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”

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Red Fox

cell-phone use is about free choice, just as smoking cigarettes is about free choice, just as driving a vehicle that pumps a known pollutant into the air is free choice. There are people starving in the world, without access to water, the environment is being eliminated around us, and the next big cause is to end cell phone use. The problem with cell phones as with cigarettes or any tool is that people abuse them. Instead of heeding Socrates two-thousand year old advice to "live a life of Moderation" people instead live a life in excess. It is impossible in today's world to get away from the endless toxins and exposures that are all around us, we live in a toxic world. The best we can do is to use things in moderation and move are attention to the bigger causes that are more immediate and impact-ful. If your worried about the effects of using a product, don't use it, but other people have a right to make there own choice and shouldn't be forced otherwise. As a society we need to get out of worrying and thinking about these small culture issues; we need to get back to the big picture. In the 1920's, people were wondering what shape the world was taking, what kind of governments they would have, what the future would hold; they were not asking themselves whether cigarettes were healthy or not. Just as in the 1960's people were not asking whether their products were contaminated with mercury or lead, they were fighting to end a war. I sure hope future generations don't become the laughing stock of the historical world which reminds us of our gigantic responsibility to spread freedom and equality, which demands we look at the world with bigger eyes.

Red Fox

cell-phone use is about free choice, just as smoking cigarettes is about free choice, just as driving a vehicle that pumps a known pollutant into the air is free choice. There are people starving in the world, without access to water, the environment is being eliminated around us, and the next big cause is to end cell phone use. The problem with cell phones as with cigarettes or any tool is that people abuse them. Instead of heeding Socrates two-thousand year old advice to "live a life of Moderation" people instead live a life in excess. It is impossible in today's world to get away from the endless toxins and exposures that are all around us, we live in a toxic world. The best we can do is to use things in moderation and move are attention to the bigger causes that are more immediate and impact-ful. If your worried about the effects of using a product, don't use it, but other people have a right to make there own choice and shouldn't be forced otherwise. As a society we need to get out of worrying and thinking about these small culture issues; we need to get back to the big picture. In the 1920's, people were wondering what shape the world was taking, what kind of governments they would have, what the future would hold; they were not asking themselves whether cigarettes were healthy or not. Just as in the 1960's people were not asking whether their products were contaminated with mercury or lead, they were fighting to end a war. I sure hope future generations don't become the laughing stock of the historical world which reminds us of our gigantic responsibility to spread freedom and equality, which demands we look at the world with bigger eyes.

Anonymous

How are those choices you mentioned different than the choice of not having children in a region where there's a lack of food and water? Getting pregnant is not a disease nor a virus that can suddenly hit you. What about the choice of staying in a region with a lack of food and water? Unless people are convinced they don't have a choice. And guess who is responsible for that piece of manipulation? Governments, traditional schools, churches and big corporations. Maybe you and I can see through the manipulation of control. The youth certainly can't. We should find out why there's an excess in people's urge for the next new product. If there's a negative effect to electromagnetic radiation, I want to know about that. Just like I want to know why there are food and water shortages in some regions. And then there are the millions of other lifeforms we share this planet with, who cannot make any choice but suffer the consequences of our toxic industries.

Anonymous

How are those choices you mentioned different than the choice of not having children in a region where there's a lack of food and water? Getting pregnant is not a disease nor a virus that can suddenly hit you. What about the choice of staying in a region with a lack of food and water? Unless people are convinced they don't have a choice. And guess who is responsible for that piece of manipulation? Governments, traditional schools, churches and big corporations. Maybe you and I can see through the manipulation of control. The youth certainly can't. We should find out why there's an excess in people's urge for the next new product. If there's a negative effect to electromagnetic radiation, I want to know about that. Just like I want to know why there are food and water shortages in some regions. And then there are the millions of other lifeforms we share this planet with, who cannot make any choice but suffer the consequences of our toxic industries.

thinking

this is certainly an issue that needs more attention and study.

i've thought of it for quite a few times, and i believe it is time for us to look at it more carefully.

thinking

this is certainly an issue that needs more attention and study.

i've thought of it for quite a few times, and i believe it is time for us to look at it more carefully.

Dr

First of all having a study funded by the industry that produces a product in question is a valid criticism because of the ease in which data can be manipulated. Second of all, this shouldn't be a debate. Radiation causes cancer, cell phones release radiation that permeates into all tissues within a close proximity to the device. There is a lot of evidence on this and you won't catch the world's top neurosurgeons carrying their phones on them any more than necessary. Whats worse is that cell phones might be responsible for the decline in bee population, but that's another story.

Dr

First of all having a study funded by the industry that produces a product in question is a valid criticism because of the ease in which data can be manipulated. Second of all, this shouldn't be a debate. Radiation causes cancer, cell phones release radiation that permeates into all tissues within a close proximity to the device. There is a lot of evidence on this and you won't catch the world's top neurosurgeons carrying their phones on them any more than necessary. Whats worse is that cell phones might be responsible for the decline in bee population, but that's another story.

Dr

And about free choice, that is true, we should be able to make our own decisions. Too bad I live in America and people choose whatever satisfies their current want or desire no matter the consequence to their health or environment. Over 2/3 of americans are obese, which is their choice. But their choice costs the country millions of dollars in healthcare costs each year.

Dr

And about free choice, that is true, we should be able to make our own decisions. Too bad I live in America and people choose whatever satisfies their current want or desire no matter the consequence to their health or environment. Over 2/3 of americans are obese, which is their choice. But their choice costs the country millions of dollars in healthcare costs each year.

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