Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Study links heavy cell phone use to cancer

Another stupid epidemiological study relying on self-reports. If they had asked enough questions, they would probably have found several correlates of tumor incidence -- all by chance

Scientists claim to have found a link between heavy cell phone usage and cancer of the salivary gland. The researchers suggest people use handsfree cell phones to avoid a risk.

The findings by Siegal Sadetzki, an epidemiologist at Tel Aviv University in Israel, and colleagues appear in the Feb. 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. The group found that heavy cell phone users faced a higher risk of both benign and malignant tumors in the gland.

People who used a cell phone heavily on the side of the head where the tumor developed were found to have an about 50 percent higher risk for developing a tumor of the main salivary gland, or parotid, compared to noncell phone users, the researchers wrote.

The study was done on Israelis, which is a key because Israelis adopted cell phone technology early and use it heavily, Sadetzki said. Thus the exposure to phone radiation found in this study was higher than in previous studies."This unique population has given us an indication that cell phone use is associated with cancer," added Sadetzki.

The study investigated nearly 500 people diagnosed with salivary gland tumors, and compared them to 1,300 healthy subjects. Participants were asked to detail how often and how long they typically talked on cell phones. The study also found an increased risk of cancer for heavy users who lived in rural areas. Because there are fewer antennas, cell phones in rural areas need to emit more radiation to communicate effectively.

Sadetzki predicts that, over time, the greatest effects will be found in heavy users and children. Risks from cell phones have been hard to prove, mainly due to the long time it takes cancer to develop, she said. "This technology is here to stay," Sadetzki said. "I believe precautions should be taken in order to diminish the exposure." She recommends people use handsfree devices, and hold the phone away from one's body. Less frequent and shorter calls are also preferable, she added.

Children may be more susceptible, so parents should limit youngsters' cell phone use and insist they use speakers or handsfree devices, she added. "Some technology that we use today carries a risk. The question is not if we use it, but how we use it."

Precisely how cell phones could affect the body is unclear, but a recent Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority study found their radiation might subtly change the biochemical makeup of skin. That research appeared in the Feb. 11 online issue of the journal BMC Genomics.


Insurers cash in on "obesity" hysteria

It's actually people of middling weight who live longest so this is just a scam

A "Fat tax" is being imposed on the obese, with life insurance firms charging at least 50 per cent more on their premiums. The increased charge can be as much as 300 per cent if obese applicants fall into other high-risk health categories, such as being a smoker or having previous medical conditions. All major insurance companies have introduced the policy, according to brokers.

Lifebroker Financial Assurance, Australia's leading online life insurance broker, told The Sunday Telegraph that overweight people should expect to pay higher premiums. Chantelle Pain, insurance consultant with the firm, said: "Some insurers are more lenient than others, but the premium which obese people pay ranges from 50 per cent extra. "Being significantly overweight means you are at greater risk of contracting certain diseases. It is the same as increasing a smoker's premium or someone who has previous medical conditions."

A body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more is attracting the price hike. This is assessed when you fill out an application form that requires you to provide your personal details including height and weight. A BMI of 20 to 25 for adults is considered healthy, but some doctors believe a BMI figure may not always be an accurate measure of health, as athletes often have a high weight-to-height due to the muscles built up for their sport.

For a healthy, non-smoking 55-year-old man with no weight problems, life insurance should cost about $1700 a year for $500,000 of cover. If he were obese, the annual premium could cost an extra $850.

While agreeing "there has to be consequences for lifestyle choices", Dr Steve Hambleton, a spokesman for the Australian Medical Association in Queensland, said companies were simply cashing in on the country's obesity crisis. "It seems rather opportunistic of insurers to be adding as much as 50 per cent on simply because someone is obese," he said.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

9). And how odd it is that we never hear of the huge American study which showed that women who eat lots of veggies have an INCREASED risk of stomach cancer? So the official recommendation to eat five lots of veggies every day might just be creating lots of cancer for the future! It's as plausible (i.e. not very) as all the other dietary "wisdom" we read about fat etc.

10). And will "this generation of Western children be the first in history to lead shorter lives than their parents did"? This is another anti-fat scare that emanates from a much-cited editorial in a prominent medical journal that said so. Yet this editorial offered no statistical basis for its opinion -- an opinion that flies directly in the face of the available evidence.

Even statistical correlations far stronger than anything found in medical research may disappear if more data is used. A remarkable example from Sociology:
"The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre's yield of cotton. He calculated the correlation coefficient between the two series at -0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower.... In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic conditions and lynchings in Raper's data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his analysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic conditions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added."
So we must be sure to base our conclusions on ALL the data. But in medical research, data selectivity and the "overlooking" of discordant research findings is epidemic.

"What we should be doing is monitoring children from birth so we can detect any deviations from the norm at an early stage and action can be taken". Who said that? Joe Stalin? Adolf Hitler? Orwell's "Big Brother"? The Spanish Inquisition? Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde? None of those. It was Dr Colin Waine, chairman of Britain's National Obesity Forum. What a fine fellow!


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