Mobile phone headache: a double blind, sham-controlled provocation study



New Study by Oftedahl on Mobile Phones

Comment on Oftedahl et al.

The recently published study by Oftedahl et al. (Cephalalgia, 2007, 27, 447-455) addressing headaches, head pain and physiologic parameters is important but not for the reasons put forth by the authors. The study indeed gave no evidence that RF fields in the experimental set-up used cause head pain or discomfort or influenced physiological parameters. And that finding is exactly what one would expect given the study design.

The authors were correct in identifying that all electromagnetic fields are not the same in terms of exposure and biological mechanism of harm. Correctly, they separated the effect of ELF – with biological damage done through the direct influence of the predominant magnetic field in that EMR window – and the effect of raw, modulated RF where health impacts are mediated through heating of biological tissue. What was not considered in the study was the mechanistic effect of the Information Carrying Radio Waves (ICRW) that we know to be the predominant danger in mobile phone, WiFi and phone mast exposures. Tissue heating is not the mechanism for these exposures so the study design in that regard was incorrect with respect to identifying mobile phone use as the parameter under study. However, because the investigators left out the most important purveyor of the health effects – ICRW – they provided a strong validation for the ICRW biological mechanism: The study was carefully designed as a double-blind, sham controlled experiment to lessen the potential for bias in the assessing subjective symptoms. The open provocation step used to identify subjects with symptoms similar to those the subject reported on the pre-study questionnaire indeed suggests a nocebo or negative placebo effect among the participants at the outset, but the double-blind design served to eliminate that effect in the conduct of the study itself.

Subjects were recruited through newspaper ads and 42 people filled out questionnaires related to their mobile phone use and symptoms. It is noteworthy that the symptoms reported by the subjects in the questionnaires – and carefully validated through follow-up phone interviews with nurses – were indeed associated with ICRW because the symptoms occurred when the subjects were actually talking on the mobile phone. Only when there is talking or data transmission are the ICRWs present. This important exposure system finding was determined in work I oversaw in the $28.5 million WTR program funded by the mobile phone industry in the 1990s. Thus, the double-blind study conducted with the 17 subjects who agreed to go forward provided a comparison of symptoms present when ICRW exposures occur and symptoms present when only raw, modulated RF signals are the exposure – as in the exposure system employed by Oftedahl and her colleagues.

The findings are remarkable because with the raw, modulated RF, there is no distinction identifiable between symptoms occurring when there was a perceived exposure to RF and where there was actual exposure to RF. This is what would be expected because without ICRW, there is no information signal to provoke the cell membrane response that we now know is involved in the cascade of biological effects leading to the symptoms we are now cataloguing in the Safe Wireless Initiative health effects registry and reported in numerous published studies. Thus, the study shows that without ICRW, there are no adverse effects -- a validation of the ICRW mechanism of harm.

Dr. George L. Carlo
Science and Public Policy Institute
1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW -- 7th Floor Washington, D.C. 20004 http://www.sppionline.org


Norwegian Study fails to find a link between Mobile Phones and Headaches

We have now published a response to the Norwegian Mobile Phone Headache paper:



From Mast Sanity/Mast Network


Residents fear cancer cluster in Sayreville


State expands health study in Sayreville

Sayreville officials always game for a hearty debate



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Juni 2007

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