→ Louis Slesin, founder and editor of Microwave News: There are more complicated interactions than the pure thermal ones

Alexia Barakou

“One thing I have noticed is that reporters have been unable to get their stories published, or only published after making substantial changes,” Mr Slesin says.

A reflection perhaps of the extraordinary political and commercial charge surrounding the roll-out of equipment that generates electromagnetic fields, such as mobile phones and power lines.

His solution to barriers to publication? Publish it yourself!

“The great thing about owning a printing press is that I can write what I think is important and publish it. And people read Microwave News. Perhaps not the public at large, but the insiders do. We broke the story about the results of the NTP study*, and this forced the [USA] government to release it.”

Mr Slesin is “translating” cutting edge scientific research and innovation, all the more necessary in a world where multi-billion dollar commercial interests can be harmed by awkward studies pointing up public health dangers in everyday items. Such as whether electromagnetic fields have an effect on the heath of cells beyond the localised thermal — or heating — effect.

“I often see children chewing on phones as teething rings. That’s crazy. Parents allow this to happen because they are not told about the risks. We don’t allow for uncertainty. This is very strange since this is what risk research is all about.”

Mr Slesin touches on this issue in his interview with Investigate Europe. But we began by inviting him to step into the minefield of electromagnetic radiation. Does he believe there are biological effects of radiofrequency radiation?

Louis Slesin: “I think something is going on. I think there are more complicated interactions than the pure thermal ones. It is almost inconceivable that there wouldn’t be. There are too many studies showing effects. But I do not know exactly what is going on.

“In America, we are obsessed with cancer. The argument that radiofrequency radiation does not cause cancer because it doesn’t have the quantum energy to break DNA is simplistic and foolish. For instance, the radiation may instead be able to inhibit DNA repair. These are two sides of the same coin: whether it breaks DNA, or it inhibits its repair, the net result is the same.”

A holy grail in this field is to prove, or disprove, detrimental effects on human health. Despite the billions of dollars spent on cancer research, it’s remarkably under-explored.

Louis Slesin: “The first to show an increase in DNA breaks by radiofrequency radiation were Henry Lai and N.P. Singh, at the University of Washington, Seattle, in the 1990s. Their study showed that microwaves could cause DNA breaks in the brains of rats. It was very controversial. And, unfortunately, it still is.”

Industry has historically been funding research, and that is a problem, according to Slesin. “Industry-funded studies, like COSMOS, are bread and butter for researchers and it can go on for 15 to 20 years. Does this constitute a conflict of interest for the scientists involved? Of course it does.”

It is important to look at what goes on in the background, he says. “There is a lot of politics in deciding what goes into a study and what is left out. For instance, excluding  60/60+ year olds from a recent Australian brain tumor study does not make any sense.”

Two big studies, by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the Italian Ramazzini Institute, in 2018 concluded that there is a causal link between cancer and being exposed to mobile radiation in rats. The American study could hardly have been more official, and is the biggest of its kind ever.  NTP is a branch of the US Department of Health. The scientists had worked on it for over ten years, and it had cost more than 25 million USD. Nevertheless, the head of the US Food and Drugs Administration, which had commissioned the study, quickly disputed the conclusions. The scientists had exposed the research animals to “extremely high levels of high-frequency radiation”, so the results could not be applied on the mobile use of humans.

“We must try to look at the big picture”, argues Slesin. “What we learn from the NTP and Ramazzini studies, is that both found an obscure tumour in the same type of cell (Schwann cells).

A similar experiment was done twice, 3,000 miles apart and the same type of tumour was found in each case. What are the odds of that? We can’t yet say we now know that mobile phone radiation causes cancer, but today it’s more likely than not that the radiation is promoting cancer.”

Investigate Europe: “And what effect has the NTP study had on the discussion in the United States?”

Louis Slesin: “Essentially none”.

Tobacco comparison: not helpful…it’s like comparing ‘like’ with ‘not like’.

Louis Slesin: “I don’t like to make the comparison to tobacco, because there, the harmful effects are clear. With electromagnetic fields (EMFs), that is not the case. It’s clear there are effects, but we don’t know how big a problem radiofrequency radiation really is. We’re still guessing on how big or small the problem is. With tobacco we all know that it is a big problem.

“[However] we did learn from tobacco to be careful not to give too much access and influence to the industry. That’s the lesson we need to learn and follow. On passive smoking, in the year 2000, the WHO published a major meaculpa report on how it allowed the tobacco industry to influence its thinking. But then they repeated that mistake with EMFs. They’ve never given me an answer to why they are repeating the same mistake.”

* i.e. any type of electromagnetic radiation that does not carry enough energy per quantum to ionize atoms or molecules. By contrast, ionizing radiation has a higher frequency and shorter wavelength than non-ionizing radiation, and can be a serious health hazard. Exposure to it can cause burns, radiation sickness, cancer, and genetic damage.