The most important, and most ignored,
medical study in the world was published in 2004 by Olle Johansson, a scientist at the Karolinska Institute, the institution that awards the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Its other author was Örjan Hallberg and its title was “1997 – A curious year in Sweden”. In the autumn of 1997, in every one of the 21 counties in that country, the number of sick people stopped declining and abruptly began increasing.

The number of people registered as sick for more than a year had been declining and reached a record low of 43,256 in July 1997. The following month that trend suddenly reversed direction and began rising steeply. In December 2003 the number of long-term sick was 135,318.

The number of people absent from work due to illness, which had been declining steeply for years, also suddenly began increasing. It rose from a low of 118,530 in August 1997 to 309,124 in February 2003.

The number of people registered with load injury (pain in the neck, shoulders, back, etc.) doubled between 1997 and 2001.

The number of suicide attempts by young people increased by 30% between 1998 and 2001.

The yearly incidence of prostate cancer began rising sharply and increased by 32% between 1997 and 2004. In Stockholm, in men aged 50–59, new cases of prostate cancer increased nine-fold.

The number of people seriously injured in traffic accidents, which had been steadily declining, increased from 400 in 1996 to 1,200 in 2004. The number of traffic accidents involving bus drivers increased from less than 150 in 1997 to 250 in 2003.

The recovery time after breast or heart surgery operations began increasing in 1997.

Deaths from Alzheimer’s disease began to increase in 1997, and deaths due to other neurological diseases began to increase drastically.

What changed in Sweden in the fall of 1997? Digital cell phones (GSM 900 and 1800) were introduced to the whole population. Hallberg and Johansson wrote:

In 1997 many large companies introduced wireless office phone systems. One such is called GSM-in-Office and operates at 900 MHz… The employees had to use the mobile phone for all calls, in many cases for long calls. So, from 1997 many employees became exposed to microwave radiation during all work hours from small base stations, in addition to stronger radiation from their handsets during all their calls.” 

THE AUTHORS CONCLUDED THAT ACCORDING TO THEIR DATA, IT WAS THE MOBILE PHONES, AND NOT THE MOBILE PHONE TOWERS, that were responsible for the drastic decline in the health of the Swedish population. Prior to 1997, the number of sick days registered per person was greater in densely populated areas than in sparsely populated areas. After 1997, it was the reverse: rural residents were suddenly sicker than city residents. This was true for all the data they looked at: short- and long-term sicknesses; accidents, murders, and suicides; workplace-related injuries and sicknesses; breast and heart surgery recovery times; and diseases of the nervous system. They noted that in less populated areas, there is less radiation from cell towers but more radiation from a cell phone: the cell phone has to increase its power in order to maintain a connection. The only disease that did not follow this pattern was prostate cancer: it spiked equally in both city and rural dwellers. The authors concluded that mobile phones were not the cause of prostate cancer, but they were incorrect. The brain, breast, heart, and nervous system are exposed to a mobile phone at close range when it is on and in use. The prostate, by contrast, is exposed at close range when the phone is in a person’s pocket and on standby, airplane mode, or turned off; it still emits radiation at those times but the radiation does not depend on distance to a base station and is therefore the same in the city and in the country.

In 2009, the health situation in Sweden was still getting worse. Hallberg and Johansson explored the same ground in even more depth, in an article titled “Apparent decreases in Swedish public health indicators after 1997 – Are they due to improved diagnostics or to environmental factors?” They found that all the trends in their earlier article had continued. In addition, they found:

The percentage of newborns with heart problems began to increase after 1998, and almost doubled by 2007.

Between 1997 and 2005, lung cancer incidence doubled among elderly men and women.

The incidence of melanoma of the face in younger people increased by 40% between 2000 and 2006.

The age-standardized incidence of Alzheimer’s mortality increased by almost 300% between 1998 and 2008. And it increased by about 8,000% since 1979, two years after Apple invented the personal computer and everyone started being exposed to a computer screen for hours every day. The increase became steeper after the population acquired mobile phones. Before the personal computer, the incidence of Alzheimer’s mortality had been about 0.1 per 100,000 people throughout the 1970s and earlier.


When I knocked on Pelda Levey’s door on July 17, 1996 and said “We have work to do,” no one I knew owned a cell phone, and wifi had not yet been invented. Trees were the tallest structures outside of cities, and they teemed with birds, insects and wildlife. Even the trees in my Brooklyn neighborhood were frequented by wild parrots.

It is now 28 years later. In three decades of activism by the Cellular Phone Task Force and hundreds of other organizations, the world has gone from almost no mobile devices to 17,000,000,000 of them. The radiation that they produce, together with the radiation that they force all the cell towers and satellites to produce, has eradicated most of the insects, birds and wildlife on this planet and sickened the majority of its human inhabitants. Who among us sleeps well, thinks clearly, and does not suffer from one or more respiratory, neurological, cardiac, digestive, metabolic, arthritic, or psychological ailments, or from cancer or diabetes?

Rates of stroke in China have more than doubled since the advent of cell phones. The global rate of diabetes has quadrupled. One billion people are obese. The fantastic rise in diabetes and obesity are purely a result of the slowing of metabolism due to interference with electron flow in everyone’s mitochondria. 60% of all Americans today have one or more chronic illnesses. One-third of the world’s people have more than five ailments, and less than 5% of people worldwide have no health problems. The number of drug prescriptions dispensed annually in the U.S. has increased from 1.5 billion in the 1990s to 4 billion in 2009 to 7 billion in 2022. 42% of older adults in the U.S. take five or more prescription drugs, more than triple the rate before there were cell phones. 70% of all American adults take one or more prescription drugs daily.

When there are 17,000,000,000 mobile devices on Earth in the hands of people traveling around the planet in airplanes and automobiles and “needing” them wherever they go, no amount of organizing, protesting, litigating or legislating is going to change anything. Neither is using your cell phone less. If you want to be able to make even a one-minute call in an emergency even once a year, all the cell towers on Earth have to be there at your beck and call, irradiating the hell out of all of living creation 24/7. As long as it is socially acceptable to use a cell phone at all, whether in public or in your own home, hundreds of millions of people who have been severely injured by them, including me, are condemned to lonely lives of perpetual torture, unable to socialize, make a living, go to the movies, stand next to you in line at the grocery store, travel, live next door to you, or even have a home at all, until they die or commit suicide — which too many of my friends and contacts have already done.


Even people who know what is killing them don’t really understand it. Cell phones have become so normalized that even people who call themselves “EHS” are using them. They are helping to kill our world and themselves. They are perpetually trying to escape from an assault that they are carrying in their own hands and inflicting on themselves and others.

The majority of phone calls and emails I receive now come from cell phones. 

A woman called who had just purchased a plug-in device to protect her from cell tower radiation. She was calling from a cell phone.

A nurse called asking about therapy to mitigate the effects of EMFs. He called from his cell phone which he holds 12 inches from his head and to which he has attached “discs” to “neutralize” the radiation.

A woman who said she has EHS called looking for a doctor who can diagnose her so she can avoid jury duty. She called from her cell phone.

A woman emailed me from her iPhone asking for information on cell tower dangers to bring to a city council meeting.

A man emailed me from his Android wanting to do something to prevent more satellites from being launched, to protect insects from the radiation, and to stop being irradiated at night so he can sleep.

A woman called me from a small village that is surrounded by National Forest. She said she is electrically sensitive, cannot sleep, and wants to know how to protect herself. She called me from her cell phone. She told me her husband is not sensitive, but when I asked her about his health, she said he has constant back pain, is exhausted all the time, and has other ailments.

A woman living in her car left me a message. She said she has been a “wifi refugee” for a year and a half. She was calling from her cell phone and asked me to reply by texting her.

A woman left me a message saying she is “holistic,” “totally organic,” and “uses no chemicals.” She left me both her cell phone number and her husband’s cell phone number.

A filmmaker called who wants to do a movie about my work. He called me from his cell phone. He has had knee replacements and has cancer. “Where are the dragonflies, chameleons, lizards and birds that I grew up with?” he asked me.

A woman called wanting help defeating legislation that would streamline the siting of cell towers. She called from her cell phone.

A woman who is concerned about the effects of a nearby cell tower on her children called from her cell phone.

A doctor called, saying she is extremely electrosensitive and is starting a doctors’ group. She called from her cell phone.

A doctor called whose specialty is environmental medicine, who is concerned about wireless at her children’s school. She called me from her cell phone.

A woman emailed me from Australia saying she and her son are electrosensitive and live in a community where the only wifi is in a communal shed. She is concerned about plans to install Starlink in the community. She emailed me from her cell phone.

A woman called me saying her son is so severely affected by electromagnetic pollution that he can’t walk and was in the hospital. She called me from her cell phone and said her son only has a cell phone.

A man called who said he has been hypersensitive to EMFs for years and is forming an intentional community with “homes for sensitive people.” He called me from his cell phone.

People do not understand that a cell phone emits the same radiation as a cell tower, and that the radiation travels just as far. That if you put your cell phone 20 feet away from you it exposes you to as much radiation as any cell towers. That cell towers only emit enough radiation to enable the cell phones that are in use at that time to work. That when you make a call or send a text, the nearest tower (or satellite) turns on frequencies just for you and irradiates your entire neighborhood (or entire city) and everyone and everything alive in it just so you can make your call or send your text. That simply owning a cell phone, no matter how little you use it, requires all the cell towers and satellites on Earth to be there so that your phone will work when you need it. That if you make enough calls in an area with poor cell phone service, your provider is required to put up a cell tower there. That a single cell phone call causes permanent damage to your brain cells. That a two-minute call can take your body hours or days to recover from, if ever. That distance does not protect you. That you cannot “neutralize” radiation. That there are no “safe frequencies”. That your phone was manufactured with rare earth minerals that were mined by child slaves in the Congo. That the willingness to use cell phones ensures the demise of landlines — and of birds, insects and wildlife. That when you turn on your phone for any reason, you are torturing anyone who happens to live near you or be near you whether they know it or not. That a cell phone emits radiation even when it is off. That the only difference between “electrosensitive” people and other people is that “sensitive” people know what is sickening them and other people do not know what is sickening them.

During the years I was in medical school, I attended a week-long holistic health conference every autumn in San Diego, put on by the Mandala Society. I heard and met extraordinary people there. I met Ilana Rubenfeld, whom I later trained with and whose bodymind healing method I became a practitioner of. I met Moshe Feldenkrais, whose method of healing I also later studied and became a teacher of. I met Olga Worrall, an amazing healer. I met Swami Rama, Milton Trager, Ram Dass, John Lilly, and Joseph Chilton Pearce. But there was one speaker whose name I do not remember who made a lasting impression on me. He was a pastor, and he spoke about technology. When you gather wood and rub two sticks together to make a fire, he said, you know exactly what produced the light and how it came into being. But when you flip a light switch, all you know is that there is a power plant somewhere and the light came on, but you do not know the steps in between, or the consequences of those steps. That, he said, is “the failure of the middle”. And that is the downfall of our civilization and our world.

As I told an audience in Taos, New Mexico six years ago, we are like the monkey who cannot not get his hand out of the jar unless he lets go of the peanut. We are grasping it more tightly than ever. We have been sucked into the jar and its lid is closing over us, suffocating us. We must let go of our cell phones now. Not after you figure out how, which may be never. First throw it away, then figure out how to live without it. You won’t be able to do everything you are doing now, but you will be living as if the world will be here tomorrow. We don’t have until next year, we are killing ourselves right now. Throw it away, tell everyone you know that you are doing it and why, and tell them to do likewise. It is the only way we and our children and the animals and plants around us — the ones who are still here — will survive. And get in touch with me to help organize this worldwide effort to de-mobilize society.

Arthur Firstenberg
President, Cellular Phone Task Force
Author, The Invisible Rainbow: A History of Electricity and Life
P.O. Box 6216
Santa Fe, NM 87502
+1 505-471-0129
June 25, 2024

Subscribe to my newsletters.
View all past newsletters.
Donate to our work. CPTF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.