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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Boston Globe Health and Science staff:
Karen Weintraub, Deputy Health and Science Editor, and Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor.
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Monday, September 10, 2007
Halamka not worried by report linking microchips to tumors
Dr. John Halamka (left) is used to fielding questions about the radio frequency identification chip embedded in his arm, and not just when he sets off security alarms at Home Depot.
The chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who had the microchip containing his medical data implanted in 2004, says he isn't worried by an Associated Press report that the US Food and Drug Administration ignored studies linking the chips to cancer in mice when it approved the devices.
"The chip is ceramic, surrounded by medical-grade glass that is, to my knowledge, invisible to the immune system," he said in an e-mail today. "Thus, I cannot imagine how a chip could induce tumors."
Halamka said he has talked to veterinarians who have implanted thousands of the chips into dogs and cats, with no side effects. He suspects that the studies of mice are not applicable to humans because mice are predisposed to developing tumors at the site of any injection.
"I've had no side effects or tumors," he said. "Should I ever develop any issues with my implanted chip, you'll be the first to know!"