November 30th 2009, 18:01
If you haven't seen the 1999 movie The Insider, it offers a cautionary tale about the mobile-phone industry. It's based on the true story of a producer (played by Al Pacino) of the American TV show 60 Minutes and a former employee of the tobacco industry (played by Russell Crowe), and their joint attempt to blow the whistle on the tobacco industry.
Although supposedly restrained by a non-disclosure agreement, Crowe reluctantly shares his inside knowledge that the corporate heads of the tobacco titans, who long knew that tobacco was highly addictive, suppressed that information for years through industry sponsored 'studies', which repeatedly claimed to find no such association. All of smoking's risks were hidden behind a smokescreen of official
research. As we now know, the only studies that found passive smoking wasn't harmful were those sponsored by the tobacco industry.
This pattern is now repeating itself in the mobile-phone industry. As WDDTY Deputy Editor Joanna Evans reveals in our cover story this month, a new review of all the independent data-yet to be published-leads one to an indisputable conclusion: mobile phones cause cancer.
The new research, along with the INTERPHONE study, a multimilliondollar, 13-country investigation into a possible cancer risk, reveals a 'tipping point'-the amount of incremental exposure that causes mobile-phone use to become highly deadly. After 10 years' of regular use, according to one study, your risk of brain cancer rises by an astonishing 280 per cent. However, the risk begins at surprisingly small doses. For every 100 hours of use, your risk increases by 5 per cent. And the risk isn't limited to only mobile phones, but to any cordless phone-and what modern house is without one these days?
For years, the mobile-phone industry has bought and paid for studies that consistently show no risk, thus keeping the debate over the dangers alive. Indeed, the industry once produced a study showing that sticking a phone to your head actually protects against brain cancer. Most scandalous of all, by keeping the hazards in doubt, the industry has been allowed to market directly to children. Blackberrys and other
brands, formerly only targeted at the high-use corporate types, are now being scaled and priced down for preteens and teenagers this Christmas.
It stands to reason that children are more exposed to danger, as the protective mechanisms of the skull and neural connections are still developing. Nevertheless, we have no idea exactly how much risk our
children are facing. No study has ever bothered to investigate exactly what this sea of radiation is doing to them, nor ask what happens if a child keeps a phone constantly to hand or head. However, what is especially disturbing about the new evidence is how easily industry of any sort-whether pharmaceuticals, tobacco or mobile phones-can purchase scientific credibility.
All Western governments live comfortably off the billions of dollars and pounds paid to them by mobile-phone licensing deals, so they are the last people to look closely at whose pocketbook has funded the research. Thankfully, the French have taken the lead by banning phones in primary schools. May the rest
of the EU and the US not wait as long as they did with tobacco.