The basic argument of the “doctrine of innocuity of waves” was that for purportedly “fundamental physics” reasons, there could be no non-thermal effects, i.e. effects resulting from anything else than heating and temperature increase. In particular, there could be no pro-cancer effect within official exposure limits.
But it is known since at least 2010 that this approach is wrong, not only as a general approach, but also for the particular case of cancer.
– the Interphone study, published in 2010, showed a statistical pro-cancer effect on heavy users of mobile phones (more than an hour/day). This study caused the WHO to recognize (in 2013) that radiofrequencies were a “possible carcinogen”. It was an international study implying hospitals in a number of countries.
– the Tillmann et al study, published in 2010, found an experimental pro-cancer effect (on mice, with a realistic simulation of UMTS exposure). This study, although rejected in 2013 by the WHO, was published by the Fraunhofer Institute (the largest applied research organization in Germany and Europe). This institution, which had an important role in German research programs on mobile telephony and had previously supported the “doctrine of innocuousness of electromagnetic waves” and the inexistence of pro-cancer effects below official exposure limits , thus changed its position.
Despite the recognized seriousness of their authors, these studies were not sufficient to convince “skeptics”. Therefore they were replicated:
– the Coureau et al study in 2014 en France, which confirmed the Interphone study, http://oem.bmj.com/content/early/2014/05/09/oemed-2013-101754
– the Lerchl et al study in 2015 in Germany, which confirmed Tillmann et al 2010. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006291X15003988
These replications were worked out by teams which were not previously implied on similar issues (France) or which previously supported the « doctrine of innocuity of electromagnetic waves” and the inexistence of pro-cancer effects below official exposure limits (Germany). These teams can thus not be suspected of having approached the problem with any bias favorable to the finding of pro-cancer effects.
On the scientific side, it is thus perfectly clear that non-thermal effects favoring cancer do exist below official exposure limits.
It is however not satisfactory to limit the approach to the sole results mentioned above. More than 20 years of research on mobile telephony were needed to reach some degree of consensus on the issue, and this is due to the issue being a complex one. The above-mentioned pro-cancer effects were obtained in precise and well-reproductible experimental conditions, but different experimental conditions yielded in the past to different results, sometimes neutral, sometimes anti-cancer.
This variety of results shows that there is a complex interaction between electromagnetic fields and cancer, rather than solely a “simple” interaction with a systematically pro-cancer effect.
The pro-cancer effect in Tillmann et al 2010 and in Lerchl et al 2015 was obtained with a near-permanent large band exposure, similar to the case of a base station. But when an exposure mimicking a GSM mobile phone was used, i.e. 1h/day, 200 kHz bandwidth (Adey et al 1999, Tillmann et al 2007) then an anti-cancer effect was found. And when an exposure similar to leaks from a microwave oven was used, i.e. virtually no bandwidth, corresponding to a wide majority of experimental studies, most results were negative except at very strong power, i.e. within official exposure limits there were no effects on cancer. Thus on an experimental basis, a realistic simulation with a sufficient bandwidth is needed to obtain effects on cancer, which can be pro-cancer for a near permanent exposure (base station) or anti-cancer for a 1h/day exposure (mobile phone use). In particular, the statement according to which “more than 40 animal studies have shown the absence of an effect on cancer of electromagnetic waves” is based on inappropriate studies that did not properly simulate digital communication systems (lack of bandwidth), and is thus fundamentally wrong. In the about 40 animal studies included in the IARC report of 2013, only 6 included transmission of pseudo-random data and thus bandwidth, and each of these 6 showed effects on cancer, sometimes promoting cancer and sometimes anti-cancer depending on exposure details.
The pro-cancer result of the Interphone and Coureau et al studies seems somewhat surprising in view of the animal studies which would rather show an anti-cancer effect on mobile phone users. Examining the data in detail, it is much less surprising. The pro-cancer effect is limited to the side of the brain which is on the side used for the mobile phone, and appears only for a heavy use of the mobile phone. For rare users of the mobile phone, the same studies show an anti-cancer effect as compared with non-users, in agreement with experimental results on mice. The pro-cancer effect of heavy phone use on part of the brain is thus an exception.
An anti-cancer effect means that the immune system becomes more aggressive with respect to cancerous cells, which resemble normal cells of the organism. It is thus logically accompanied by a pro-auto-immune effect, corresponding to an increased aggressiveness of the immune system with respect to normal cells in the organism, which are attacked “by error”. Indeed, the sole statistical study (Poulsen et al 2012) confirmed that mobile phone use increases the risk of developing multiple sclerosis or dying from it.
Observed facts are still more complex. Numerous experimental results were impacted by artificial electromagnetic waves present in laboratory environments (radio, TV, mobile telephony, wifi …) which scientists erroneously considered as negligible. Statistically confirmed pro-cancer effects on humans occur at much lower power than used for experiments on rats and are often attributable to temporary effects at onset or modification of an emitter (Lauer 2013, Wolf and Wolf 2004), although permanent pro-cancer effects also exist ( Dolk et al 1997b, explained in appendices of Lauer 2014b). Long term effects of exposure to GSM base stations are on average pro-auto-immune and anti-cancer (Spinelli et al 2010). Effects can depend on the type of cancer, for example skin melanoma or leukemia do not always behave like other cancers.
Complexity does not mean lack of effects. The fact that the situation is complex does not affect the existence of experimentally reproducible pro-cancer effects. Even though one may not understand what is happening.
However, for making appropriate decisions it is highly desirable to understand what is happening. This is what is proposed on this web site.
More détails can be found on the page “experimental/statistical“.
To understand the fundamentals please visit the page on physics biology