Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Life Saver Called "Plumpynut"

Here is a news story that perfectly makes the case for nutrition's importance. This story involves starving children in Niger, Africa, but the principles can apply to anyone.

To my chagrin I've been told by some top medical doctors that nutrition has no effect on human health and function. Nutrition is the basis for health! Every cell in the body needs the building blocks of nutrients in order to rebuild cells, organs, and systems. Nutrients are to the body what construction materials are to a house, except that the human house is constantly being built throughout the course of a lifetime.

Disease is always present in the absence of nutrients!

When starving and malnourished children are given a simple formulation of proteins, fats, and carbs fortified with vitamins and minerals they quickly reverse course in their physical health status.

"Now we have something. It is like an essential medicine. In three weeks, we can cure a kid that is looked like they're half dead. We can cure them just like an antibiotic. It’s just, boom! It's a spectacular response," Dr. Tectonidis says.

Hippocrates himself is attributed to having said, "Let food by thy medicine and medicine thy food."

For those of us in Western countries where starvation is not usually a problem you may wonder how this applies to you and your children. If your diets are full of junk food this too is a form of malnourishment! Empty calories with no nutritive value eaten as a habit over time will lead to a form of starvation. There are no hunger pangs but every cell in the body is deprived of the nutrients it needs to build as it can. This will effect your brain chemistry, hormone and neurotransmitter levels, bones, organ functions, skin, hair, teeth, nails, reproductive abilities, mood, etc. We simply must provide the building blocks.

What's the miracle formula?

"Plumpynut is a remarkably simple concoction: it is basically made of peanut butter, powdered milk, powdered sugar, and enriched with vitamins and minerals. It tastes like a peanut butter paste. It is very sweet, and because of that kids cannot get enough of it".



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"A hundred thousand people die every year because of adverse drug side effects."

"A hundred thousand people die every year because of adverse drug side effects." That's a quote from the article. That's just from side effects!!! 100,000 people every year! How is it possible for drug companies to still be in business?? Why do so many people put their faith in pills to fix their ills? Here's another unbelievable quote: "Nine out of ten drugs studied in humans turn out not to work or to be too toxic." And how about that 10th drug. Is it just less than too toxic or is it just a high priced placebo?Doesn't this make you a bit skeptical? OK, maybe you can believe an article from a trustworthy source like Forbes. Now what? If you're already on medications don't stop! That could be even more dangerous than first getting on them.Most people need a detox program with concurrent monitoring of salivary and urinary pH (acidity/alkalinity). 100% of the population is polluted with environmental toxins! Then give the body the nutrients it needs to repair.

Fixing Pharma

Stem cells could lead to better, safer drugs

Robert Langreth and Matthew Herper 06.16.08

Drug discovery is a cruel business. A hundred thousand people die every year because of adverse drug side effects. Millions die too young because drugs just aren't good enough.

The problem is that scientists invent medicines to treat people, but they have to use animal or tumor cells to do it. Heart cells, brain cells and liver cells all die when you try to keep them in a petri dish. So over decades researchers have come up with jury-rigged tests. They use preserved kidney cells extracted from a human fetus 30 years ago to see if an experimental drug will disrupt the rhythm of the heart. They use cells from a rat's digestive tract with human receptors stuck in. They force huge doses of every potential medicine down the throats of rodents. "The system is failing," says Gabriela Cezar, who left Pfizer to study stem cells at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
It's a testament to the ingenuity of pharmaceutical researchers that the system works at all. Nine out of ten drugs studied in humans turn out not to work or to be too toxic. Sanofi-Aventis, Pfizer and AstraZeneca have all had promising compounds go up in flames because of dangerous side effects. One solution may be to use embryonic stem cells to test drugs for safety and efficacy. "You should be able to get rid of some of the nasty drugs before they even hit clinical trials," says uw-Madison stem cell pioneer James Thomson. "And we're able to do that today."

Two years ago Thomson founded Cellular Dynamics International, a biotech firm that uses embryonic stem cells to make beating human heart cells, something that's never before been available to drug companies. Thomson has avoided the business world as long as possible but now says it is time for his cells to go commercial. Roche is the first announced customer. Earlier this year it began tests with Thomson's heart cells to catch cancer drugs that are toxic to the heart. A rival company, Sweden's Cellartis, is developing ways to test drugs for liver toxicity (with AstraZeneca) and for birth defects (Pfizer).

Even bigger, but further off, is the potential that being able to study neurons in a dish will allow researchers to understand what causes Parkinson's or Lou Gehrig's disease. It could be that in 20 years almost every medical researcher is going to use embryonic stem cells as basic tools. "That is going to profoundly change medicine," says Thomson.

Catapulting this work forward is the discovery of ways to create cells that act like embryonic stem cells but without ever using embryos. Last year Japan's Shinya Yamanaka and Thomson simultaneously showed that adult human cells could be transformed into embryolike stem cells by activating only four genes using viruses. "That has galvanized the field," says Alexander Rod MacKenzie, head of basic research at Pfizer.

San Diego researcher Lawrence Goldstein is using these so-called induced pluripotent stem cells to make neurons that are "genetically identical" to those of Alzheimer's patients. He is collecting 50 skin samples from Alzheimer's patients in order to hunt for new drugs.
Wisconsin's Cezar has started a biotech called Stemina that is using stem cells to get to the roots of autism. Autism appears in a tenth of the children born to mothers who take the epilepsy drug valproate. Valproate is known to injure neurons, so Cezar is converting embryonic stem cells into live neurons and adding valproate to the sample. The neurons gush chemicals that she is comparing to those found in brain cells of people with autism. If there's a match, Cezar could be on a path toward diagnostic tests or drugs. Stemina is using a similar strategy for a range of potential drugs. "[Autism] is an epidemic," she says, "and we have no idea about the cause.
Next:
The Ultimate Turn-On

http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2008/0616/088.html

Doctors Vent Their Discontent

More on the current and looming health care crisis; medical doctors are increasingly dissatisfied with practicing medicine. Why? They love being doctors but hate the constantly increasing effects of managed care; the amount of paperwork and insurance denials for prescriptions and procedures. Only "3 percent said they were not frustrated by nonclinical aspects of medicine". With a constantly increasing load of patients from the Baby Boom generation and with all major diseases (CV disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's & Alzheimer's, etc.) on the rise this is a bad time to have overworked and disenchanted doctors who will no longer reccomend that young people go into medicine. The whole picture is disturbing and can only end up in a true crisis if something doesn't change.

June 17, 2008
Essay


Eyes Bloodshot, Doctors Vent Their Discontent


By SANDEEP JAUHAR, M.D.


“I love being a doctor but I hate practicing medicine,” a friend, Saeed Siddiqui, told me recently. We were sitting in his office amid his many framed medical certificates and a poster of an illuminated lighthouse that read: “Success doesn’t come to you. You go to it.”

A doctor in his late 30s, he has been in practice for six years, mostly as a solo practitioner. But he told me he recently had decided to go into partnership with another cardiologist; his days, he said, will be “totally busy.”
“Your days aren’t busy enough already?” I asked.

The waiting room was packed. He had a full schedule of appointments, and after he was done with his office patients, he was going to round at two
hospitals.

He smiled wanly. “Just look at my eyes.”
They were bloodshot.

“This whole week I haven’t slept more than about six hours a night.”

I asked when his work usually got done.

“It is never done,” he replied, shaking his head. “See this pile?”

He pointed to five large manila packages on a shelf above his desk. “These are reports I still have to finish.”
As a physician, I could empathize. I too often feel overwhelmed with paperwork. But my friend’s discontent seemed to run much deeper than that. Unfortunately, he is not alone. I have been hearing physician colleagues voice a level of dissatisfaction with medical practice that is alarming.

In a survey last year of nearly 2,400 physicians conducted by a physician recruiting firm,
locumtenens.com, 3 percent said they were not frustrated by nonclinical aspects of medicine. The level of frustration has increased with nearly every survey.

“It will take real structural change in the work environment for physician satisfaction to improve,” Dr. Mark Linzer, an internist at the
University of Wisconsin who has done extensive research on physician unhappiness, told me. “Fortunately, the data show that physicians are willing to put up with a lot before giving up.”

Not long ago, fed up with what he perceived as a loss of professional autonomy, Dr. Bhupinder Singh, 42, a general internist in New York, sold his practice and went to work part time at a hospital in Queens.

“I’d write a prescription,” he told me, “and then insurance companies would put restrictions on almost every medication. I’d get a call: ‘Drug not covered. Write a different prescription or get preauthorization.’ If I ordered an
M.R.I., I’d have to explain to a clerk why I wanted to do the test. I felt handcuffed. It was a big, big headache.”

When he decided to work in a hospital, he figured that there would be more freedom to practice his specialty.
“But managed care is like a magnet attached to you,” he said.

He continues to be frustrated by payment denials. “Thirty percent of my hospital admissions are being denied. There’s a 45-day limit on the appeal. You don’t bill in time, you lose everything. You’re discussing this with a managed-care rep on the phone and you think: ‘You’re sitting there, I’m sitting here. How do you know anything about this patient?’ ”

Recently, he confessed, he has been thinking about quitting medicine altogether and opening a convenience store. “Ninety percent of doctors I know are fed up with medicine,” he said.

And it is not just managed care. Stories of patients armed with medical knowledge gleaned from the Internet demanding
antibiotics for viral illnesses or M.R.I. scans for routine symptoms are rife in doctors’ lounges. Malpractice worries also remain at the forefront of many physicians’ minds, compounded by increasing liability premiums that have forced many into early retirement.

In surveys, increasing numbers of doctors attest to diminishing enthusiasm for medicine and say they would discourage a friend or family member from going into the profession.

The dissatisfaction would probably not have reached such a fever pitch if reimbursement had kept pace with doctors’ expectations. But it has not.

Doctors are working harder and faster to maintain income, even as staff salaries and costs of living continue to increase. Some have resorted to selling herbs and
vitamins retail out of their offices to make up for decreasing revenue. Others are limiting their practices just to patients who can pay out of pocket.

There are serious consequences to this discontent, the most worrisome of which is that it is difficult for doctors who are so unhappy to provide good care.

Another is a looming shortage of doctors, especially in primary care, which has the lowest reimbursement of all the medical specialties and probably has the most dissatisfied practitioners.

Last year, residency programs in family practice took only 1,096 graduating medical students, the fewest in the last two decades. The number increased just slightly this year. Students who do choose internal medicine increasingly are forgoing primary care for subspecialty practices like cardiology and gastroenterology.
“For me it’s an endless amount of work that I can never get through to do it properly,” said Dr. Jeffrey Freilich, 38, a primary-care physician on Long Island. “I’m a bit compulsive. As an internist, I have to worry about working up so many conditions —
anemia, thyroid problems and so forth. There is no time to do it all in a day.

“On top of all that, there are all the
colonoscopies and mammograms you have to arrange, and all the time on the phone getting preauthorizations. Then you have to track the patient down. And none of it is reimbursed.”

Many primary-care physicians have stopped seeing their patients when they are hospitalized, relying instead on hospitalists devoted to inpatient care. Internists have told me that it is prohibitively inefficient to drive to a hospital, find parking, walk to the wards, examine a patient, check laboratory tests and vital signs, talk to a nurse and write orders and a note — for just a handful of cases. They cannot afford to leave their offices long enough to do it.


The upshot is that the doctor who knows a patient best is often uninvolved in her care when she is hospitalized. This contributes to the poor coordination and wanton consultation that is so common in hospitals today.

“Years ago you had one or two doctors,” a hospitalized patient told me recently. “Now you’ve got so many people coming in it’s hard to know who’s who.”

A 10.6 percent cut in
Medicare payments to physicians is scheduled to take effect on July 1. Further cuts are planned in coming years. Many doctors have told lawmakers that if the cuts go through, they will stop seeing Medicare patients. But reimbursement cuts are only a small part of doctors’ woes today.
“I was na├»ve,” Saeed Siddiqui said. “When I was a resident I thought it was enough to take good care of patients. But the real world is totally different.”


Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, a cardiologist on Long Island, is the author of a new memoir, “Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/health/views/17essa.html?ex=1371355200&en=505c2fbd5bfe4f7f&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Science Of Sleep

What health issue can be the centerpiece of diabetes, obesity, lack of appetite control, and other major health problems? Not getting enough sleep. Watch Parts 1 and 2 for details and feel free to comment!



Sunday, June 15, 2008

What Happened to Russert

The main points here to take home are: he had no symptoms, he was on meds, and he was excercising. People think that there's a problem only if there's pain. This is the biggest mistake you can make!!!! Yes, I'm yelling at you!!! Underline this and put it where you'll see it everyday. This is the single most important and most difficult point I find in getting through to patients. Pain is a lousy indicator of your health. It is often late in onset and leaves early but the underlying problem is there and ready to strike. Do you know the first signs of many heart attacks? The heart attack itself. By that time it's too late. How about certain cancers like pancreatic? Asymptomatic until the end stage. Too late again.
The 5th paragrpah is the most important paragraph, beginning, "A sudden cardiac arrest is, of course, unexpected, but the process that causes it may begin many years before..." Take note of "inflammation" and the latent nature of the disease.


The science of sudden cardiac arrest

Mary Carmichael and Caitlin McDevitt
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 11:15 AM ET Jun 14, 2008

Journalists and politicians across the country were in shock Friday afternoon at news that Tim Russert, the prominent and beloved NBC correspondent, had collapsed and died suddenly of a heart attack in the network's Washington office. Russert had previously been been diagnosed with several risk factors for a sudden heart attack, including coronary artery disease and diabetes. But his death is still a sad reminder that cardiac arrest can strike anyone without warning—and that when it does, it is often fatal.

Sudden cardiac arrest accounts for 310,000 deaths in America every year, or 850 a day—more than those caused by breast cancer, lung cancer, stroke, and AIDS combined. But despite how common the condition is, doctors know little about what predisposes one person to it and not another. The National Institutes of Health is currently mounting a major study at 60 trial sites across the country to try and identify risk factors related to both genes and lifestyle, and will begin enrolling patients this week. For now, says Jeffrey Olgin, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, assessing risk is "a very, very difficult thing. I can't look at you and say you have a 10 percent chance of dying from this."

Doctors do know that a previous history of heart attacks is the most important risk factor. Vice President Dick Cheney, who has suffered four heart attacks, wears a pacemaker to ward off sudden arrest. Age and gender also play roles, and as a 58-year-old male, Russert was in high-risk groups; the average age for suffering sudden cardiac death is between 58 and 62. Other factors involved in all forms of cardiovascular disease—family history, smoking, diabetes, and obesity—can come into play. Russert had some of these too; he had been previously diagnosed with diabetes and and coronary artery disease, and his autopsy on Friday showed an enlarged heart. But doctors do not know which of these factors is most important in causing a sudden heart attack, or why. They also do not know if stress plays a role at all; the data is unclear. "Most of us do not think it is terribly relevant," says Steven Nissen, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and a past president of the American College of Cardiology. After all, he notes, "many people in this world have stressful jobs," and they don't all die of of heart attacks.

What is clear is that there are ways to lower one's risk of sudden cardiac death: eat healthy, exercise, don't smoke, and take aspirin or statins. The trouble, though, is that patients often don't think they're at serious risk until they are actually experiencing an attack. In about a third of all sudden deaths due to coronary disease, death is the first sign that anything major is wrong. Russert himself was exercising and taking medication for his coronary artery disease, which was asymptomatic. He performed well in a stress test two months ago.

A sudden cardiac arrest is, of course, unexpected, but the process that causes it may begin many years before. "In middle-aged men, it's virtually always caused by degeneration in the wall of a coronary artery," says Dr. Thomas Risser, a cardiologist at Cambridge Health Alliance. "It starts with fat deposits and inflammation, and these plaques just lie there silently." They can do so for decades until one of them fractures, at which point the body tries to plug the hole with a blood clot—and ends up blocking off the whole blood vessel. This condition is known as a coronary thrombosis, and it is extremely dangerous. The heart muscle, now starved for oxygen-rich blood, falls out of rhythm; it quivers but doesn't pump. "In the final stage, the ventricle looks like a bag of worms. It's chaotically beating very fast and therefore is completely inefficient at pumping blood," says Olgin. "Soon, there's no blood flow anywhere, including the brain, and people just suddenly collapse."

Once a patient's heart has gotten out of a normal rhythm, it can't get back on beat on its own. But a defibrillator—either an internally implanted one such as Cheney's, or an external one with electrical paddles—can get the heart beating steadily again, provided it is used in time. "If people get there with an external defibrillator within three minutes of a collapse, the survival rate for the kind of thing Russert may have had can be as high as 50 percent," says Robert J. Myerburg, a cardiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "But time is the whole issue. If you rely on fire/rescue teams to bring one, the chance of survival drops seven to ten percent" with every minute that passes after a collapse. It's unclear whether Russert had access to a defibrillator. His internist said on Friday that "resuscitation" had begun immediately after the collapse and continued at the hospital, to no avail.


URL: http://www.newsweek.com/id/141450

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Aspartame promotes grand mal seizures, say health experts

If you eat or drink anything with aspartame/NutraSweet in it this is a must to read!

http://www.naturalnews.com/008952.html

From NaturalNews.com

A nursing infant developed convulsions after his mother drank an aspartame-sweetened soft drink. A 19-year-old woman went into grand mal convulsions within minutes of chewing a piece of aspartame-flavored gum. A small amount of toxin can push the human body into near-fatal conditions, regardless of whether the toxin is considered “safe” and sold on grocery and convenience store shelves around the world. Aspartame, the artificial sweetener that often flavors sugar-free drinks and foods, has been known to induce convulsions and grand mal seizures in certain individuals. So why is it still on peoples’ shopping lists?

In 1987, scientists and aspartame-sensitive seizure patients made the government aware of the link between the consumption of aspartame and the onset of seizures and convulsions, reports Dr. H.J. Roberts in Aspartame (NutraSweet): Is It Safe. On November 3, 1987, the U.S. Senate held a hearing entitled “‘NutraSweet’ — Health and Safety Concerns.” In this hearing, people from a wide variety of occupations, including an Air Force pilot, told the Senate about their aspartame-induced grand mal seizures. These individuals reported that their seizures disappeared after abstaining from aspartame consumption.

By all ethical standards, the testimonials provided during this 1987 hearing — combined with the strong scientific evidence demonstrating the health dangers of aspartame — should have led to the banishment of aspartame-sweetened products from grocery shelves forever; yet, aspartame products are still abundant in our grocery stores and restaurants.

How aspartame damages human health
Aspartame is a synthetic chemical composed of the amino acids phenylalanine and aspartic acid. Each time you drink a diet soft drink or chew sugarless gum, you are feeding unhealthy doses of these amino acids into your system, according to Dr. James Howenstine in A Physicians Guide to Natural Health Products that Work.

These amino acids can bypass the blood-brain barrier, enabling them both to directly alter your neurological function. Your brain naturally contains phenylalanine, but phenylalanine in its solitary form without its companion amino acids is not normally a part of the human diet. Debra Lynn Dadd, author of Home Safe Home, believes this is where the health problems posed by aspartame begin. Aspartame consumption provides phenylalanine in excess of your brain’s normal level. According to James A. May in Miracle of Stevia, this state of excess phenylalanine lowers the seizure threshold, thereby making convulsions more likely.

Researchers know that a raise in brain phenylalanine levels ultimately increases the risk of seizures. This is true even for people without a history of non-aspartame induced seizures, such as the Air Force pilot who testified in the 1987 hearing. However, researchers are still debating the exact role of increased brain phenylalanine levels in inducing seizures. Although many researchers believe that increased brain phenylalanine levels directly cause seizures and convulsions, Dr. Blaylock writes in Excitotoxins that it is “more likely … the direct excitatory effect of the aspartate itself. Phenylalanine may act to potentiate this irritability.” Regardless of the precise method, the combined neurological effects of excess phenylalanine and aspartic acid make aspartame a dangerous ingredient.

Aspartame Marketing Gimmicks
Advertisements for aspartame commonly portray aspartame as a “healthy” alternative to sugar. Such advertising makes aspartame even more dangerous to consumers who are ignorant of the artificial sweetener’s potential side effects. Because of this deceptive advertising, people concerned about their health and the health of their families regularly use aspartame-sweetened products. Rather than switching to a truly healthy diet and exercising more often, people concerned with weight loss may use sugar-free foods sweetened with aspartame to refrain from extra calorie consumption.

True, they’re “watching their calories,” but they are also putting themselves at risk of suffering from several aspartame-associated health consequences, including insomnia, dehydration, migraines, seizures and brain tumors. Dr. Roberts illustrates with an anecdote about the malignant consequences suffered by consumers because of this deceptive advertising: “A two-year-old with fever suffered seizures within 10 minutes after chewing aspartame-sweetened acetaminophen … This consideration may be significant to health-conscious mothers who elect to give their infants health products containing aspartame rather than sugar (such as vitamins) in an effort to prevent tooth decay.”

Imagine the guilt of a poor parent who gives his or her child aspartame-sweetened medication in an effort to make the child healthy or keep the child’s teeth free of cavities only to have the child suffer or even die from a grand mal seizure. Aspartame’s deceptive advertising is truly inexcusable.

If you’ve been drinking diet sodas and chewing sugarless gum for decades and you haven’t been experiencing convulsions, then consider yourself lucky that you apparently lack the biological tendency that puts you at risk for aspartame-induced convulsions or grand mal seizures. Other individuals have not been so lucky. Seizures aside, however, you may not turn out to be as lucky in avoiding the other health problems commonly associated with aspartame. You can read about these other possible side effects along with stevia, an alternative to both aspartame and natural sugar, at NaturalNews’s aspartame and stevia archives. Don’t gamble with your body – you’re only given one.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Experts Revive Debate Over Cellphones and Cancer

Do not hold a cell phone to your ear and do not, as some doctors in the NYT article suggest, use an earpiece. An earpiece actually intensifies the signal. Some earpieces have a wire which transitions into an air tube, thus conducting the sound over air waves. This is better than using a regualr wire.

The best cell phone use is minimal contact using the speakerphone.

An Israeli study showed definitively that cell phone radiation causes disruption in cellular DNA which in time could be cancer forming.

http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2007/10/brief_cellphone.html


June 3, 2008 NYT

Well


Experts Revive Debate Over Cellphones and Cancer

By
TARA PARKER-POPE

What do brain surgeons know about cellphone safety that the rest of us don’t?
Last week, three prominent neurosurgeons told the CNN interviewer
Larry King that they did not hold cellphones next to their ears. “I think the safe practice,” said Dr. Keith Black, a surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, “is to use an earpiece so you keep the microwave antenna away from your brain.”
Dr. Vini Khurana, an associate professor of
neurosurgery at the Australian National University who is an outspoken critic of cellphones, said: “I use it on the speaker-phone mode. I do not hold it to my ear.” And CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon at Emory University Hospital, said that like Dr. Black he used an earpiece.
Along with Senator
Edward M. Kennedy’s recent diagnosis of a glioma, a type of tumor that critics have long associated with cellphone use, the doctors’ remarks have helped reignite a long-simmering debate about cellphones and cancer.
That supposed link has been largely dismissed by many experts, including the
American Cancer Society. The theory that cellphones cause brain tumors “defies credulity,” said Dr. Eugene Flamm, chairman of neurosurgery at Montefiore Medical Center.
According to the
Food and Drug Administration, three large epidemiology studies since 2000 have shown no harmful effects. CTIA — the Wireless Association, the leading industry trade group, said in a statement, “The overwhelming majority of studies that have been published in scientific journals around the globe show that wireless phones do not pose a health risk.”
The F.D.A. notes, however, that the average period of phone use in the studies it cites was about three years, so the research doesn’t answer questions about long-term exposures. Critics say many studies are flawed for that reason, and also because they do not distinguish between casual and heavy use.
Cellphones emit non-ionizing radiation, waves of energy that are too weak to break chemical bonds or to set off the DNA damage known to cause cancer. There is no known biological mechanism to explain how non-ionizing radiation might lead to cancer.
But researchers who have raised concerns say that just because science can’t explain the mechanism doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist. Concerns have focused on the heat generated by cellphones and the fact that the radio frequencies are absorbed mostly by the head and neck. In recent studies that suggest a risk, the
tumors tend to occur on the same side of the head where the patient typically holds the phone.
Like most research on the subject, the studies are observational, showing only an association between cellphone use and cancer, not a causal relationship. The most important of these studies is called Interphone, a vast research effort in 13 countries, including Canada, Israel and several in Europe.
Some of the research suggests a link between cellphone use and three types of tumors: glioma; cancer of the parotid, a salivary gland near the ear; and
acoustic neuroma, a tumor that essentially occurs where the ear meets the brain. All these cancers are rare, so even if cellphone use does increase risk, the risk is still very low.
Last year, The American Journal of Epidemiology published data from Israel finding a 58 percent higher risk of parotid gland tumors among heavy cellphone users. Also last year, a Swedish analysis of 16 studies in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine showed a doubling of risk for acoustic neuroma and glioma after 10 years of heavy cellphone use.
“What we’re seeing is suggestions in epidemiological studies that have looked at people using phones for 10 or more years,” says Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News, an industry publication that tracks the research. “There are some very disconcerting findings that suggest a problem, although it’s much too early to reach a conclusive view.”
Some doctors say the real concern is not older cellphone users, who began using phones as adults, but children who are beginning to use phones today and face a lifetime of exposure.
“More and more kids are using cellphones,” said Dr. Paul J. Rosch, clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at New York Medical College. “They may be much more affected. Their brains are growing rapidly, and their skulls are thinner.”
For people who are concerned about any possible risk, a simple solution is to use a headset. Of course, that option isn’t always convenient, and some critics have raised worries about wireless devices like the Bluetooth that essentially place a transmitter in the ear.
The fear is that even if the individual risk of using a cellphone is low, with three billion users worldwide, even a minuscule risk would translate into a major public health concern.
“We cannot say with any certainty that cellphones are either safe or not safe,” Dr. Black said on CNN. “My concern is that with the widespread use of cellphones, the worst scenario would be that we get the definitive study 10 years from now, and we find out there is a correlation.”
well@nytimes.com
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company