Childhood cancer and proximity to mobile phone masts

You can find my "rapid response" to the original BMJ article below

or at: -

Andrew Goldsworthy

Informant: Martin Weatherall

Andrew Goldsworty, Lecturer in Biology - retired
Home London W5 1JD

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Re: Doesn't prove anything I'm afraid

The choice of 700 metres as the radius of the sample may be misleading. If, as many people believe, the bulk of the biological effects occur within 400 metres of the mast, increasing the radius of the sample to 700 metres will dilute it with people who are relatively unaffected.

Insofar as the area of the circle around the mast (and presumably the number of people living in it) increases with the square of the radius, this means that the sample around the mast will contain approximately twice as many “unexposed” as “exposed” people. If the cancer cases are more tightly bunched around the mast, this error becomes even greater.

Also, if the people concerned were regular mobile phone users, the exposure to the signal from their own phone would be greater with increasing distance, which would confound the experiment and make any result appear less significant.

Also, it takes no account of other sources of radiation, which would also make it more difficult to disentangle the effects of the mast.

Lastly, in this day and age, where do you find unexposed controls? Picking people at random from a register certainly won’t do it.

While the intentions of the study might have been to reassure the general public that living close to mobile phone masts will not harm them, it was not well designed and the results are virtually meaningless. I'm afraid no one can take comfort from it.

Competing interests: None declared

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