Ronald Herberman is the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. Despite the fact that no published study indicates a clear link between cell phone use and cancer, Herberman has warned his staff at the cancer institute a memo warning them of possible risks from cell phones, based on unpublished data.

Isn’t that interesting.

From the BBC:

He said children should use mobiles in emergencies only and adults should try to keep the phone away from the head.

Dr Herberman said his warning was based on early findings from unpublished data.

“We shouldn’t wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later,” he says.

“I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cell phone use,” the memo says.

Dr Herberman’s warning to 3,000 staff says children should be protected as their brains are still developing.

He lists tips including switching sides regularly while talking on mobiles.


  1. #1 laurisa
    July 24, 2008

    …He lists tips including switching sides regularly while talking on mobiles…

    Right?, because you want to fry your egg evenly on both sides! And as an adult, REALLY keep that phone away from your head. Bad juju right there.

    I bet Ronald eats food prepared in a microwave oven. And I drink my dinner. So which will get me? Mind over matter?

  2. #2 Stephanie Z
    July 24, 2008

    L, having seen one of your dinners, I can make a guess. Which reminds me, if you sit still long enough next time you’re back in town, we’ll get you to actually eat one.

  3. #3 Mike O'Risal
    July 24, 2008

    Bleah. He’s a reputable researcher. How the heck did he come to this nonsensical woo-panic, and how bad is the press when it runs this sort of speculative (and discredited) nonsense as front-page news?

  4. #4 JanieBelle
    July 24, 2008

    Y’know, I’m all for deferring to an expert, but I usually like the expert to have some evidence (s)he can point to. What’s up with this “unpublished data” nonsense?

  5. #5 laurisa
    July 24, 2008

    Mz. Diamondz: got me there! They were in fact perfect margaritaz! Next time in, I may be celebrating a new job, or rather losing this job…so i’ll most definitely need dinner and a cell phone. Or…wait…? 😉

  6. #6 sailor
    July 24, 2008

    Well, he is not saying there is any evidence, he is saying we do not know. Do we really know what will happen in 50 or 60 years to kids who start to use cell phones in their youth and continue using them for maybe hours each day though their lives? Maybe nothing. I have not yet been hurt by all that time I put into watching my toes under flouroscopes in shoe shops, but no one in their right mind would allow it now. Think of a head set as a very cheap insurance against a very long term improbable event. But that is often why we take insurance.

  7. #7 Mike O'Risal
    July 24, 2008


    That’s a much more sensible approach, at least, than the kind of near-panic that seems to be growing. Although, I wonder… if cell phones cause cancer when held next to the head, wouldn’t they simply cause cancer elsewhere on the body if kept in some other location?

  8. #8 Blaidd Drwg
    July 24, 2008

    wouldn’t they simply cause cancer elsewhere on the body if kept in some other location?

    Oh NOEZ!!! Hip cancer!!!!!11!!!

  9. #9 Donn Young
    July 24, 2008

    Dr. Herberman advice sounds like it came from my mother – well-intentioned, but far from scientific. Regardless, my 13-yr old daughter and her friends have found out how to reduce any suspected risk – they’ve switched from talking to each other to texting. Given the inverse square law, any possible exposure is greatly reduced by holding the phone out in front of you – especially since her new phone had to have a full qwerty keyboard. Dad is now hard pressed to keep up trying to type on an old phone’s keypad.

  10. #10 Jesmi
    July 29, 2008

    This informations are great,Mobile radiation could cause cancer.

  11. #11 Orac
    July 29, 2008

    Isn’t that interesting.

    Not really, except as an exercise in wondering why the premature fearmongering:

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    July 29, 2008

    Not really, except as an exercise in wondering why the premature fearmongering:


    I have not read your post yet, but I will. Part of why I find this interesting is because is it potentially premature fear mongering (unless he’s right, of course). I also found it interesting for other reasons: As the head of a major research institution, he disseminated information to his people. That is distinctly different than, say, a press release saying “OK, this may be premature, but look for a change in policy in two-three years”.

    Obviously, this information was disseminated but I found the specifics of this case interesting in this way.

    Donn: Oh, sure texting is OK for now, but what happens when they get Repetitive Finger Syndrome or something.

  13. #13 Stanley
    February 22, 2009

    Check out Dr. Ronald B. Herberman’s Congressional Testimony on 09/25/2008.

    See a summary of his finding below:

    Wireless Radiation and Brain Tumor Risks

    You can see his full speech here:

    Tumors and Cell Phone use: What the Science Says