Blackspot

Cancerphone

We are in the early stages of industry denial.

The first study linking cigarettes to cancer was published in 1939, but it took two decades of further medical research before the World Health Organization recognized this fact in 1960. And despite the unanimous consensus that cigarettes kill, Philip Morris – the world’s largest tobacco company – continued its campaign of denial until October, 1999, when it finally admitted on its website that cigarettes are deadly. It took 60 years for the cigarette/cancer connection to become an irrefutable fact. We are now beginning to repeat the same pattern, only this time with cell phones.

A recent article in GQ magazine , which should be required reading for all cell phone users, suggests that we are in the early stages of industry denial. A smattering of research indicates a connection between cell phones and cancer, but well-funded industry-backed studies refute this evidence. When I share this article with friends they often respond with a shrug of indifference, thereby indicating that cell phones have passed from luxury to necessity. Any risk of cancer has been relegated to the same category we accept when we drive a car or board a plane.

It’s disturbing that it’s easier for us to agree that the cell phone/cancer connection poses an acceptable risk than it is to imagine a world where cell phones have been banned. Perhaps this is because cell phones and smart phones are still considered cool – like cigarettes were in the 1950s. We envied the rebel’s pack of smokes just as we now lust after our neighbor’s iPhone.

It is time culture jammers launched a campaign to uncool the cancerphone. Only then will our society be able to have an honest discussion about the risks of wireless devices.

Micah White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters and an independent activist. He is writing a book on the future of activism. www.micahmwhite.com or micah (at) adbusters.org

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46 comments on the article “Cancerphone”

Displaying 11 - 20 of 46

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Anonymous

To compare cigarettes to cell phones is quite a stretch. The only thing cigarettes are used for is to help people relax or just to feed their addiction. Cell phones have --for the most part -- improved our quality of life. I mean really think if no one had a cell phone. There would be no way to reach someone unless you ran into them wherever them might be or managed to call while they were home. Think of how many peoples lives have been saved because someone had cell phone and could call for help. Now whether or not they cause cancer I don't know for sure. At any rate they can't be making you healthier. It comes to what you fear more, the possiblity of cancer or a lower standard of living?

"When I share this article with friends they often respond with a shrug of indifference, thereby indicating that cell phones have passed from luxury to necessity. Any risk of cancer has been relegated to the same category we accept when we drive a car or board a plane."

Anonymous

To compare cigarettes to cell phones is quite a stretch. The only thing cigarettes are used for is to help people relax or just to feed their addiction. Cell phones have --for the most part -- improved our quality of life. I mean really think if no one had a cell phone. There would be no way to reach someone unless you ran into them wherever them might be or managed to call while they were home. Think of how many peoples lives have been saved because someone had cell phone and could call for help. Now whether or not they cause cancer I don't know for sure. At any rate they can't be making you healthier. It comes to what you fear more, the possiblity of cancer or a lower standard of living?

"When I share this article with friends they often respond with a shrug of indifference, thereby indicating that cell phones have passed from luxury to necessity. Any risk of cancer has been relegated to the same category we accept when we drive a car or board a plane."

Anonymous

Tough luck adbusters. Paul Raeburn at the Knight Science Journalism Center Tracker has effectively ripped this dumb article to shreds.

Perhaps not using cell phones would help slow down our lives, but the science goes beyond a single GQ article, and you certainly can't compare them to cigarettes (that is unless we are talking about addiction.)

Anonymous

Tough luck adbusters. Paul Raeburn at the Knight Science Journalism Center Tracker has effectively ripped this dumb article to shreds.

Perhaps not using cell phones would help slow down our lives, but the science goes beyond a single GQ article, and you certainly can't compare them to cigarettes (that is unless we are talking about addiction.)

Anonymous

Actually, what Paul Raeburn said was "As somebody who covered studies on the possible hazards of electromagnetic radiation at the AP in the 1980s and 1990s, I came to the conclusion that there might be something here, perhaps something worthy of more study. I found the evidence far from conclusive that microwaves posed a risk, but I couldn’t entirely dismiss it, either."

Raeburn's problem was primarily with the way the GQ article was written: "The best investigative reporting should carefully lead readers through complicated material, clarifying and explaining as the journey continues, until everybody, writer and readers alike, can come out the other end with some information and understanding, enough to come to some kind of conclusion."

http://ksjtracker.mit.edu/2010/02/09/gq-is-your-cell-phone-hazardous-to-your-health/

Anonymous

Actually, what Paul Raeburn said was "As somebody who covered studies on the possible hazards of electromagnetic radiation at the AP in the 1980s and 1990s, I came to the conclusion that there might be something here, perhaps something worthy of more study. I found the evidence far from conclusive that microwaves posed a risk, but I couldn’t entirely dismiss it, either."

Raeburn's problem was primarily with the way the GQ article was written: "The best investigative reporting should carefully lead readers through complicated material, clarifying and explaining as the journey continues, until everybody, writer and readers alike, can come out the other end with some information and understanding, enough to come to some kind of conclusion."

http://ksjtracker.mit.edu/2010/02/09/gq-is-your-cell-phone-hazardous-to-your-health/

Dennis Rodie

I think the connection to cigarettes is excellent because unlike 60 years ago, the majority of people know now that smoking damages your health and in a significant number eventually leads to painful and fatal diseases. After the tobacco industry could no long deny the health hazards, they started with a massive doubt campaign. Causing doubt has made many people shrug and continue buying their poison, believing that there was confusion about the risks. This was mostly done by hiring scientists and PR firms and flooding the media with quasi-scientific reports. When cars turned out to be deliberately unsafe, Ralph Nader became the Whistleblower that resulted that cars these days are much safer than 30 years ago. Electromagnetic radiation is a health hazard and there is no doubt about that. There's also no doubt that mobile phones alter the brain. You can wonder if that's a good or bad thing and play a guinea pig or let your kids suffer the benefits because you want to know where they are all the time. Security over health over freedom. Health risks are almost always measured in physical ailments. That mobile phones negatively influence short-term memory is not considered a health risk.

Dennis Rodie

I think the connection to cigarettes is excellent because unlike 60 years ago, the majority of people know now that smoking damages your health and in a significant number eventually leads to painful and fatal diseases. After the tobacco industry could no long deny the health hazards, they started with a massive doubt campaign. Causing doubt has made many people shrug and continue buying their poison, believing that there was confusion about the risks. This was mostly done by hiring scientists and PR firms and flooding the media with quasi-scientific reports. When cars turned out to be deliberately unsafe, Ralph Nader became the Whistleblower that resulted that cars these days are much safer than 30 years ago. Electromagnetic radiation is a health hazard and there is no doubt about that. There's also no doubt that mobile phones alter the brain. You can wonder if that's a good or bad thing and play a guinea pig or let your kids suffer the benefits because you want to know where they are all the time. Security over health over freedom. Health risks are almost always measured in physical ailments. That mobile phones negatively influence short-term memory is not considered a health risk.

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