New Epidemiology Review Pummels Key Witness In Brain-Cancer Lawsuit
RCR Wireless News
Journalist: Jeffrey Silva
September 23, 2002
A review of epidemiology studies by two U.S. scientists found no clear
association between mobile phones and cancer, while reserving some of its
harshest criticism for the lead scientific witness in a cancer lawsuit
against the wireless industry and dismissing the possibility of non-thermal
bioeffects from handset radiation.
John Boice and Joseph McLaughlin, two former government scientists who head
the International Epidemiology Institute USA, were hired by the Swedish
Radiation Protection Authority to conduct the survey. IEI, a biomedical
research firm in Rockville, Md., previously contributed to a Danish
epidemiology study published last year. That study did not detect a link
between cell-phone use and cancer risk. But it has been criticized for
failing to account for slow-growing tumors and excluding corporate
subscribers, who can be heavy wireless users.
The Swedish Radiation Protection Authority, also known as SSI, last week
released the epidemiology review by Boice and McLaughlin. The reviewers
analyzed more than a dozen epidemiology studies published in recent years.
SSI said the conclusions of Boice and McLaughlin do not necessarily
represent its own views.
The Boice-McLaughlin review, among other things, takes aim at two
combustible issues: the research of Dr. Lennart Hardell and claims in some
research of non-thermal bioeffects. Both issues have occupied the wireless
industry and their lawyers in recent months.Indeed, the research of Hardell-the
pivotal witness for Christopher Newman in his $800 million brain-cancer
lawsuit against industry-is singled out for criticism in a press release
accompanying Boice and McLaughlin's epidemiology survey. In the review
itself, Boice and McLaughlin said Hardell's methodology was "limited and
inferior in design" compared with other epidemiology studies. They also
called misleading his statistical analysis of brain-cancer risks based on
brain tumors on the side of the head used by subscribers to make calls.
Defense attorneys representing mobile firms in the Newman case have made
similar arguments, most recently in a Sept. 10 letter to the Baltimore
federal judge overseeing the Newman case.
In contrast, Boice and McLaughlin generally gave high marks to other
epidemiology studies that appear to rule out a relationship between
cell-phone use and cancer.
Boice and industry defense lawyers did not reply to requests for comment on
whether they are assisting with mobile-phone health litigation.Norman
Sandler, a spokesman for Motorola Inc.,
said he is not aware of any association between Boice and defense lawyers.
Sandler said the release of the Boice-McLaughlin review last week surprised
Motorola.In releasing the epidemiology review so close to a ruling by U.S.
District Judge Catherine Blake on whether to let the Newman case go to
trial, Boice and McLaughlin have opened themselves up to criticism.