Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mobile phones may be death sentence?

Are mobile phones "more dangerous than smoking or asbestos"? So says Dr Vini Khurana in a study currently being hyped. His claim is that there is a brain cancer risk for long-term, 10 years or more, use of cell phones. This would be important, if true. What is the status of this research? The Independent (UK) writes:
[A] paper based on the research is
currently being peer-reviewed for publication in a scientific journal.
In other words, his claims have not yet gotten through even the first stage of scientific validation. His calling of press conferences to scare the general public on something that has not survived peer review is irresponsible.

Statistical studies claiming to link some action to some disease should never be believed until confirmed by other studies. It is the nature of statistics, discussed in detail here, to go wrong occasionally. If there is a genuine link between 10-years of cell phone exposure and certain malignant brain tumors, it will start to show up consistently in future studies. At the moment, one study links cell phones to one awful disease and the next study links them to some other awful disease. This is exactly the statistical pattern that one would expect if there were no link at all.

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