There was one exception among major media outlets: The New York Times. It had two reporters, William Broad and Roni Caryn Rabin, on the call. As it happened, Broad, a long-time member of the science desk, was already working on the story. He was making background calls a week earlier; he even called me a couple of times. When I wrote Broad asking if he had had the benefit of a “hot tip,” he did not reply.

There’s a long history of New York Times science reporters —Broad included— downplaying, if not outright dismissing, news of electromagnetic health effects. Anyone wanting to conceal the fact that NTP had found “clear evidence” that cell phone radiation could lead to cancer would likely leak the story to the Times.

And the Times delivered.

Here’s the headline from its Web site.

NYTimes Headline

You almost don’t have to read the story to dismiss the NTP’s ten-year, $30 million project as a waste of time and money. The gratuitous modifier “at least in male rats” could make you wonder why the NTP exists at all.

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Lost to the reader is the fact that animal studies are widely used by drug and chemical companies to determine toxicity. All agents that cause cancer in humans also do so in animals. And chemicals frequently affect one sex more than another; gender differences in cancer rates also exist in humans.

And then there is the obvious error in the headline: NTP found more than “some evidence” —it saw “clear evidence.” Broad acknowledges this in his story, if only indirectly in the penultimate graph. No one on the science desk knew or cared enough to correct the distortion.

The subhead of Broad’s story, “Many caveats apply, and the results involve radio frequencies long out of routine use,” offers additional —unjustifiable— reasons to discount the NTP finding.

Outdated Results? 2G vs. Higher G’s

The results are outdated, the Times and others say, because NTP tested old tech —2G (GSM and CDMA)— that is no longer in widespread use.

Results of animal experiments with 3G (UMTS) offer no reassurance, however. Just the opposite.

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Two different German labs have exposed mice to 3G. Cancer promotion was found in each case. The lead author of the second study, Alex Lerchl, concluded that 3G signals “obviously enhance the growth of tumors.” Read our report from 2015 here.

The fact is that we don’t know whether the higher G’s are any safer than 2G. Believing so is simply wishful thinking.

Don’t Expect a Linear Dose-Response

Another reason to discount the cancer findings, according to the Times, CBS News and others, is that the rats’ exposures were much higher than those people normally encounter. To be fair, the NTP promoted this perspective by titling its news release: “High Exposure to Radio Frequency Radiation Associated With Cancer in Male Rats.”

What’s missing is that, in several instances, NTP saw a stronger effect at a low dose than at a high dose. This is called a nonlinear dose-response. Statistics for brain tumors (glioma) in male rats exposed to GSM radiation make the case:

NTP GSM Glioma

Lerchl in Germany found a similar nonlinearity. The histogram, below, of lymphoma response versus radiation dose from his paper shows that he saw a greater response at the low dose than at a dose that was fifty times higher.

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Lerchl Non Linear Response

ENU is a cancer agent; this was an initiation/promotion study.

The lesson here, as the peer review panel tried to teach the NTP, is that RF radiation does not necessarily follow a dose-response relationship, as most toxic chemicals do. At this point, one can only guess where the threshold for RF effects may be. It could be lower than now commonly believed, possibly much lower.