A presentation titled, INTERPHONE STUDIES TO DATE, AN EXAMINATION OF
POOR STUDY DESIGN RESULTING IN AN UNDER ESTIMATION OF THE RISK OF BRAIN
TUMORS, was given at this year's Bioelectromagnetics Society (BEMS)
meeting (San Diego, CA June 8-12).
The essence of the presentation was there are multiple design flaws in
the Interphone Protocol, each resulting in an underestimation of tumor
risk. As a result of these flaws, the examination of 10 Interphone
studies on the risk of brain tumors from cellphone use, found 60
statistically significant protective results showing use of a cellphone
protects the user from brain tumors.
Such results are prima facie evidence of the studies' incapacity to
determine if there is a risk. Nevertheless, as shown in the
presentation, when the highest exposures are examined (_>_10 years of
use or use of the cellphone on the same side of the head as the tumor),
the "protective" effect is substantially reduced, suggesting that an
increased risk counteracts the design flaw. When these 2 highest
exposures are combined, then the Interphone studies do find a risk!
The presentation succeeded beyond my wildest imagination. When finished
there was applause. I believe the applause was because I was giving
voice to the feeling of many scientists that bio-electrical research has
been "hi-jacked" by industry.
I was expecting angry accusations when question-time came. _There were
no questions_ even though the usual suspects (e.g., CK Chou, Joe
Elder, Joe Morrissey from Motorola and many other industry shils) were
there! My assumption why no questions were asked: the presentation was
Joachim Schülz and Maria Feychting, Interphone researchers, were sitting
right behind me. When I returned to my seat, I said, "I thought you
guys would have asked some questions." They just shrugged.
After the last presentation (there was only one after mine) CK Chou came
up to me in his usual ornery manner, asking if I used a cellphone. I
said, "No." He asked me if I use a microwave. I said, 'Yes but they
are shielded." He replied they often leak. What he was trying to do
was to cast me as a hypocrite.
He said Motorola would never do anything to harm its customers. He
then added some sort of allusion to the chicken and egg paradox (it made
no sense to me) adding Motorola would never harm their chickens. As I
walked away I said you will soon see a lot of dead chickens.
As I was leaving the conference facility I saw Joachim walking along. I
asked him why he had not asked any questions. He said once I had
accused them of conflict-of-interest, there was no point. He then went
on to say defensively that industry had only funded 20% of his German
Interphone study's cost. I told him my presentation suggested that
any conflict-of-interest could be unconscious. But my assertion that
the saying, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you" was relevant,
stands. The relevancy, I told him, was that not one of the researchers
discussed the significant findings of a protective effect. He said, he
had. As we discussed this further he admitted that the only discussion
in his paper was the source of possible errors (selection bias, recall
bias, etc.) with no reference to the significant protective effects.
On a previous day Elizabeth Cardis, the head of the entire 13-country
Interphone study, presented the Interphone study as part of a Plenary
Session. Her presentation consisted of the results published to date.
When she was asked when would the full study be released, she said,
"Soon ... I hope." She told Louis Slesin, publisher of Microwave News
>) that a new draft was being
circulated. It would be great if we could see the previous drafts.
Clearly there is an internal debate whether or not to publish the
results or how to spin away findings of concern.
I asked Cardis what was the total cost of the Interphone Study and what
was industry's contribution. She responded ~10M Euros overall; ~3.2M
Because she was leaving prior to my presentation I discussed it with her
using a printed copy. She agreed that every flaw I listed exists and
each flaw results in an underestimation of risk.
She had said during her presentation, the definition of "regular user
was not meant to be a risk factor." As I was walking her through my
presentation I asked her why had virtually every Interphone study
published the risk of tumors from "regular" use as the primary finding
in the studies' abstracts. She rolled her eyes and said something like,
"It was not my doing."
Berkeley, CA USA
PS: In the Cancun BEMS meeting (2006), I got the feeling that the dam
was showing signs of stress. In San Diego, I felt that the dam had
major cracks and was beginning to leak.