Are Cell Phones the New Cigarettes?

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

Posted by: Dr. Mercola | July 15 2010

Writing in the New York Times, Maureen Dowd wonders if cell phones could be the next cigarettes.

One study that followed people who began using cells as teenagers calculated a 400 percent increase in brain tumors after 10 years.

San Francisco has become the first city in the U.S. to pass legislation making cell phone retailers display radiation levels. The reaction of Big Business has been predictable.  According to Dowd:

"CTIA -- The Wireless Association ... issued a petulant statement that after 2010, it would relocate its annual three-day fall exhibition, with 68,000 exhibitors and attendees and '$80 million' in business, away from San Francisco ... So now we have Exhibit No. 1,085 illustrating the brazenness of Big Business."

Dowd proposes that they should be sending Gavin Newsom, San Francisco's Mayor, a bottle of good California wine instead, for caring about whether kids' brains get fried.

Sources:



Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Follow me on twitter Follow me on facebook

 “More Doctors Smoke Camels than Any Other Cigarette”
“For Digestion’s Sake, Smoke Camels”
“Not a Cough In a Carload“
“Blow In Her Face And She’ll Follow You Anywhere”
“Try Pall Mall. It’s The He-Man Aroma That Wows the Ladies!”

Have you ever heard these slogans?

Smoking was fashionable in the early 1900s. By the 1940s, there were many highly competitive brands of cigarettes from which smokers could choose.

Smoking was the IN thing to do, even for physicians.

In reality, most doctors were asked about their cigarette brand of choice just after being comped a carton of Camels!  You see, the devious deceptive corporate advertising strategies were actually in place well before you were born.

Most of you reading this are too young to remember the ads touting all the health benefits of cigarettes and portraying physicians smoking. These ads began appearing in various publications in the 1920s—including JAMA (Journal of the AMA), one of the most widely distributed medical journals.

It took nearly a century for truth to win out and defeat the corporate marketing fraud, but now science and the courts have definitively established the destructive effects of tobacco and we can all agree how absolutely foolish these ads appear.

But what many of us fail to appreciate is that there are massive similarities with the telecommunications and tobacco industries with respect to their manipulative and deceptive tactics to deceive you about the health dangers of their product.

You could also say the same thing about dietary sugar, genetically modified foods, and many dangerous prescription drugs still on the market.

Big Tobacco’s Fat Wallet and Thin Moral Integrity

Given what you know about tobacco’s effects on your health, you would expect every single person in America to have sworn off tobacco years ago. So why is Big Tobacco still responsible for 1 in 5 deaths in America?

Aside from the massively addictive nature of their products, they have deployed a masterful public relations campaign!

Tobacco companies have implemented sly tactics such as changing the focus of cigarettes away from the health risks, using personal responsibility and “choice” rhetoric, undermining science, and advertising their commissioning of health research. They have manipulated lawmakers and the media to create the illusion that they have your health interests at heart.

All this, while turning a $90 million annual profit from the sale of tobacco products!

Philip Morris International is the 94th most profitable company in the world—more profitable than Amazon.com, Google, and McDonalds.

Yes, even more cigarettes sold than Happy Meals.

And along with the fat wallet comes a fat legal bill, amounting to $200 million annually, to handle the multitude of lawsuits arising from the anguish of people suffering the ill effects of their products.

A cacophony of litigation has been the major driving force behind the Family Smoking and Tobacco Control Act, finally passed by Congress in June 2009 after 11 years of legal wrangling.

Sure seems a sad state of affairs when their legal bills are twice their profits. It would be far better to serve the customer by giving them better and safer products, eliminate the legal bills and generate more profit, but their model simply does not allow for that.

As much as these changes are a step in the right direction, it is “too little, too late” for millions of people who have lost their lives from the disastrous effects of tobacco—effects that were known about for many years before the government took action.

Perhaps those folks were simply waiting for the government to protect them, awaiting the feds’ final word.

Don’t Be Lured Into a False Sense of Security by the Delay Between Cause and Effect

There is often a delay of several years to decades between science and public policy—a time period that is critical in preventing irreversible health damage. By waiting for government regulations to change, it is often too late. Just as smoking doesn’t cause immediate signs of cancer, the latency period for brain tumors from radiation can be 10, 20, or even 30 years.

It is still too soon for most cell phone-induced brain tumors to show up!

Cell phones have been widely used for only about a decade, so we haven’t even hit the tip of the iceberg yet in terms of the REAL effects of cell phone exposure. If the cell phone popularity continues at its current rate—or increases, which is likely—we could be headed for a brain cancer epidemic, the likes of which the world has never seen.

Just as people don’t get lung cancer a few weeks or months into their smoking habit, there is a delayed effect between cell phone usage and brain tumor development.

Of course, not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer, and not every cell phone user will develop brain cancer. There are many variables that contribute to susceptibility.

But why risk it? Why gamble with your life?

Public Health Déjà Vu

It took nearly TWO DECADES for the government to take action after accepting the evidence that smoking was linked to lung cancer. The government accepted the link between smoking and lung cancer back in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that warning labels were required.

How long do you think it will be before the government takes similar action with regards to cell phone radiation? Or maybe fructose?

Don’t hold your breath waiting for your cell phone to come with a warning on the box.

Just as Big Tobacco did everything possible to keep you convinced cigarettes were safe, the cell phone industry will do whatever is necessary to keep you equally reassured.

In 2008, Americans spent 2.2 trillion minutes on mobile phones, which is an increase of 100 billion minutes from the year before. When you compare the meteoric rise of cell phones to the history of cigarettes, several similarities emerge:

  • Manufacturers and industry leaders either hide or debunk unfavorable study results and promote their products WITH RIDICULOUS CLAIMS, despite awareness of the significant dangers to public health.
  • Lobbies for both industries, and revenues generated from use taxes create conflicts of interest within the government.
  • Both industries have expensive, effective marketing campaigns aimed at every segment of society, including your children.
  • Massive amounts of scientific data exist proving the direct link between these products and life-threatening damage to your body.
  • Tobacco and cell phones are both addictive.

The link between cell phone use and brain tumors is no longer a hypothesis—it’s a well-substantiated fact, backed by more than 100 scientific studies. In 2008, Dr. Gautam Khurana, a Mayo Clinic-trained neurosurgeon with an advanced neurosurgery fellowship in cerebral vascular and tumor microsurgery, concluded:

“There is currently enough evidence and technology available to warrant industry and governments alike intaking immediate steps to reduce exposure of consumers to mobile phone-related electromagnetic radiation and to make consumers clearly aware of potential dangers and how to use this technology sensibly and safely.”

But perhaps the scales are just beginning to tip on the cell phone issue with the news that San Francisco just became the first city in the country to pass legislation forcing cell phone manufacturers to disclose each phone’s Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), meaning the amount of radio energy seeping into your body and brain.

The SAR must now be displayed prominently on the cell phone package to alert consumers to the potential danger. Hopefully other cities will follow suit to this “unpopular” but much needed legislation.

The Iraqi Information Minister and the Corn Refiners Association

You could draw the same parallels for the refined sugar industry as for the tobacco and cell phone industries.

Big Sugar is modeling itself after Big Tobacco, defending its products to the bitter end.

I am reminded of the Iraqi Information Minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, back in the “shock and awe” days of the Iraq War, defiantly proclaiming to the American press:

“I triple guarantee you, there are no American bombs falling on Baghdad. Never! They’re not even within 100 miles of Baghdad. They are not anyplace. This is an illusion...there are no American troops here...”

...as we all watched the bombs falling on Baghdad.

The Corn Refiners Association has it’s own “Information Minister” proclaiming that corn syrup is no different than sugar and is in no way responsible for obesity or diabetes or any other health problems, while data to the contrary is literally pouring out of research labs.

The science about the damaging effects of fructose could not be clearer, in terms of its link to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. Even the American Heart Association agrees that excess sugar is harmful.

The biggest defenders of processed sugar, of course, are the companies that sell it, and the federal agencies with financial ties.

For example, just look at the recent response by some agave industry representatives to our recent article on agave syrup! The “Agave Information Minister” put out an entire webpage of  “facts” in a desperate attempt to rescue its reputation, ranging from misleading statements to outright lies.

The Corn Refiners Association has been battling the truth about HFCS since 2004, launching a major public relations campaign in 2008 to rehabilitate the reputation of HFCS. Just as tobacco company operatives began appearing at medical conventions and in doctors’ offices, lavishing them with free cigarettes and propaganda, the refined sugar industry has partnered with the soda industry and others with shared interests to defend sugar’s tarnished image.

So, What has History Taught Us?

The bottom line is, you cannot wait for the government or anyone else to protect you.

Why wait for the industry to battle it out? The clock is ticking, and you could become one of their statistics.

There are things you can do to reduce your risk from cell phones, lower your sugar load, and avoid things like genetically modified goods, pesticides and chemicals. Start protecting yourself NOW—well before today’s advertisements look as ridiculous as the 1940 cigarette ads

(Send your news to foodconsumer.org@gmail.com, Foodconsumer.org is part of the Infoplus.com ™ news and information network)