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Thursday, May 27, 2010

What went wrong with the interphone study

The interphone study that was published this week and made a lot of headlines. After the dust of the battle slowly disappear the facts and problems of the study are shown clearly at the light of day.

Problems in the study:

  1. "A regular user" is defined as a person how used the cellphone as much as for 30 minutes a month for half a year. The problem is that this is a very low use time, average in the world today is about 2 hours a month, every month!
  2. The heaviest users in the study used their cellphone for more than 1640 hours in 10 years, meaning about 27 minutes each day. The problem is that today heavy users talk much more than that, actually most of the people I know talk more than that.
  3. Users reported their use pattern using a form. In some cases their use pattern was reported by other persons. The problem is that this method is not consistence and not 100% accurate as people who don't use the phone a lot tend to report more use, and people that uses the phone a lot tend to report lower use.
  4. Exposure to other types of electromagnetic radiation was not considered. The problem is that those how reported no use at all, may have been exposed to electromagnetic radiation which could have cause them cancer. This would cause the ratio between healthy people and sick people in the control group (who did not use the cellphone) to be higher than in reality (more sick people in the control group than in the real world). This will lead to OR <1>
  5. People who died or were too sick before the study was finished were deducted from the study even if their data was already acquired. The problem is that this operation will reduce the number of people with cancer in all the users groups.

My conclusion is that this study has 2 final true results:

  1. People how speak more than 27 minutes a day have a higher chance of developing brain cancer.
  2. All this study outcomes are lower than in reality because of all the problems in it.

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