Rats revive phones-and-cancer scares

Study good for a headline, not much else

Mobile phones do cause cancers – and rats' cells are modulation-sensitive. That's what emerges from a preliminary study dropped on a pre-print server by America's National Toxicology Program.

That news comes a few weeks after a huge study covering decades found that mobile phones weren't killing us.

The new study hit the headlines with headlines claiming a “cancer link” had been found in the preliminary results of work under the US National Toxicology, released on the pre-print Biorxiv server.

In the study of 90 rats getting varying doses of 900 MHz radiation (from zero, to beneath America's maximum 1.6 W per kilogram of weight, up to four times that dose), two kinds of cancers attracted the researchers' attention: malignant glioma, and glial cell hyperplasia.

However, it hasn't taken long for researchers to note several problems: the study had a small sample size; irradiated rats lived longer than those that got no dose; the cancers appeared only in male rats; and nobody's proposed a mechanism for the signals to cause the cancers.

There's another oddity that's received less attention: the alleged cancer link is modulation-dependent, it seems. One example of that dependency is in the table below.

Rat cancer CDMA vs GSM

GSM causes more cancer than CDMA ... yeah, right.

It seems wildly improbable to The Register that the difference between CDMA and GSM modulation somehow triggers a different response in rat DNA. ®

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