The Rubber Duckies: Scaring cell users

(June 17, 2011) The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) wins an Honourable Mention in this year’s Rubber Duckies Award. 

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a working group of the World Health Organization, wins an Honourable Mention in this year’s Rubber Ducky Award for coming close — but not quite succeeding — in giving a full-throated scare to holders of the world’s five billion wireless phone subscriptions.

There is “an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use,” IARC announced in a press release, which then clarifies in a footnote 2: “chance, bias or confounding could not be ruled out with reasonable confidence.”

And in footnote 3, dealing with other cancers: “The available studies are of insufficient quality, consistency or statistical power to permit a conclusion regarding the presence or absence of a causal association between exposure and cancer, or no data on cancer in humans are available.”

Memo to IARC: To win a Rubber Ducky, drop the footnotes.

Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and author of The Deniers.LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com.

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