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WHO expert found to be mobile phone lobbyist

The Chairman of WHO:s expert group for assessing the cancer hazards of mobile phones, professor Anders Ahlbom, is the founder of a lobby firm for supporting mobile phone industry interests. His brother Gunnar runs the firm. This was recently discovered by investigative journalist Mona Nilsson. Ahlbom is renowned for his active support of mobile phones in various contexts since over a decade, but not until now has his partiality been revealed.

Ahlbom chairs the expert group on epidemiolgy at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organisation (WHO). He did not disclose this conflict of interest when he was appointed as chairman. He was dismissed from the expert group, right before he was to lead the international conference of IARC on the hazards of electromagnetic radiation.

Mona Nilsson writes in her Press Release about Ahlbom, that was issued one week before said conference (our highlightings)

– The industry-loyal scientists are easy to recognize. They systematically repeat a set of policy messages that counter the results of independent scientists and coincide with the interests of the industry. This is crystal clear in the case of Professor Ahlbom, who has dismissed all studies indicating health risks or biological effects whenever he has chaired an expert panel on this subject. He even denies the results of his own research if it indicates a health risk. * There is no doubt he speaks to the benefit of the industry.

Source: Conflict of interest at the WHO Press release May 23rd 2011 by Mona Nilsson.

Comment

We have been appalled by the flat denial of the European Union and WHO of any risks of mobile phone radiation, referring to their experts. This denial comes into a new light now that it was revealed that one of the most influential scientists in the whole world is heavily biassed in favor of cellphones. As a chairman of the most important and authoritative expert group in the world on this issue, he has had ideal preconditions for suppressing and distorting the truth about the dangers of cellphone radiation.

This is a blatant case of bias, further confirming our opinion that the denial of cellphone hazards by WHO, EU, the US and others has only been possible because their scientific advisors are biassed or corrupt. This is because the evidence proving that mobile phone radiation is harmful is so strong that any competent and impartial scientists will inevitably conclude that it is hazardous. For more, see our website section “Corrupt Science“.

More

The famous Interphone Cellphone Study is greatly flawed

A group of 50 experts has shown that the the Interphone study covering 13 countries is deeply flawed.

After thorough analysis they concluded that it has several serious methodological flaws, all of which distort the result in the same direction, so that the risk of cancer seems considerably smaller than it really is.

This is highly suspect. If the errors were caused accidentally, or due to ignorance (which is highly unlikely because many highly competent researchers were involved), at least some of the errors would have had the opposite effect. A fairly good measure of skill and creativity is required to be able to distort an epidemiological study in a way that all the flaws cause a dimininuition of the apparent risk. Here is a list of the most important flaws.

Deficiencies in Interphone study

  • Insufficiently exposed subjects were included. It is very well known that brain tumors appear after at least 10-15 years of exposure to radiation. A significant majority of the subjects had been exposed for less than 10 years (the result is a great underestimation of risk).
  • Exclusion of exposed people. Users of the cordless phones were considered “unexposed” to microwaves, although the exposure to this radiation is the same as from mobile phones (this gives the false impression that brain tumors occur more frequently than they actually do among unexposed persons, which is an imporant source of error, because the use of cordless phones is very widespread).
  • Exclusion of children and young adults. This is a serious deficiency, because young people are particularly prone to develop brain tumors (again, this leads to an underestimation of risk).
  • Exclusion of many types of brain tumors  causes an underestimation of risk.
  • Exclusion of people who had died of brain tumors, or were too ill to be interviewed. This causes an underestimation of the risk.
  • A too large proportion of invited people refused to participate (41%). The general opinion among scientists is that when such a large proportion has refused to participate in a study, it precludes the possibility to make reliable conclusions. Scientific journals do not usually accept reports from trials with such a large proportion of refusals because it is considered to have no scientific value.

This is fraudulent science

These flaws are so numerous, serious and elementary that it seems extremely unlikely that they have occurred by accident. In plain language, this is most likely the case of fraudulent research.

These flaws are of the same nature as those found in other industry-sponsored studies, see Research misconduct behind industry-sponsored studies?
It seems likely that many of the participant reachers have been openly or covertly industry-sponsored, because no competent or serious research institutions would want to participate in so flawed research out of concern for its reputation (a researcher or an institution’s reputation is important for its credibility and ability to receive research grants – if they do participate, there is the danger that they become completely dependent on the industry for funding, because independent funds do not support researchers and research institutes that produce obviously flawed studies).

The study is meaningless – confirms what is known since long time

The study is basically meaningless. If it would have lacked said methodological shortcomings, it would, at most, have proved what one already knows, namely that it takes more than 10 years to develop visible brain tumors.

The suspicion arises that the industry wanted to make a big media story of a this useless material in the same way as many times before when it sponsored studies on people with too short exposition to develop brain tumors. Every time that such a study was published, the industry made a global media drive using it for “informing” people that cell phone radiation is harmless.

Source 1: Hardell group’s re-analysis of the Interphone methods

Evidence falsification behind many cellphone studies?

A study by the independent Power Watch discovered the remarkable differences between independent and industry-funded research for the benefit of industry interests. The most absurd result was an industry-funded study on brain tumors that reported 186% protective effect of mobile phone radiation. It seems that the researchers in their quest to please their sponsors went too far in falsifying evidence. See the picture below, where the study that found a protective effect is the red triangle at the arrow to the left of the chart below (red squares or triangles in the diagram mark the industry sponsored results and dark gray diamonds denote independent results).

The graph also shows that all independent studies found increased risk of brain tumors (although it was not always statististically significant). The farther to the right, the greater the risk and the higher up the more significant. Among industry-sponsored studies a large majority, reported no increased risk (= position to the left of midline), and in when increased risk reported it was not statististically significant or weakly significant ( pink or yellow-green zone).

Chart made by Power Watch and Lloyd Morgan.

Click here or on image to enlarge.

The article demonstrates serious weaknesses in industry-funded research of such a magnitude and character that it seems unlikely that scientists were so incompetent. It is probable that they were “encouraged” to manipulate the date or make a flawed design that misrepresents tumor incidence. See here for an example: “Deficiencies in the interphone study “.

Source: Power Watch: Bias and confounding. (There are several signs that the industry is abusing Web of Trust (WOT) to block unwanted websites including Power Watch so do ignore the warning sign.)

Researchers were sacked after refusing to blindly sign a research report

An increasingly common procedure is that the industry buys the name of a reputable scientist and write this article on your own without consulting the investigator. A scientist refused to sign because he was not allowed to see the research data behind the research report that he was supposed “author” (as promised by his employer). The dismissal came after pressure on his university from the industry  (universities have become increasingly economically dependent on industrial sponsorship).

Creating the false impression that the matter is controversial

This research misconduct has been designed to create the false impression that the matter is controversial among scientists. The disagreement exists only between independent scientists and pseudosciensts corrupted by the industry.

For virtually every study that demonstrated tumor risk, the industry has generated a study that denies the possibility with the obvious purpose to confuse the consumers.

This strategy was used by the tobacco companies who managed to delay the realization that smoking causes cancer for decades in this way (see ” Tobacco indstry manipulation of research “See footnote and “Doubt is Their Product “). We want to mention this, because today no one doubts the dangers of smoking, while many consumers, for said reasons, are confused about mobile phones risks.

Fortunately, the wind beginning to turn with the WHO finally starting to tell the truth in tumor risk issue, even if it is still more conservative than justified in this regard.

Corrupt experts create confusion and suppress the truth

Another factor that probably contributed to the distortion of the understanding is corrupt experts. Professor Anders Ahlbom, who was one of the world’s most influential experts regarding tumor risks from mobile telephone radiation managed to hide that he was mobile lobbyist for a long time. One wonders how many more consultative top experts  have hidden links with industry. It is very unlikely that Ahlbom is the only one at WHO, because he would have been unable to carry through the consistent denial of mobile phone hazards, disregarding strong and extensive evidence indicating harmfulness, without the support of a significant number of other WHO experts.

The industry has very strong financial reasons to secure support from leading experts in order to deny or downplay the risks and they have huge financial resources. A positive statement by an expert can be worth many millions. Also for this reason, it would be very naive to believe that Ahlbom is an exception, rather he is probably the tip of an iceberg of bribery.

If you look at independent data and take into account all the facts, not just epidemiological studies, it has long been clear beyond any doubt that cell phone radiation causes ab increased tumor risk, although it is quite small in absolute terms.

Although the increased risk of brain tumor is small at moderate mobile use, it grows the more you use your mobile, so you have to be restrictive in making phones, see “Security “. In addition, mobile phone radiation has important other negative effects on health.


Footnote

Big business strategy to hide the truth

This strategy, which was successfully used by tobacco companies to deny the risk of cancer, has become the standard for corporate manipulation of truth.

  1. Sponsor research that supports the company’s interests
  2. Publishing research that supports the company’s interests.
  3. Suppress research that does not support the company’s interests.
  4. Criticize research that does not support the company’s interests ..
  5. Disseminate information about the company [doctored] interpretation of the risks to the laity.
  6. Disseminate information about the company [doctored] interpretation of the risks to policy makers.

This approach has unfortunately been successfully applied by the mobile phone industry and in addition critical scholars have been persecuted.

Source: TOBACCO INDUSTRY MANIPULATION OF RESEARCH

Copyright PSRAST 2011 You may quote or copy the article if you provide link to the source.