Experts Respond To ABC Catalyst's Claim That WiFi Could Be Linked To Cancer

A recent edition of the ABC’s Catalyst programme looked into the issues of the health effects of electromagnetic (EM) radiation. The episode "takes a closer look at the link between mobile phones and brain cancer, and explores whether our wireless devices could be putting our health at risk".

Dr Devra Davis stated on the show, "With respect to mobile phones and brain cancer, the reality is every single well-designed study ever conducted finds an increased risk of brain cancer with the heaviest users, and the range of the risk is between 50 per cent to eightfold. That's a fact."

Experts have now spoken out about the program's findings.

"I was particularly disappointed to see 'Wi-Fried' air yesterday in the guise of science journalism, and felt it important to reassure other viewers that the fringe position provided by Dr Davis and associates is merely that, a fringe position that is not supported by science," says Professor Rodney Croft, Director of the National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia’s Centre for Research Excellence in Electromagnetic Energy.

Dr Croft is also a current International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) Commissioner, and a Professor of Health Psychology at University of Wollongong.

"There is very strong scientific consensus that, even after considering such personal views as Dr Davis’, there is no substantiated evidence that the low levels of radiofrequency emissions encountered by mobile telecommunications can cause any harm. Of course it is impossible for science to demonstrate that anything is absolutely safe, and so regardless of whether we’re talking about Wi-Fi or orange juice, science cannot demonstrate absolute safety.

"However, given that radiofrequency emissions are one of the most heavily researched agents that science has ever assessed, and given that (contrary to Catalyst’s claims) no substantiated health effects have emerged, we can be very confident that the emissions are indeed safe."

Dr Croft points to the ICNIRP website as a resource for further information about the international consensus on the topic.

"During the program Prof Davis claims that the Australian brain cancer incidence rates (a graph was shown) cannot be used as evidence of no problem because brain cancer latency is 40 years," observes Dr Geza Benke, a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University. "This firstly contradicts her own argument then, because she spends a lot of time saying current studies are showing increased cancer risk!"

"Secondly, Prof Davis's claims are incorrect, since solid tumors have a much shorter minimum latency. This means we should be seeing increased rates now if there was an association. This reference also contradicts her claims that there are no environmental tumors that occur before 10 years."

Are you concerned about WiFi cancer risks? Would a definite link stop you from using it? Let us know in the comments below.



    God, this is the statins debacle all over again!

    Catalyst used to be the only TV show around which championed scientific progress, but now it's no better than Dr oz, a sham.

      Sadly, a number of friend of mine who have developed cancer had the cancer start at the point on their bodies next to where they carry their phones.

      Hey, who pays the NHMRCACREEE bills?

        The most statistically common cancers can easily be associated with the areas where people carry their phone. Or their keys. Or their pens.

        Correlation does not imply causation, and enough analysis has been done to virtually eliminate the probability of emf as a cause of any kind of cancer.

        This is the difference between anecdotal evidence and actual evidence.

          There has been analysis done and the evidence is not anecdotal, just not in the public eye. Neil Cherry did a detailed analysis of RF exposure and other scientists in Germany examined the issue and the science as far back as 2000 (Ecolog Review) and found definite concerns. Check your data before speaking 'anecdotal'. Too important to misinform people on this issue out of ignorance.

        Well then your friends are statistical anomalies, considering decades of evidence show most cancer starts in the breast, the colon, the lungs, and the skin (forearms, lower legs, nose, ears, neck).

    Yeah I saw a bit of that and it i couldn't help but draw lines between the kind of language they were using and the stuff the anti-vaxers go on about. I half expected them to start promoting their newest book on how to protect yourself from the dangers of wifi only $9.99.

    Still withholding judgment on the topic though. I use headphones if talking on the phone for a long time and have the wifi turned off when I sleep, doesn't hurt.

      The book's jacket folds out into a lovely tin foil hat!

      I also turn the WiFi (and mobile data) off while I sleep. Mostly to save battery, and to prevent being constantly woken by notifications.

    I've fashioned all my spare coat hangers into a wearable Faraday cage just in case

    I am usually the first to jump to the ABC's defence when they are accused of political bias, but this issue demonstrates a worrying trend at the ABC - a lack of editorial rigor.

    There appears to be a "tabloid-isation" of the ABC. Big headlines and dodgy research/investigative journalism.

    C'mon Aunty, lift your game.

      When you have a Federal Government that is anti-science, anti-evidence, and anti-peer-reviewed-research (anti the environment, human induced climate change, the CSIRO), you get public servants employed and or promoted to positions of editorial power who support their employer for fear of repercussion or unemployment.

      When you have a Federal Government that attacks free speech, unbiased journalism & public debate (journalists discussing the cons of the current implementation of the NBN, plebiscites & Q&A), you get a "tabloid-ised" government run media organisation.

      It ain't "Aunty" per se, it's the Liberal's ABC.

        This is tinfoil hat writ large!

        The ABC is editorially independent and funded by the PEOPLE for the PEOPLE not the government?

        Was the ABC better 3-4 years ago, NOPE! It is free to create it's own editorial dumpster fire without losing funding, suffering at all or being held to account.

        Stop equating styles of government with general malaise of journalism.

        Statin debacle proves it is a common thread with Catalyst.

      Agreed. "tabloidisation" will leech its way into everything. As generations are now bombarded by it, the only news that now catches our attention is something "bigger" than yesterday. Science isn't enough to "glare" through who the Kardashians are screwing. Science isn't enough, anymore, to "catch" our attention. Politics, now just a "business", has seeped into the ABC?

    I wonder if Dr Davis has similar concerns about wind farms...

    Using terms like 'artificial electrosmog' in her Guardian opinion article doesn't bolster Dr Demasi's credibility either.

    Last edited 17/02/16 1:56 pm

      Haha, what a hokey wad of nonsense!

      That kind of marketing buzzword HAS to be from.her best selling self help book of the same name.

        In many ways it's frustrating that she is still presenting on Catalyst - popular science it may be, but I'm sure that there are other presenters on the show that would disagree with her less-than-conventional stance on a few things, and their reputations are likely to be coloured by her approach.

        It's easy enough to distort a narrative by only interviewing proponents of one side of the argument, and for Dr Demasi to have done this twice (the previous story on statins, and this story), suggests that the producers of the show are happy to court controversy some of the time. I wonder whether this is an intentional ploy to increase viewership, or whether the producers are just ill-advised in giving fairly free rein to somebody who might benefit from a contrary voice to test the veracity of the claims being made.

        If the show wishes to run stories on issues that they feel are in the publish interest, that's fine - like it or not, there are certainly a large number of people who feel uneasy about the proliferation of wireless technologies, even if much of this unease is seated in a lack of education about the subject. But in doing that, it needs to provide a reasoned response and some criticism of the ideas being put forth by interviewees (i.e. more than just asking an interviewee 'are you lying about your work', and then uncritically accepting their answer), or it risks being labelled as tabloid journalism, which would be a shame.

    And now the ABC has joined the rest of our pathetic media in Australia in reporting rubbish and outright lying to increase the fear into our society. Remember, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

      And robots. Fear and robots.

        ATMs will be the first to charge when the machines rise up.

          Oh my God they are charging us already, run away.

          The ATMs have been building a war chest for several years now. Ask any banking executive about those $2.00 withdrawal fees and you'll get a blank look, because the ATMs are collecting that money for themselves, and they know not to charge certain people in order to avoid raising the alarm. And if you've ever seen an ATM that claims to be out of order, that's bullshit - weapons training.

    Yep, watched it and thought why can't you even tell the difference between, microwave and RF, yep look at the wave forms of each and to then use them as interchangeable is just plan hilarious.
    Note to catylst when US pseudo scientists call please hang up your reputation is now very much in the gutter as a result of these type show.

    And yes there is a whole industry to block out WiFi signals and microwave, special paints, covers for phones.. They even have consultants that come and test your house out for you.

    This is why humanity will fail we are still in the grip of superstition.

    Good luck everyone, and if a passing alien ship sees this post, could you please get me outta here.

      Are you being funny ?

      Of course there is no difference between microwave and RF, microwaves are a form of RF (a few bands of the spectrum of Radio-Frequency), in your oven and your wifi router.

      RF goes up to 100GHz (1*10^12Hz). Visible Light is only 2 orders of magnitude higher than that, relatively close.

    Well, looks like the cuts are working for the government. Be alarmed, not alert

    Last edited 17/02/16 3:28 pm

    Catalyst has gone to shit, I no longer watch it due to its capture by woo. Dr Davis is an odd one, a perfect example of the phenomena where a scientist does good work in one area and then over generalises it to everything else. Read this for a debunk of her shit - hard to believe the Catalyst crew did not find it (2010 dated)

      A bit like Linus Pauling - doing work that is well-regarded in one area doesn't mean that everything you think is correct.

      (Edited out a reference to a 'great scientist' - it didn't seem entirely appropriate here...)

      Last edited 17/02/16 4:45 pm

        Is he the one that went nuts on Vitamin C??

          Yeah, that's the one. He thought that it would cure everything if you take enough of it, basically.

          Last edited 10/03/16 12:59 pm

    If we could just go back 200 years when we had no electromagnetic radiation...........

    Except for the HUGE amounts of natural radiation (X-Rays, Gamma Rays and Radio Waves) from the Sun. Naturally occurring terrestrial sources arise from the radioactive decay like radon gas etc.

    We are build to withstanding em radiation, its no problem people. Just remember, if you want to reduce your cancer risk, just never go outside......

      Or inside.

      gypsum emits ionising radiation

      (whole other ball game to "low frequency" non-ionising stuff below visible light...)

    Who here turned off their phone just to be on the safe side? :p

    Last edited 17/02/16 5:01 pm

    I don't see what all the outrage is. I watched the show and all it boils down to is to basically use handset and speaker mode and to limit use on children. I don't see a problem with that. Overuse in children and adults will probably cause eyestrain anyway. All these renowned scientists squabbling over it is silly.

    We KNOW that cigarettes are directly related to cancer, but the industry still thrives. Alcohol is also established to make people drunk and do dangerous things too. Yet where are the law changes really? In Australia, plain packaging for cigs etc. Is that really anywhere near effective as a prevention strategy? If Cell phones and WIFI were 100% correlated with cancer and other ill health effects, what would change? Maybe a few more warnings in cell phone manuals so that the companies won't get sued, a few more handsets are sold and schools still using cables. It's not that bad is it?

    Truthfully, the wireless network has occupied a short time in history and we don't know what the worst of it will be. Maybe there is no direct effect on humans, but there have been studies showing how bees die/ become disoriented and do not return to their hives. If there's no plant pollination, our food chain, and us will eventually collapse. Less WIFI/mobile radiation is better, I say. There's no issue whether it is scaremongering or not either way (for humans) if we don't have bees.

    I think these advised safety precautions are fair. The show did not talk about where concerns come from. There are anecdotal stories from hundreds of people that feel ill, have headaches or nosebleeds around wireless radiation. Key word anecdotal. And yet every human is made differently. We all have different body shapes, skeletons, muscles, wiring, ways of thinking, blood types, DNA. Why tar these people as insane? All medications have side effects, so why not wireless radiation in a select part of the population?

      So broadcast an episode about eye strain or health concerns for children (if any such evidence exists). There's no need to promote woo as actual science.

      If you want to take precautions against things that have no demonstrable adverse effects just because *maybe* they're harmful, I'd advise you to stop eating, drinking, wearing clothes, breathing air, or using whatever device you're using to type comments like this.

      "All medications have side effects, so why not wireless radiation in a select part of the population?"

      Because evidence based science, is why.

    I honestly don't mind if people believe this rubbish. It makes it so much easier to know who's opinion I should quickly dismiss.

      Regardless of the shoddy ABC report it is listed as a "possible" carcinogenic by WHO (along with what seems to be just about anything man made). I don't think it's wise to just rule it out as the technology is still rather new and it can take decades for effects to be shown. Keep an open mind!

    it doesn't hurt to make the sign to ward off the evil eye or to cross myself - i don't believe in all that hokum but you don't know.

    no no no. you do know. stop falling for it or i have a special hat and em proof pouch for your phone to sell you (" of course you can still nake calls, it doesn't affect good radio waves")

    Not putting a phone next to your head for 30 minutes a day for 10 years isn't that hard. (Heavy use). Thought the bit about the dying sperm interesting when I watched the show skeptically. At the very least the information presented might help a guy trying to have kids.

    " it is impossible for science to demonstrate that anything is absolutely safe, ... regardless of whether we’re talking about"

    So refreshing to see an actual scientist who understands the philosophy of science quoted for a change instead of those who view their credentials as some sort of title.

    Everyone relax, wifi transmits so little power that's it's impossible for it to cause any harm. Even making calls with your phone up to your ear isn't going to do much harm considering there's around 1000x more transmitting power involved.

    Be funny if these research disparaging comments were all made by Rodney Croft.

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