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CNN Larry King Live
Dale Cochran's First Interview Since the Death of Her Husband Johnnie; Is There a Link Between Cell Phones and Cancer?
Aired May 27, 2008 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, cell phones and cancer -- is there a link?
Johnnie Cochran's widow speaks publicly for the first time since her husband's death. A brain tumor killed the famed attorney and father of three at the age of 67.
Were cell phones to blame?
It's a multi-billion dollar industry and a mounting controversy. Two hundred and fifty-five million users want to know, what are the risks?
Are they paying a price or panicking for no good reason?
Experts on both sides of the issue are here and it's next. And it's only on LARRY KING LIVE.
It is a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Dale Cochran, the widow of the famed attorney, the late Johnnie Cochran.
Also with us is Dr. Keith Black, one of the major figures in neurosurgery in this country. He's chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery, director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at Cedars-Sinai. And he was Johnnie Cochran's doctor.
Later, we'll get into a major discussion about cell phones and we'll include our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Johnnie died March 29 2005, of a brain tumor.
This is Dale's first interview since then.
What indication did he give you that something was wrong?
DALE COCHRAN, JOHNNIE COCHRAN'S WIDOW: Initially, there was a loss of memory. He asked his secretary to call me and get me on the phone because he couldn't remember the phone number to the house. And...
KING: Did he dismiss that or get concerned?
D. COCHRAN: I got concerned right away that he couldn't remember my telephone number. And we immediately went to see a doctor in the next day or two.
KING: Is that memory loss a major cause of concern, Dr. Black?
DR. KEITH BLACK, NEUROSURGEON, CEDARS-SINAI MEDICAL CENTER, JOHNNIE COCHRAN'S PHYSICIAN: Larry, memory loss can be a cause of concern. I mean any function that the brain is responsible for can be a symptom of a brain tumor.
KING: So you should check it out, any symptom?
BLACK: Any symptom related to memory, speech, vision, movement.
BLACK: Headaches. You know, one of the most common presenting symptoms in an adult is new onset seizure, as well as headaches.
KING: Like Ted Kennedy had?
BLACK: Similar to Senator Ted Kennedy's.
KING: Johnnie Cochran probably was one of the best known attorneys in the United States. Not probably, he was one of the best known attorneys. He was a celebrity in his own right, a great friend of this show. We have a little montage here for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNNIE COCHRAN, ATTORNEY: It makes no sense. It doesn't fit.
If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury in the above entitled action, find the defendant, Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty of the crime of murder.
J. COCHRAN: The resolution of this case is in no way an admission of guilt by Michael Jackson.
This is a great, exhilarating victory for Sean Combs. It's a victory, really, for all of us.
Thank you for your attention. God bless you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The night after the Simpson decision, Johnnie guested on this show. It was an historic moment because O.J. called in during that show.
How did he become your patient, doctor?
BLACK: We were actually, Larry, close friends. We had actually vacationed together on summer vacations with our mutual families. And, actually, before he developed the tumor that was ultimately more aggressive, I was treating Johnnie for a more benign tumor a few years before.
KING: In the brain?
BLACK: It was in the skull, yes.
KING: But that was not a death signal?
BLACK: That's correct. And it was unrelated to the subsequent tumor that he developed.
KING: How did you find out what he had?
BLACK: I actually received a call from Johnnie's assistant, as Dale indicated, concerned about his difficulty with memory and also some difficulty with speech. He was in New York at the time and had been admitted to a hospital in New York.
They had performed some studies, MRI scans. They saw an abnormality within the brain. They were not sure what the abnormality on the MRI scan demonstrated. I initially thought it might be an infection. And I spoke with Johnnie and also with Dale and they flew back to Los Angeles, where we did further diagnostic studies.
KING: Did you have to do a biopsy?
BLACK: We did a biopsy, yes.
KING: Dale, did you know he was terminal?
D. COCHRAN: I don't really like to use the word terminal. I knew that he had a very serious malignant tumor, but I didn't look at it in terms of being terminal.
KING: Did he know how serious it was?
D. COCHRAN: We knew it was serious, but we thought it was treatable and that, you know, we should work our way out of it.
KING: What was the treatment? He had surgery, right?
BLACK: Initially, Johnny's tumor was in an area that is considered not safe to operate on, Larry. It was in an area that was critical for his language -- in fact, very similar, I presume, for Senator Kennedy's. It's responsibility for both his ability to comprehend and understand language, as well as memory.
So surgery, at least to try to remove all of the tumor that we could see on the MRI scan, was not one of the initial treatment options. So that -- you know, that option wasn't one of the weapons that we could use to fight the tumor.
KING: But later you did use surgery, right?
BLACK: Later, as part of an experimental protocol, we went in and did surgery, yes.
KING: We all liked Johnnie. I don't know anyone who didn't like him -- defense attorneys who opposed him, prosecutors...
D. COCHRAN: Oh, yes.
KING: You had to like Johnnie Cochran.
D. COCHRAN: Um-hmm.
KING: What were his last days like? Did he die at home?
D. COCHRAN: He died at home. The whole family was there, all of the kids and myself, his sisters, his father, who has lived with us for a number of years.
KING: He's still living?
D. COCHRAN: He's still living. He still lives with me. He's 91- years-old, I'm pleased to say.
KING: Did Johnnie know he was passing?
D. COCHRAN: You know, it was a very quiet period of time. And, again, we knew it was serious, but we were trying to keep him as comfortable and maintain a good quality of life for him in the last days.
KING: Doctor, is there pain involved in this?
BLACK: Larry, typically no.
BLACK: But the brain has no sensation. It provides sensation to the rest of the body. But this is not a painful process.
KING: So do Dale and Dr. Black think there's a link between cell phones and Johnnie Cochran's brain tumor?
He used cell phones quite a lot.
Find out when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIFFANY COCHRAN EDWARDS, JOHNNIE COCHRAN'S DAUGHTER: He was such a wonderful man. He was just wonderful. He meant everything to me. And, dad, I know that you are the best dressed man in heaven.
JONATHAN COCHRAN, JOHNNIE COCHRAN'S SON: I look at it now and it seems like he was taken too soon. But I think of it as he's on a big case and for whatever reason, God needed a lawyer in heaven and said call Johnnie Cochran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Sanjay Gupta joins us. Dr. Gupta is our chief CNN medical correspondent, himself is a practicing neurosurgeon.
OK, let's move to the subject at hand.
Do you see, Dale, as a lay person, the possibility of cell phone use and Johnnie's illness?
D. COCHRAN: I think perhaps there could be. But as a lay person, I have no knowledge -- scientific knowledge that there is a definitive link.
KING: People at CNN who saw a lot of him said he was on that phone a lot. Is that true?
D. COCHRAN: Yes, he was on the phone a lot. But as Dr. Black used to say, use an earpiece when we're using the cell phone.
KING: That's a simple solution to this, don't -- instead of your phones, attach an earpiece to the phone?
D. COCHRAN: Attach an earpiece immediately.
KING: All right, Dr. Black, what do you make of the possibility?
BLACK: Well, Larry, I think if we look at the evidence that we have now, it's difficult to say that cell phones have a direct link to brain cancer, but it's also difficult to say that they're safe. There have been studies that come down on both sides of the issue.
If you look at some of the studies that have been performed -- I mean one of the studies that is very concerning has been a story out of Europe that looked at a long-term exposure to the use of cell phones over a period of 10 years. And when patients or people were exposed to over 2,000 hours of cell phone use -- which is about an hour a day for 10 years -- that study reported about a 3.7-fold increase in the risk of developing brain cancer.
KING: Is that considered high?
BLACK: That's considered, you know, a significant increase, although the overall incidence of brain cancer is low. But there have been other studies to show no correlation.
KING: What do you read, Dr. Gupta.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's interesting, because you look at all the studies out there and most people will say, look, I mean they're fine. A lot of scientists will say that. But, you know, I've read all these studies, Larry. I mean I've spent the last year sort of really reading this. And there are 16 really good studies out there, a few since 2000.
Most of them, if you really dissect it down, they really only follow the patients along for just a few years. And, you know, if people use their cell phones for years and years and kids start using them, they're going to use them their whole lifetime. Also, some of the studies say regular cell phone use is using it one time a week for six months.
I mean who uses a cell phone that little nowadays?
So my point is this, that, you know, if you read the studies alone, they'll say they're safe.
But if you start to say well, look, wait a second, how about if it's 10 years, how about it's 20, 30, 40 years...
KING: We don't know yet.
GUPTA: We don't know. And if you use your phone all the time -- like I -- you know, people in the news business, they have a cell phone to the ear all the time.
Is that really safe?
KING: Doctor, I know it's true, having interviewed many people on the subject of tobacco and lung cancer, we can't tell you why tobacco causes lung cancer. We know that it causes lung cancer by the statistical rate.
Do you think we'll have a statistical rate to link these two?
BLACK: Well, I think, as Dr. Gupta said, one of the big concerns that we face is that there has not, Larry, been a definitive study to date. And I think particularly among young people who are logging, you know, thousands of hours...
BLACK: Teenagers and even younger -- and they will be using cell phones for 20 or 30 years, we do not have enough data now to say that, you know, that is a safe device. Unfortunately, you know, my suspicion is that it's going to be five years or 10 years before we have a definitive answer. And unfortunately, you know, as you showed at the beginning of the show, there's a billion people, you know, that will be using cell phones and they will be using cell phones for many years. We don't know that that will necessarily be a safe practice.
KING: All right, Dr. Gupta, Dr. Black says it's possible.
Do you say it's possible?
GUPTA: Yes, I do. And, you know, when we were -- when I was researching for the book that you and I talked about, I looked into all of this. I started researching it and really understanding it. And I think when I had kids, I became more interested in it, frankly. And I think it's possible.
I think it's, you know, it's one of those things where, you know, I use a cell phone all the time. Most people do. I use an earpiece now, as Dale Cochran talked about. But I think it's one of those things where you recognize that this is a -- it's a non-ionizing, microwave producing device that we carry around with us all the time. And, you know, I think, for the most part, people watching who use a cell phone will be just fine. But there is a concern out there and I think people need to be careful.
KING: Dr. Black, from the place where Johnnie's tumor was, was that at a place where it might be near where a cell phone would operate by the ear?
BLACK: Yes. And, again, you know, although there hasn't been any definitive studies, there have been some studies that show a correlation between the side that you use a cell phone on and the side that you use...
KING: If it's the left side, you're going to get it on the left side?
BLACK: ...the side that you develop a brain tumor on. But -- and that's been one of the red flags that has raised concerns among people that are looking into this, whether there is a correlation because, you know, we see tumors developing in the location -- close to the location that people do use cell phones.
KING: Now, I'm told that -- I'm not an expert on this so I'm going to read it. "Cell phones operate with radio frequencies, RFs. It's a form of energy. What's known about the impact of RF on human tissue?"
GUPTA: Well, you know, there's ionizing radiation and there's non-ionizing radiation. Cell phones give off non-ionizing radiation.
GUPTA: Ionizing is like the x-rays and things like that. And I think pretty much everyone knows if you are x-rays all the time, that's not good. Non-ionizing is less problematic, I think, than ionizing.
One of the bigger concerns, though, I think, is the fact that it just generates a lot of heat or it generates heat. And you're putting a heat source, essentially, close to your ear, close to your brain for, you know, again, long periods of time, depending on how long you use it.
KING: Do you use cell phones, Dana?
D. COCHRAN: Yes. I use cell phones.
KING: On a regular basis, every day?
D. COCHRAN: On a regular basis, yes.
KING: Dr. Black?
KING: I said Dane and it's Dale. I'm sorry.
D. COCHRAN: That's all right. BLACK: I use a cell phone, but I always use an earpiece. You know, it's the antenna for the cell phone that is the source for the microwave energy. And as Dr. Gupta said, you know, that energy is directly proportional, actually, to the square of how close you hold it to your brain. So, you know, I think the safe practice is to use an earpiece so that you keep the microwave antenna away from your head.
KING: So are you going to instruct the patient of your...
BLACK: I've instructed Dale...
D. COCHRAN: Oh, yes. Yes.
BLACK: ...and anyone who will listen that the safe practice is to use an earpiece.
D. COCHRAN: Yes.
KING: Dr. Gupta, do you use a cell phone?
GUPTA: I do. And I use an earpiece. And part of that's due to Dr. Black, because I talked to him a couple of years ago about this and...
So you all were suspicious?
KING: You had to be suspicious or why -- why bother with the earpiece?
GUPTA: Yes, I think so. And, you know, even if you look at the manuals and things like that, they'll tell you that there is a, as Dr. Black said, the further away you put the phone from your ear, you know, the much safer it is. It sort of drops off in terms of the amount of radiation you're exposed to.
KING: Some have called cell phone use more dangerous than smoking. Next, a doctor who stands by that statement.
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
Dale Cochran will be joining us later on.
Dr. Keith Black and Dr. Sanjay Gupta remain with us.
Another neurosurgeon joins us. He's in Canberra, Australia. He's Dr. Vini Khurana. He's associate professor of neurosurgery at the Canberra Hospital.
Doctor Khurana, you say that the danger of cell phones could have far broader health ramifications than asbestos and smoking. What do you base it on?
DR. VINI KHURANA, NEUROSURGEON, THE CANBERRA HOSPITAL: I base it on the fact, Larry, that at this point in time, there's just over three billion users of cell phones worldwide. So that's half of our world population, or almost half. We've reached saturation points. For example, in Australia, there are 22 million cell phones and 21 million people. And the concern is not just brain tumors, but other health effects associated or reported to be associated with cell phones, including behavioral disturbances, salivary gland tumors, male infertility and microwave sickness syndrome.
So we're not just talking about tumors, and I was not just implying brain tumors, but there are other health effects. And with so many users and users starting at the age of three and up now, we should be concerned. And I stand by those comments.
KING: Dr. Black, would you comment on what he just said?
BLACK: Well, I think that we do not have conclusive studies, at this point, to make a scientific conclusion that there is a, you know, a definite correlation. I do think that he raises a very important concern, I think particularly among young people using cell phones. And I think the concern among other types of neurological problems, other than brain cancer, because, you know, a microwave antenna is very similar to a microwave oven. It's heating the brain. So we don't know what long-term effects that will have on memory as our young adults age and other...
KING: So this is a cause of concern?
BLACK: ...other neurological problems. That's correct.
KING: Dr. Gupta, what do you make of what Dr. Khurana just said?
GUPTA: Yes, you know, I think even Dr. Khurana, you know, he looked at existing studies. He didn't do his own studies here, but he's looked at something that I think has been concerning to a lot of people who have really sat down and looked at these studies for some time.
One is that, you know, where there is smoke, there's fire, that's the old adage, right?
And I think that there's enough sort of concern out there to at least prompt people to think more about how they use their cell phones, using earpieces, keeping it further away from the ear and things like that.
How profound it is, is a little bit harder to say.
KING: I want you look at something on the screen now. We know that brain tumors are the number one cancer killer among children in the United States and the second most common form of cancer in kids.
What, Dr. Khurana, does this tell us? KHURANA: Well, it tells us that we need to be very careful if we're looking to find answers to what might be causing problems. We need to be -- we need to have an open mind. We need have an open mind. And if there is a potential cause out there, we need to seriously look into it. And I think as part of that question, the World Health Organization has come to a point where it agreed about a decade ago -- or over a decade ago -- to host the Interphone Study Group. And I would under -- I would hope that most people are aware of what that is.
KING: How do children's phones, Dr. Black, differ from -- children's brains, rather, differ from adults?
BLACK: Well, the -- in the developing brain, you have a lot more dividing nerve cells and supportive cells in the brain. So it's in a very dynamic state. And those cells are more vulnerable to developing cancer from an injury or other types of problems. We know from laboratory animals, for example, that, you know, the most effective way of inducing a tumor is to induce it in a young developing embryo, in a young developing animal. So those brains are much more susceptible.
KING: One type of tumor often mentioned in the discussion of potential risk of cell phones is acoustic neuroma.
Sanjay is over by our board. What is that?
GUPTA: Well, let me give you a picture here, Larry, to sort of show you this. This is animation of the brain, sort of looking at it from the behind, as you can see there. I'm going to spin that brain around and take you to a very specific part of it. Here's the ear. Larry, we're going to go inside the ear here to the inner part over here. And that is right in here, that red part. That is a tumor that comes off one of the specific nerves in the inner ear.
Let me show you what that looks like on an MRI scan. This is a scan that somebody would get in the doctor's office. You sort of look at that scan and you see a specific tumor and sort of within the brain. If we have that, I'll show you that.
But, basically, this is a tumor of the inner ear and -- there you go, Larry. You can see it here. Just to orient you, the eyes are going to be up here, the ear is going to be over here. This big white mass, that is what's an acoustic neuroma -- a tumor of the specific nerve in that inner ear area.
KING: Is that something that you would possibly associate with cell phones?
GUPTA: Well, some of the studies that we've been talking about so far this hour talk about this specific sort of tumor and it's possible association here. Dr. Black mentioned that some of the studies are actually looking at the cell phone usage found. In some of these European studies, almost a four times increased likelihood of developing tumors like this one in people who are chronic cell phone users. KING: Thanks, Sanjay.
We have an e-mail from Jody in North Royalton, Ohio: "My husband has a grade three inoperable glioma on the left side his brain. Prior to the diagnosis, he was constantly on his cell phone, but he held it to the right side of his head. If cell phone use was a factor, wouldn't there be evidence on that side?" -- Dr. Black.
BLACK: Well, I think it's very difficult, Larry, to make a direct correlation between an individual developing a brain tumor and the use of cell phones. So we know that there is...
KING: You can't discuss an individual case then?
BLACK: Well, there is a base line rate of people developing tumors. So, you know, one's brain tumor may be or it may not be related to a particular type of environmental insult. So just because it's -- you know, you have a tumor, doesn't mean that it's linked to cell phones. So, you know, tumors that are closer to that area may be more likely. Also, these brain cells -- cancer cells can migrate. So it's possible for a cell to get an injury and then migrate to a different location within the brain, as well.
KING: Dr. Khurana, by the way, do you use a cell phone?
KHURANA: I do, Larry. I mean they're invaluable, of course, as we all know. I use it on the speaker phone mode. I do not hold it to my ear.
KING: Want to know what the American Cancer Society thinks about cell phones?
Their answer might surprise you and it's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Remaining with us, Dr. Keith Black, chairman of department of neurosurgery at Cedar-Sinai, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent and a neurosurgeon himself, in Australia, Dr. Vini Khurana, neurosurgeon, associate professor of neurosurgery at Canberra Hospital. Joining us now from Washington, Dr. Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society, vice president of epidemiology and surveillance.
Where does the American Cancer Society, doctor, stand on this subject?
DR. MICHAEL THUN, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY: The way I think the best way to look at this is keep an open mind, but also be very aware of what we know and what we don't know. So just to go through what we know, we know that the type of radio frequency that comes from cell phones is very different from what comes from an X-Ray or a nuclear bomb. So we're really talking about a very different type of emission that is sort of the halfway between an FM radio and the microwave.
Secondly, we know that in the country that's used cell phones for the longest, which is Sweden -- they came in the early 1980's and the early cell phones were -- had much higher emissions than today's cell phones. The brain cancer rates have been flat since the introduction of cell phones. That doesn't completely clear the story, but it is an important piece of information.
Third, we know that the studies that have been done on brain cancer, and I'm going to distinguish brain cancer from acoustic neuroma, have largely been reassuring. And the studies that have found an association, some of them have found such a strong association that they really don't fit at all with the time course of brain cancer in the United States.
KING: Can you break it down? Well, let's break it down a little. Do you think there's a link?
THUN: I think that what's still in question is the acoustic neuromas. I think that cell phones are not risk-free. They certainly cause car accidents. I think that there are always surprises when you have a new technology and you have hundreds of millions of people using them. I think arrogance is the worst way to go. And I think it's quite sensible for people who are concerned to use an ear phone and to basically eliminate their exposure.
But I think now most of the people who actually do research on brain cancer causes are very skeptical that cell phones cause brain cancer.
KING: Dr. Khurana, how would you respond?
KHURANA: I strongly disagree with Dr. Thun's perspective. Let me just read you something here, Larry. This is professor Bruce Armstrong, professor and head of the University of Sydney's public health -- school of public health. He's Australia's -- the head of the Interphone arm that is incorporating Australian research. He's the head of that.
He came on national television two weeks ago, and I'll quote you: "I think the evidence that is accumulating is pointing towards an effect of mobile phones on tumors. I would not want to be a heavy user of a mobile phone. People might be shocked to hear that the evidence does seem to be coming more strongly in support of harmful effects."
He specifies glioma, a primary brain tumor, cancer, acoustic neuroma and prodded gland tumors. Now beyond that, Larry, when Dr. Thun talks about no rise in the published incidents rates of tumors in Sweden, the strongest studies that have pointed towards links between cell phones and brain tumors have, in fact, come from Sweden. And while there hasn't been an increase in the rate of brain cancers overall, we have to also remember that they do take time before they are registered in local registries and that data has to be correlated and eventually that data will come through.
KING: We're going to -- we're going to excuse Dr. Black for a couple of segments. Before he leaves us -- he will be returning with Dana Cochran. Are you more confused when you listen to the two doctors?
BLACK: No, no Larry, I'm not. It's not uncommon in science to have conflicting articles. You know, a lot of studies may not be perfect. Each study may have some flaw to the study. So, you know, as I said in the beginning, at this point, we cannot say with any certainty that cell phones either are safe or not safe. And my concern is that with the widespread use of cell phones, I think the worst scenario would be that we get the definitive study ten years from now and we find there's a correlation.
KING: Dr. Black will be returning. And the other doctors will remain and he will return with Dale Cochran. We invited the wireless industry's trade organization, CTIA, the wireless association, to take part in tonight's discussion. They declined.
However, CTIA did provide us with this statement: "this is an issue that should be guided by science. The overwhelming majority of studies that have been published in scientific journals around the globe show that wireless phones do not pose a health risk. Furthermore, this is the public position of leading health organizations, such as the United States Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, the American Cancer Society, ACS, and the World Health Organization, WHO. The industry supports continued research as technology continues to evolve, but wishes to stress the fact that there is a consensus among leading health organizations regarding published scientific research showing no reason for concern."
CTIA also referred to us the American Cancer Society for more comments on this topic.
When we come back, cell phones past and present. Is technology advancing faster than medical research? Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn't blame the cell phone companies. It's more the individual's responsibility.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cigarettes have surgeon generals warning on them. I just think it should be something the public should know about.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it is conclusive that it can cause brain tumors, then I think there should be some sort of a warning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Dr. Gupta, Dr. Khurana and Dr. Thun remain with us.
Joining us in New York is Lewis Slesin. He is editor of MicrowaveNews.com. That's the founding editor and publisher of Microwave News, maybe the major publication in this field.
Two quick things, Lewis. First, what do you think of the theory of the possibility of the cell phone causing brain cancer? And, two, how far along has the industry evolved?
DR. LOUIS SLESIN, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "MICROWAVE NEWS": Well, the first thing is that it is quite possible because we're seeing these kinds of effects in a number of epidemiological studies on this Interphone study mentioned on the program. Studies from northern Europe, from Israel especially, from France, from Germany, all point to a risk of, you know, cell phone links to brain tumors and to neuromas and grand tumors.
KING: And how far has the --
SLESIN: What we're missing is the understanding of how this could possibly work. We don't have a mechanism and that's a big stumbling block at the moment.
KING: Let's watch. In fact, Sanjay is going to do a little exercise for us in the growth of an industry.
GUPTA: It's a trip down memory lane, if you will. You remember early cell phones. This is a Motorola phone. It used to come in a bag. This is the early '80s. Then they came with this handle. This was the mid'80s. Things were changing, the size of the phone, the quality of the phone, but also the amount of radiation it gave off. It went down as phones got more advanced.
This was a phone from 1983. Take a look at this thing, it's just huge. This is a phone people probably became most familiar with. This was the Motorola flip phone. This was '92. And this was a phone that was probably one of the most popular at that time. The Nokia a few years later, this was '98, and then '99 and then 2001.
They got smaller, as you can see. They went down in this non- ionizing radio frequency as well, which was a good thing, I think, by everyone's admission.
KING: Is this much safer than that?
GUPTA: It's hard to say. The science would suggest that they were actually all safe. You know, they didn't give off enough non- ionizing radio frequency to be a problem. But if you are worried about the fact that people use phones all the time -- they have them to their ear all the time -- this would be a much safer bet than something like this.
KING: Run them down. Dr. Thun, do you think this one is safer than that one?
THUN: I think it produces less emissions, but I think that this is a little bit missing the point. The main point is that if one is concerned about the emissions from cell phones, you can get rid of it almost entirely by a Bluetooth or ear plug. And so we have a situation with a widely used technology in which we don't have very, very long-term follow-up, and we don't have very long-term follow-up of kids. And, so, you are sort of asking for a definite answer to state where the science is quite indefinite.
The weight of the evidence is negative. But we don't have all the answers.
KING: One of the problems, Dr. Khurana, is almost everybody has a cell phone. So you can't run a comparison like tobacco and lung cancer, the user and the nonuser. Everyone is a user.
THUN: You are absolutely right. That is one of the problems with the Interphone study, which is the World Health Organization study between 13 countries. You are right. The control group uses cell phones. They may be using cordless phones as well, which we also know are risk factors based on data. So here you've got a control group that uses it, and you have a user group that uses it. As Dr. Gupta has pointed out, their quantification of what constitutes regular use is itself quite alarming.
All you have to do to be a regular user is use a cell phone for once a week for six months or more. That's not much cell phone usage, is it?
KING: Louis, would it be a simple solution, everyone should use an ear phone?
SLESIN: That's right. That's what people should do. I'm not sure I would advocate the Bluetooth because although it's much weaker, you are putting the antenna, the transmitter right into your ear, next to your brain. We don't know about thresholds. We don't know about mechanisms. So caution should be our guide.
I think everybody on this program has agreed that using a headset is really the right way to go. I'd certainly agree with that.
KING: Sanjay, what does the manual say?
GUPTA: It's interesting. Hardly anyone ever reads these safety manuals.
KING: They come with the phone.
GUPTA: They come with the phone. If you read this very carefully, it says, when carrying the device, not even when using it, just carrying it and the device is on, you should be using a specific pre-approved holster that has been tested for compliance. Often times, these phone come with a holster.
KING: Use it?
GUPTA: They say, use it. They say that makes it the most safe. And when you are actually using the phone, it should be kept at least 15 millimeters up to an inch away from your ear. I mean, the proper way to use a phone would to be hold it like this.
KING: When they see keep it in the holster, that means keep it away from your body.
GUPTA: Keep it away from your body.
KING: Somebody is scared. GUPTA: Yes, this is from the manufacturer themselves.
KING: You are watching LARRY KING LIVE.
Thanks, Louis Slesin, for being with us. If you heard any specific references to brand names of cell phones tonight, they are just representatives of cell phones in general, and not indicative that any brand would be more likely to cause health problems.
Next, do you believe cell phones are harmful? We'll have a quick vote. Go to CNN.com/larryking and tell us. Is there a best way to use a cell phone? That's ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Joining our panel from New York is Dr. Ted Schwartz. He's director of brain tumor surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
I don't know what you think about this whole subject. But first, if the manual says keep it in some sort of holster and keep it away from your ear, would you say the manufacturer is worried about something, Dr. Schwartz?
DR. TED SCHWARTZ, NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL: I don't really think they are worried about brain tumors. I really think the overwhelming amount of evidence that we have from reviewing the literature has shown there really is no good, viable link between cell phone use and brain tumors.
And I really want to focus on a couple of issues, which is that, you know, when a patient comes into your office with a brain tumor, and they are very scared; they are afraid as to what caused this brain tumor, it's very important to focus a patient's attention and to focus the nation's attention not on this potentially very remote cause of brain tumors, but on trying to think about new treatment options and trying to get the nation to focus on how can we treat brain tumors, rather than this very remote cause of brain tumors.
KING: But if it is a cause and can be helped by using ear phones why not?
SCHWARTZ: Yes, there's no problem with using ear phones. And I think it's a great idea if you are worried about it. But I do want to say that if you look at the literature now, most of the data shows that there is no link. And there's really no good mechanism by which non-ionizing radiation can cause brain tumors.
KING: Dr. Khurana, you want to respond?
KHURANA: Absolutely. First, Dr. Schwartz, we don't even know how we think. We don't know how we think and how processing in the brain results in appropriate speech, based on different functionalities at different locations of the brain. So we don't know how we speak yet or think. Yet we know that we do.
And so just because we don't know the mechanism or the link between -- at a molecular level, between how cell phones may generate the milieu at a molecular level that results in a brain tumor does not mean that there is no mechanism. There's no known mechanism, but not necessarily no mechanism.
Secondly, you referred to the overwhelming data that suggests it's safe. I would like to point you to the long-term data that's coming out of the Interphone studies. And I think I should quote them. Before doing that, I do agree with you. When a patient comes to the surgery, the focus is not what caused it. It's how to best treat it and how to help them. And this is not implying that every brain tumor is the result of this. Absolutely not.
But as Larry has also said, if there's a known cause, and if there is a possibility of even mitigating the incidence even slightly, that would be helpful.
KING: Quickly, doctor, because I'm running short of time. Go ahead.
KHURANA: OK, Sedesky (ph) from Israel, the Israel arm of Interphone, this is what she says: "a positive dose response trend was found. Our results suggest an association between cellular phone use and prodded gland tumors."
Lacola (ph) from Finland, Interphone group, "for more than 10 years, of mobile phone use reported on the side of the head where the tumor was located, an increased odds ratio of borderline statistical significance was found."
And others have said the same thing. It's the long-term data we should be looking at.
KING: We're obviously going to devote more time to this. I thank all of our guests. When we come back, Dr. Gupta will be with us, along with the return of Dale Cochran and Dr. Keith Black. We'll wrap it up when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNNIE COCHRAN, ATTORNEY: If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.
Every morning when I get up, when I look at all the choices of things I could be, I love being a lawyer. It gives you an opportunity to do interesting things. It gives me an opportunity to represent people who are injured. It gives me an opportunity to represent people who I believe are innocent. It gives me an opportunity if I want to go into politics. For young kids out there, it's a great career.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Dale Cochran, you have heard a lot of the discussion tonight. What do you make of it? D. COCHRAN: Well, I think it's an enigma. It remains an enigma. We want to do everything we can to find out if there is a link. But, more importantly, my particular interest is to accelerate discoveries in the treatment of brain tumors, which is why I am so happy that we've established the Johnny Cochran Brain Tumor Center.
KING: More information go to what?
D. COCHRAN: Cedars-Sinai Johnny Cochran Brain Tumor Center.
KING: Is the Johnny Cochran Brain Tumor Center -- we were there at its opening.
D. COCHRAN: Yes, you were.
KING: That's Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. Dr. Black, do you have questions about portable phones, cordless phones?
BLACK: Again, I think the emissions from cordless phones in the house are very low, and I would be less concerned with those than cell phones. But, Larry, we also know there are other environmental causes that have been related to brain tumors as well. Firemen have an occupational risk of brain cancer because of diesel exposure. We're looking at the association at Cedars with a grant from the air quality management district between air pollution and brain cancer.
People that work in plastic factories -- as Dale said, I think one of the things that we're very excited about is not only trying to identify potential causes that we can eliminate, but also trying to find effective treatments and cures at the Johnny Cochran Brain Tumor Center.
KING: It's a wonderful place and a great addition the health system in this country. Dr. Gupta is at the big board again with some tips on safer cell phone use.
GUPTA: Larry, based on the industry's recommendations, all the scientific studies we read, let me show you the safest way to use a cell phone. Brad here has a wired ear piece in his left ear. It goes down to his phone. It's carried in the approved holster. That is what they recommend.
Brad has a phone in his breast pocket. They don't recommend carrying a phone in your breast pocket. Brad has a phone in his pocket of his pants. Again, they don't recommend that based on the industry's recommendation. And finally, not wearing one of these non- ionizing Bluetooth things all the time. They do give off less radiation than a cell phone, but wearing it all the time could be a problem.
KING: There are a lot of don'ts.
GUPTA: There are a lot of don'ts. The major do is use one of these wired ear pieces. Again, a wired ear piece down to an industry approved holster is what the people recommend.
KING: Thank you so much, Dr. Sanjay -- Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
The food -- by the way, we'll show you a screen effect here. The Food and Drug Administration made recommendations about cell phone use. First, to use cell phones less often and to use land lines whenever possible. And the FDA also recommends keeping cell phones away from your head by using a speaker phone or using a head set or other connection to remote antenna. I keep coming back to it.
It seems, Dale, that if they don't have any proof, people are at least concerned.
D. COCHRAN: Yes, I think people are concerned. I can think back at least five years ago when Dr. Black wore an ear piece back then. We could barely find them in the stores but he had one on and Johnny would say, listen if Dr. Black is wearing an ear piece, we should also. And that's what we've done. So there are definitely precautions we should take.
But I think that it is a question that needs to be studied and examined along with other causes of brain cancer.
KING: When something happens like to Senator Ted Kennedy, that focuses more effort on it, doesn't it, more attention?
BLACK: It does, Larry. And I think that given the research and break throughs we are now making in cancer and brain cancer in particular, one of the positive outcomes is that if we can get more research funding, we can accelerate finding an effective treatment for this disease.
KING: You can contact the Johnny Cochran Brain Center at Cedars- Sinai. Do you believe that cell phones are harmful? Go to CNN.com/larryking and take our quick vote.
While your there, download our latest podcast, Jesse Ventura. Or check out our newest web feature, about last night.
Speaking of last night, our "American Idol" contest winners, Laura from Morgantown, West Virginia, she knew the complete set list. And congratulations to Jeff in Freemont, Nebraska. He got David Cook's set completely correct. Jeff and Laura, your prizes are in the mail. Each of you gets a pair of my suspenders autographed by every "American Idol" finalist.
Time now for Anderson Cooper and "A.C. 360" -- Anderson.