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NEWSLETTER: From the World of Sports, A Potential Warning for Cell Phone Users

Jun 17, 2011


Those who are skeptical of the dangers posed by cell phone radiation consistently assume that little physical harm can result from their use. The skeptics would do well to heed a very real—and very disturbing—phenomenon from the world of sports. In a recent paper in the journal Medical Hypotheses, researcher Sam Milham wondered whether there could be any common cause behind the fact that some professional athletes had succumbed to Lou Gehrig’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

He reasoned that there could be a direct connection between the use of gently warming microwaves used in diathermy treatment, and of transcutaneous neural stimulation and other electrical devices commonly used to treat pain in sports, and the onset of ALS.

Milham found it noteworthy, for example, that three out of 55 members of the 1964 San Francisco 49ers football team died of ALS at much younger ages than most cases. This may just be a statistical fluke, but there are other cases to ponder. For example, former University of Washington basketball player Melissa Jo Erickson was diagnosed with ALS at age 26; she told Milham that she had extensively used transcutaneous neural stimulation to manage pain and injuries throughout her decade-long career. And it turns out that the great Lou Gehrig himself was repeatedly treated by the New York Yankees’ team chiropractor to high levels of diathermy. “Interesting coincidences or meaningful connections?” asks Devra Davis, PhD, MPH, founder of Environmental Health Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating individuals, health professionals and communities about controllable environmental health risks and policy changes needed to reduce those risks. “Many automatically assume the former case, but I think it is better to investigate the evidence.”

As she writes in her book Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family (Dutton, 2010), a parallel can be drawn to the issue of cell phone radiation. I n the latter case, a ubiquitous form of radiation has resulted in brain cancers and other serious ailments in a number of individuals—cases that are explored in detail throughout the book.

It is our duty, she implores, to investigate the links between the radiation and the illnesses as far as science will allow.

As seen in the June 9, 2011 issue of our Newsletter.

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