The National Toxicology Program (NTP) – an interagency program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), which is part of the National Institutes of Health – recently released a report entitled, “Report of Partial Findings From the National Toxicology Program Carcinogenesis Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation in Hsd: Sprague Dawley SD Rats (Whole Body Exposure).” The report is available at http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2016/05/26/055699. The exposure systems used in this study, which was led by Michael Wyde of the NTP, were designed, manufactured, and installed by the IT'IS Foundation.
NTP Associate Director John Bucher provided the update on the study results and answered questions. The decision was made to release the preliminary results of the cell phone radiation study before peer-reviewed publication because of concern over elevated rates of two types of cancer in the exposed rats. Studies in mice are ongoing.
The NTP report has, not surprisingly, garnered international attention and controversy. The American Cancer Society (ACS) hailed the NTP report as “good science.” Consumer Reports called the study “groundbreaking” and listed simple common-sense behaviors that can help reduce exposure. The reactions in more mainstream media outlets have been more skeptical, for example, the Washington Post story with the headline, “Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer? Don’t Believe the Hype.”
At BioEM2016, June 5 – 10 in Ghent BE, a presentation on the NTP study was added the last moment to open the 8AM Wednesday June 8 plenary session. The presentation, with the provocative title, “Hot Topic Plenary: The US NTP Study: A Real Game Changer or Just Another Study?”, was delivered by Michael Wyde of the NTP and Myles Capstick of IT’IS, who briefly described the exposure set up used in the study.
It will not be possible to replicate the NTP study precisely with the same exposure equipment, which was too costly to maintain after the exposure studies were finished and has already been largely dismantled and discarded. Further, during the period of the NTP study, rapid technological developments have rendered the design of the chambers obsolete, especially since they were intended for 2G mobile device exposures, given the migration to 3G, 4G, and soon 5G systems.
In any case, the findings of the NTP study should be revisited with a view to next generation wireless networks, and IT'IS exposure systems are sure to continue to play a pivotal role in future studies.