13-year-old newsflash! Cell phones are safe!

January 21, 2006  ·  Michael Fumento  ·  Weblog

It was 13 years ago, writing in Investor's Business Daily, that I became the first reporter in the country to present evidence that cell phones have no link to brain cancer. Now the biggest study ever on the issue has been released and it finds . . . cell phones have no link to brain cancer. Was I a genius? No, everybody else involved was just plain dumb. And this makes an especially good example of the incredible poverty of health and science reporting in the country, then and now.

It started when Larry King invited a man onto his show who claimed that since his wife developed a fatal brain tumor three months after she began using a cell phone and the tumor began on the same side of the head as she held it, the cancer simply must have resulted from phone emissions.

Yes, it really was that insipid. And it set off a panic. I had to point out that, believe it or not, people were getting brain tumors before cell phones were ever invented. I further noted that the American Cancer Society says 17,500 brain cancers are diagnosed each year, of which about two thirds are fatal, and already at that time about 4% of the population was using the type of cell phone that had an antenna attached to it (as opposed the older types with antennas on the car). That meant simple chance dictated 180 cell phone users would die of brain tumors. Larry King left unaccounted for 179.

Further, I had to point out that brain tumors simply don't manifest in three months. In fact, the average time from what's called the "insult" to diagnosis is nine years. Averages are just that, but three months? What an utterly bizarre claim. Yet no other reporter in the country bothered to look for these numbers, either because they didn't have the brains or they didn't have the integrity to dig up the evidence they knew would kill their own stories. Either way, trust me, nothing has changed with them.