Letter to Hon. Andrea M. Boland, Maine House of Representatives, in support of “Children’s Wireless Protection Act,” February 1, 2010

February 1, 2010

The Honorable Andrea M. Boland
State Representative
Maine House of Representatives
2 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

Dear Representative Boland:

The Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund of the National Research Center for Women & Families strongly supports the “Children’s Wireless Protection Act.”  We are very pleased that your legislation would require cell phones sold in Maine to have a prominent warning label on the phone and its packaging stating that the device may cause brain cancer and that cell phone users-especially pregnant women and children-should keep the phone away from their heads and bodies.

We have discussed cell phone radiation issues with many of the experts that are recommending that pregnant women and children limit their cell phone use, and are very concerned about the possible long-term risks for adults and children.  A study published in 2008 in Physics in Medicine and Biology revealed that the brains of children under 8 absorb twice as much radiation from cell phones as adult brains.[1] According to Swedish researcher Lennart Hardell, people who begin using cell phones (and cordless landline phones) before the age of 20 are at an even higher risk of developing brain tumors than people who begin using these wireless phones as adults.[2], [3]

While most cell phone studies have focused on cancer, a study published in the medical journal Epidemiology suggests that cell phone exposure could affect children’s behavior.[4] The children in the study who were hyperactive or had emotional or behavioral problems, including trouble getting along with other kids, were much more likely to have mothers who used cell phones during pregnancy. The problems were even more pronounced for children whose mothers used cell phones both during pregnancy and during their children’s first seven years of life. These children were 80% more likely to have problems than children whose mothers rarely or did not use cell phones. While it is impossible to determine whether the problem is primarily from radiation exposure or if mothers who use cell phones frequently while caring for their children differ from other mothers in ways that affect their offsprings’ behavior, the research results have important implications that deserve further attention, and that parents would want to know about.

The extensive use of cell phones is a relatively recent phenomenon, and since cancers usually take at least 10-20 years to develop, it will be years before research is likely to conclude whether cell phones cause cancer or not. However, the growing body of evidence indicates cause for concern, and delaying warnings now could result in tragedies later.

A review of 18 studies of cell phones and brain tumors, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine in 2007, concluded that studies of individuals using cell phones for more than 10 years “give a consistent pattern of an increased risk for acoustic neuroma and glioma,” with the risk being highest for a tumor on the same side of the head that the phone is used.[5] Gliomas are the most common cancerous brain tumor and acoustic neuromas are benign tumors of the acoustic nerve that can cause deafness.   Gliomas are the type of cancer that killed Sen. Kennedy and columnist Robert Novak.

Neurosurgeon Vini Khurana, Lennart Hardell and other scientists, conducted a meta-analysis of 11 studies published in peer-reviewed journals on long-term cell phone use and the risk of developing brain tumors.  The authors concluded, in their article in Surgical Neurology in September 2009, that using a cell phone for ten or more years “approximately doubles the risk of being diagnosed with a brain tumor” on the side of the head where the cell phone user holds the phone.[6]

Research also indicates that cell phone radiation (known as Radio Frequency-Electromagnetic Radiation or RF-EMR) harms sperm and may result in reduced fertility.[7] The lead researcher on that study, Dr. John Aitken from the University of Newcastle in Australia, recommends that men of reproductive age who would like to have children should avoid carrying cell phones in their pockets or anywhere below the waist. It is noteworthy that this warning is based on the much lower level of radiation emitted while a phone is on in a pocket but not being used for a call. Cell phones emit a higher level of radiation during a phone conversation.

Cell phone companies insist that evidence shows their phones are safe, but the industry tends to focus on studies they fund themselves and that draw conclusions that will keep their business booming.   Generally, industry-funded studies do not evaluate on which side of the head the phone was used, have rarely included business customers with corporate accounts (who tend to be the heaviest cell phone users), and their studies measure regular cell phone use as at least one call per week, and most of the people in their studies have used cell phones for less than 9 years.[8] These shortcomings almost ensure that the studies will not find a significant increase in cancers.

Prominent cancer researchers are not waiting for definitive studies, but are urging people to curb their cell phone use now.   For example, the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Dr. Ronald Herberman, warned his staff in July 2008 that the risks from cell phone radiation justified precautions, such as using ear pieces and minimizing cell phone usage by children.[9]

For the above reasons, the Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund of the National Research Center for Women & Families strongly supports your pioneering, proactive legislation.  The “Children’s Wireless Protection Act” would help protect the health of Maine residents by making the state the first to require warning labels that radiation from cell phones may cause brain cancer.


Diana Zuckerman, PhD


Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund

National Research Center for Women & Families


[1] Wiart J, Hadjem A, Wong MF, Bloch I. (2008) Analysis of RF exposure in the head tissues of children and adults. Physics in Medicine and Biology 53(13): 3681-3695 (15).

[2] Hardell L, Carlberg M, Hansson Mild K. (2009) Epidemiological evidence for an association between use of wireless phones and tumor diseases. Pathophysiology 16 (2-3): 113-122.

[3] Hardell L, Hansson Mild K, Carlberg M, Hallquist A. (2004) Cellular and cordless telephones and the association with brain tumours in different age group. Archives of Environmental Health 59 (3): 132-137.

[4] Divan HA, Kheifets L, Obel C, Olsen J. (2008) Prenatal and Postnatal Exposure to Cell Phone Use and Behavioral Problems in Children. Epidemiology 19(4): 523-529.

[5] Hardell L, Carlberg M, Soderqvist F, Hansson Mild K, Morgan LL (2007). Long-term use of cellular phones and brain tumours: increased risk associated with use for = 10 years. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 64(9):626-632.

[6] Khurana VG, Teo C, Kundi M, Hardell L, Carlberg M (2009) Cell phones and brain tumors: A review including the long-term epidemiologic data. Surgical Neurology 72(3): 205-214.

[7] De Iuliis GN, Newey RJ, King BV, Aitken RJ (2009) Mobile Phone Radiation Induces Reactive Oxygen Species Production and DNA Damage in Human Spermatozoa In Vitro. PLoS One 4(7):e6446.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006446. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0006446 (Accessed August 17, 2009).

[8] Schuz J, Jacobsen R, Olsen JH, et al. (2006) Cellular telephone use and cancer risk: Update of a nationwide Danish cohort. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 98: 1707-1713.

[9] “Researcher warns of brain cancer risk from cell phones. July 24, 2008. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/technology/24iht-cellphone.4.14767955.html

Complete warning from Herberman can be read at: http://www.upci.upmc.edu/news/pdf/The-Case-for-Precaution-in-Cell-Phone-Use.pdf