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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.

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