal limits.
physicians, environmental professionals and toxicologists signed a Resolution
calling for the immediate stop of the DECT technology, which was delivered
to the Germany Environment Minister Mr. Jurgen Trittin in October 1999 .
DECT microwaves are
potentially more harmful than those of other wireless technologies because
the microwaves are delivered at maximum power density all the time, even when
the phone is not in use; it is pulsed at 100 Hz well within the range of typical
biochemical rhythms within the body, and users are typically exposed at maximum
levels either throughout their working day or during their sleep. Chronic
exposure to such a powerful, pulsed form of the radiation from DECT base stations
is more harmful than either acute exposure or exposure to a constant (non-pulsed)
radiation. Pulsed radiation, in which the electric component changes from
zero to full power almost instantaneously induces a much more powerful magnetic
field that can fully penetrate the body (to induce a correspondingly large
electric current) than the more slowly changing non-pulsed field.
broadband routers also strong emitters of microwaves
Wireless broadband routers (‘Home Hubs’) and modems are also
strong emitters of microwaves, and like DECT base stations, emit constantly
at full power density.
People who have installed broadband
in their homes and workplaces recently should beware; even though you have
not asked for the wireless option, and you are not using wireless, the router
is likely to be actively emitting microwaves, unless
you specifically disable it. Similarly, if your computer comes
with the wireless modem and you are not going to use wireless, you need to
disable the wireless option.
Low radiation cordless phone now available
Cordless phones need not
have such high power, nor do they need to be on all the time, as one cordless
phone maker has shown. Orchid has responded to people’s health concerns by
redesigning the cordless phone. The company has now produced its third generation
‘low radiation’ DECT that emits nothing when the phone is not in use and when
in use, adjusts the power output depending on how far away the base station
is from the handset. Thus, if the call is made up to several metres from the
base station, the power output is automatically reduced by as much as 75 percent.
In addition, there is a switch to permanently reduce the power output by 75
percent regardless of the distance, for people who are electrosensitive. The
company Rowtex Limited has taken over the sales and distribution of all Orchid
Low Radiation cordless phones in the UK, see www.lowradiation.net.