Bill Singer's Head To Explode from Cellphone Use, Says WHO

June 1, 2011

You ever have one of those days where things go from bad to worse to whatever's worse than worse …worstest?

Today is the day after after the Monday Memorial Day holiday; I'll be turning 60 in a few more weeks; it's very hot in New York City today; they're digging up the street outside my window and the noise is unbearable; I don't really feel like working today; I'll be turning 60 in a few more weeks, my plan to lose 20 pounds in two months has now been adjusted to a longer horizon of two years (maybe because of the Tequila I consumed over the holiday?); I can't figure out whether to dump my PC-based laptop for an Apple, is that a bald spot developing on the top of my head?; is the stock market is headed up, down, or sideways?;  and, oh, by the way, did I tell you that I'll be turning 60 in a few more weeks?

In any event, like I said, I'm not necessarily in the best of moods today. A few minutes ago, while I'm watching my trading screen, this really upsetting bit of news came across the crawl: IARC's evaluation of carcinogenicity potential of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields  

Okay, yeah, not exactly the poetry of the Mayan end of the world or the recent failed Rapture, but, whoa, that carcinogenic radiofrequency stuff is pretty bad.  In case you can't quite translate that scientific jargon, it essentially means that your use of your cellphone could be killing you.  Which is great, given the fact that I just spent about two years debating whether to dump my old Samsung clamshell for one of those new smartphones and after much gnashing of teeth, I went whole hog and bought a spanking new iPhone. 

A new smartphone as in the cellphone that's basically welded to my ear, which is pretty close to whatever's left of my brain. That brain which will soon be 60.  Did I mention that I'll be turning 60 soon?

Apparently, this story originated with the World Health Organization ("WHO") . That international organization released a May 31, 2011, report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer ("IARC").  I don't know about you, but I didn't necessarily connect "cancer" and "cellphone" when I was doing my months of comparative shopping. And, honestly, I don't recall seeing any ads touting a particular brand as equivalent to a filter cigarette - that whole clever marketing ploy about how one brand is less deadly than the other but will get you in the end anyway.

Why the hell did I have to click the link  on this story is beyond me since I knew that the whole cancer and cellphone story was going to upset me and really wasn't something that I necessarily should be reading today. All of which sort of reminded me about the time when I saw this huge crowd of folks in midtown Manhattan, standing on a sidewalk, looking up at the top of a building across the street. Being the typically nosy New Yorker, I asked someone what was going on.  A few voices said that there was supposedly a sniper in the building.  Of course, being the idiot that I was (and not quite near 60 at the time, with a whole long life ahead of me), I too started looking up and squinting at various windows and the top of the roof. After a few seconds it sort of hit me - what the hell am I doing standing on the sidewalk looking to see if there's a sniper in the building across the street?  So, of course, I quickly made my way out of that gaggle of morons.

Which leads me back to today's cellphone story.  Trust me, there's a connection there between the sniper and the cancer-cellphones - no, I'm not exactly sure why but it's there. Then again, I'm almost 60, so things are somewhat warped in my mind to begin with.  The opening paragraph to the IARC Press Release states:

Lyon, France, May 31, 2011 ‐‐ The WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer1, associated with wireless phone use.

I mean, are they kidding me?  What the hell does "possibly carcinogenic to humans" mean?  Is it or isn't it? Are you telling me not to continue to use my fancy-schmanzy iPhone?  Should I turn off the WiFi router in my apartment?  You didn't really publish a story that cellphones could "possibly" cause cancer, did you?  Were you trying to drive all of us crazy with fear? Don't you realize that some of us are turning 60 soon?

As I continued to read through the report, I came upon this conclusion:

Results

The evidence was reviewed critically, and overall evaluated as being limited2 among users of wireless telephones for glioma and acoustic neuroma, and inadequate3 to draw conclusions for other types of cancers. The evidence from the occupational and environmental exposures mentioned above was similarly judged inadequate. The Working Group did not quantitate the risk; however, one study of past cell phone use (up to the year 2004), showed a 40% increased risk for gliomas in the highest category of heavy users (reported average: 30 minutes per day over a 10‐year period).

So, lemme see if I got this.  Y'all went and broadcast a story, throughout the world, on the newswires, that cellphones could cause some kind of brain cancer, and, then, if anyone actually bothers to read the fine print of the actual report, you run smack dab into the language of "inadequate" evidence.

Don't get me wrong. I take this stuff very seriously.  I don't want brain cancer - particularly as I'm nearing 60. Most of the phone calls that I get these days are from idiots to begin with, so it's not really giving up a lot. Then there are all those jerks who get on the bus with the cellphone cradled between their ear and shoulder while they contort in a lost effort to extract their MetroCard from their pocket.  There are also those annoying folks who walk into you on the sidewalk while they're involved in an animated conversation that's usually about "So, like, you know, yeah, right, huh, huh, so, I'm walking on the street now and she says to me that I said to her that . . ."

Alas, here I am, an old man in a dry month reading about cellphone cancer on my aging laptop.