Pro Cellphone Safety Neuroscientist forced to retire amid NTP divisions
By Tunicia Phillips
Just as divisions deepen within the scientific and health community on the National Toxicology Program study, one of the most prominent Professor’s on cellphone and wireless safety has been put on early leave.
Professor Olle Johannson at the Swedish based Karolinksa Institute says the National Toxicology Program’s preliminary report coincides with a request for him to retire from his role in research concerning health effects of electromagnetic fields and the functional impairment of electro-hypersensitivity.
Findings of the NTP study were released last week after its directors decided that the preliminary findings were too important not to release.
The project has been underway for more than a decade, and with a $25 million price tag, is the most expensive ever undertaken by the NTP. The study involved more than 2,500 rodents, exposed to the same type of radiation found in cell phones, at the same frequencies, for nine hours every day, for two years.
In the May 27 press conference the NTP stated one of the reasons that they were releasing these findings was because the NTP research results showed effects similar to human epidemiological research.
Both Vodacom and MTN in South Africa are preparing statements on the release of the NTP and what it means for the health risk discussion.
At present, the mobile industry and the World Health Organisation cite insufficient evidence to suggest health effects from mobile radiation. There are studies that have also concluded no risk.
When asked about the current criticism of the results, Johansson said: “the argument is the same again; it will take time, and then one day it will be too late to wake-up and say no.”
“… persons, like myself, who has warned (on RF safety) for decades have been treated like dirt.”
“ the last chapter of my professional life is about to be written.”
“The Karolinska Institute namely wants me to retire in advance due to a) my lack of funding b) lack of need of my services, i.e. the need for research concerning health effects of electromagnetic fields and the functional impairment electrohypersensitivity does not exist any longer.”
“My personal comment to this is: ????????? With the above results (NTP) at hand, I feel the need is much, much bigger than ever!”
Johansson’ s initial reaction to the NTP study: “Even though the incidences were regarded as low, transferred to the human population scale such a result still would mean – down the road – a tremendous future cost for the world’s health care systems.
“And, with humans living for a much longer time, we may be witnessing future incidence increases at a dramatic scale.
“It is, strictly scientifically, naturally very difficult – not to say impossible – to draw any far-reaching conclusions, but since we are talking about unborn foetuses, newly-born babies, children, teenagers, adults and elderly – all at once – it is fair to call for precautionary measures as well as much better monitoring of health parameters and changes in our modern societies,” he said.
“The scientists must have regarded their results of high importance since they released them before the entire study was completed, a rather unusual decision.
“As a consequence, I think – from now on – it will be very difficult to claim wireless systems to be without risk.
“The findings definitely revive questions about the safety of the devices, and the results of the NTP study have the potential to move a debate that has been locked in stalemate for almost as long as cell phones have been around,” said Johansson.
Johansson wrote to several South African ministers and regulatory bodies on the health risks associated with wireless internet and mobile devices in 2011. None have so far acknowledged receiving the letter.
Prof Johansson says a very mind-boggling finding is that the exposed rats lived longer, but it could make sense given the concomitant initial activation also of immune-defense/tissue repair systems. What this suggests is that the RF activates immune functioning.
The female exposed rats did not get the Cardiac schwannomas or brain gliomas. The American Cancer Society states in their statement about the NTP results, “It’s important to note that these sorts of gender differences often appear in carcinogenic studies, so the fact they show up here should not detract from the importance of the findings.”
“If you look historically at male and female rats, the rate in the males is about ten times than in females.
“The fact there was any cancer showing up in the females is actually quite dramatic, it may well be that the risk was higher in the females if you look closely at the data than it was in the males.
“So this absolutely a red herring, this is being stated by people who haven’t even looked at the study,” said Dr Bob Morris physician and an environmental epidemiologist who was speaking from Seattle Washington.
The NTP made an announcement of its findings a day after Microwave news broke the story of the pending announcement.
“We’re releasing the findings at this time because we believe they may contribute to the longstanding discussion over the potential for health effects from radio frequency radiation.
“We’ve provided this information to our regulatory agency partners.
“I emphasise that much work needs to be done to understand the implications, if any, of these findings from the rapidly changing cellular technologies that are in use today,” said John Butcher, Associate Director, National Toxicology Program.
This week saw a wave of conflicting messages on the web that has been coupled with extensive criticism on how media initially reacted to the story. Forbes medical and science writer, Matthew Herper wrote: “Are journalists ready to engage with this kind of faster-paced science?
“Yesterday’s performance doesn’t make me optimistic.
“The first reporting fell too much on the scary side, and the rest of us were caught flat-footed.
“The government NTP seemed unprepared for the story, hosting a noon press conference in which reporters asked tense questions about problems with the study and didn’t get many answers,” he said in a column on May, 28.
Associated Press science writer Seth Borenstein in a video blog said: “ This is not changing the way they (researchers) use their cellphones.
… “Nothing is definitive about this, this study raises all sorts of (sic), raises more questions than it answers, so what it does do is take this issue that sort of was decided and brings it back up there,” said Borenstein.
One of the review scientist from the National Institute of Health comments read, “I am unable to accept the authors’ conclusions. ”
But Dr Devra Davis, author of Disconnect says because this study is the largest ever done, and because it’s been done by one of the most respected research groups in this field i.e. National Toxicology Program, it really is a profound change, it might even be called a paradigm change.
“Precisely because previous beliefs were that the only effect to be concerned with phones were at levels that generated heat.
“The levels in this study were set so that it didn’t cause a measurable temperature change in the animals, and yet despite that lack of change in temperature there were effects demonstrated.
“You see a well- orchestrated effort to create confusion and doubt about what this study means,” said Davis.
All 7 billion of the world’s cellphones have been set to avoid heating, if the NTP and other research is anything to go by, it may be a long stretch before the telecoms industry and governments admit to what has been dubbed the 21 century’s biggest health scandal.
“While we are debating this we are also conducting a massive human experiment in human history.
“If you look at the dramatic rises in the uses of cellphones in the last 20 years, it is going at a rate that suggests we are absolutely certain there is no risk and that is just not the case.
“This is very similar to what the tobacco industry did, they can’t admit any risk at all and so they try to defeat even the simplest calls for precautions in terms of cellphone because to do so would mean they acknowledged a risk and they simply can’t do that.
“This is what we up against,” said Dr Morris.
“Perhaps what the industry would like to do is provide a consent form asking if people want to be part of this human experiment,” Morris said.
(cf. Johansson O, “Disturbance of the immune system by electromagnetic fields — A potentially underlying cause for cellular damage and tissue repair reduction which could lead to disease and impairment”, Pathophysiology 2009; 16: 157-177).