Friday, March 31, 2006

Point by Stupid Point (Cell Phone Edition)

So we're getting a good look at why Sweeden isn't exactly a hotbed for medical research by the recent bush league study showing that incresed cell phone use can cause brain tumors, despite every other report ever published showing that there is no definite correlation either statistical or medical. Like my point by stupid format on the sports page (regarding NFL celecration rules), I'm just going to hit the main points and provide commentary. I looked for the actual study itself but was unable to find it on the Center's website. I did find this though: a project studying how subjective Neurophysiological symptoms are connected with mobile phones.

"researchers at the Swedish National Institute for Working Life said they looked at the mobile phone use of 905 people between the age of 20 and 80 who had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and found a link."

Ignoring that the completely leaves us in the dark involving what sort of "link" was found, you can't go looking only at people who have brain tumors and get an idea on if that brain tumor was caused by anything. You'll have to look at similar folks who did not get a brain tumor.

"A total 85 of these 905 cases were so-called high users of mobile phones, that is they began early to use mobile and, or wireless telephones and used them a lot" [emphasis mine]

Given that mobile phone service methods have changed a lot over the past few years, even if these folks are getting brain tumors from the phones, we do not know if the current crop of phones are contributing to the problem or if this occured because of phones that are no longer in production and/or use.

"The study also shows that the rise in risk is noticeable for tumors on the side of the head where the phone was said to be used"

This is the most interesting point made in the article. It still doesn't rule out other possiblities and it still doesn't lay out a clear cause and effect pattern. Do tumors occur on the same side as your cell phone ear for other reasons? For example, might it have to do with which side of your brain is dominant? You cell phone ear and the side a tumor is on could both be effects of the same cause.

""The way to get the risk down is to use handsfree," he told Reuters."

Huh? Given that handsfree is a pretty new product on the market, how exactly was that proven to help those who "began early" in their mobile phone usage? Or is this guy just making an opinion with no real facutal basis, either statistical or scientific.

Do I think that cell phones cause brain tumors? I don't know but these guys don't know either, even if they claim otherwise. Much like smoking, it will probably take a long time to put together any real statistical and/or scientific evidence that cell phone use leads to tumors.

No comments: