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Carry Your Cell Phone Wherever You Want

Posted 12/17/2013

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Today's entry is intended to be almost comic relief. Several women have alerted me to this recent pronouncement by Dr. Oz, sometimes called "America's Doctor," that carrying your cell phone in your bra can cause breast cancer. This seems worse than the persistent email rumors about antiperspirant causing breast cancer because the source is someone who is often respected and quoted. We are all looking for answers, and even one that seems (to me anyway) clearly whacko can feel attractive because it tells us "why."

Here is a reminder of the truth: Except for those women who carry a gene mutation (BRCA1 or BRCA2), no one knows what causes breast cancer or most other kinds of cancer. We do know about the dangers of tobacco and asbestos and a few cancers being caused by viruses (such as HPV), but we have no idea why most cancers begin. Very honestly, it is not easy for a body to make cancer, to allow those cells to grow. We are created with a lot of complicated biological systems that are supposed to quell problems, dangers and invaders to our physical selves, and a lot has to go wrong for cancer to develop.

This is an entertaining blog from Science Based Medicine about this recent story. You might want to bookmark the site for future good reading. Here is the start and a link:

No, carrying your cell phone in your bra will not cause breast cancer, no matter what Dr. Oz says.

I don’t think very highly of Dr. Oz.

Yes, yes, I realize that saying that is akin to saying that water is wet, the sun rises in the east, and that it gets damned cold here in the upper Midwest in December, but there you go. This year, I’ve been mostly avoiding the now un-esteemed Dr. Mehmet Oz, a.k.a. “America’s doctor,” even though his show could, if I paid much attention to it anymore, provide me with copious blogging material, because I’ve come to the conclusion that he is beyond redemption. He’s gone over to the Dark Side and is profiting handsomely from it. There’s little I can do about it except for, from time to time, writing about some of Dr. Oz’s more egregious offenses against medical science and reason, putting our tens of thousands of readers per day against his millions of viewers per day. It’s an asymmetric battle that we don’t have much of a shot at winning. However, at least from time to time I can correct misinformation that Oz promotes, particularly when it impacts my speciality. Consider it doing something pre-emptively to help myself. When one of my patients ask about something that’s been on Oz’s show, I can simply point her to specific blog posts, as I did the last time around when Oz arguably flouted the human subjects protection regulations of his own university and of the Department of Health and Human Services by running in essence a poorly-designed clinical trial to show that green coffee bean extract can promote weight loss. Of course, it showed nothing of the sort.


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