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Telltale Tumors


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The glioma study cited in last week's [June 15] Hot Type [conducted by researchers from five northern European countries and published this January in the International Journal of Cancer] shows a risk among those already with glioma for a sidedness bias in the side their tumor occurred on for those who used cell phones for more than ten years.

For a retrospective study, that means the researchers are relying on people remembering what side of their head they predominantly held a cell phone against when speaking for an extended period of time. Previous studies of this specific matter had to figure out what the recall bias was to make sure that people with gliomas weren't misremembering that their predominant talking side (if any) was the side that had the glioma on it.

So it's not a great indicator of increased risk, because it's not showing an increased risk, but rather suggesting there may be a correlation between long usage and glioma-sidedness. They haven't isolated all the factors here, and thus there's a lot more work to be done. The study doesn't show an increased risk in the general population for gliomas--there's no conclusion like that at all.

Multibillion-dollar industries do act in their own interests, regardless of social good and public health. However, despite the allegations made over the last decade or more that cellular associations and carriers have had studies suppressed, we're just not seeing from independent studies or general epidemiological trends--spikes in certain cancers among middle-class information workers, for instance--the kind of health effects that are alleged. I'm all for more research, but taking the only snip of possible correlation in a study and making that the nub of an argument about overall health risk seems misplaced.

Glenn Fleishman


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