Mobile Phone And Brain Cancer Links
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Largest study to date finds increased tumour risk for heavy
mobile phone users but says 'biases and errors' make use of
these findings impossible
Researchers have failed to find a conclusive link between
mobile phone usage and increased brain tumour risk.
Although there is, as yet, no known biological mechanism by
which mobile phones could cause cancer, an international
study was set up in 2000 to look into the links.
The Interphone study, the largest of its kind, covered
almost 13,000 people across 13 countries and compared
frequency of exposure and mobile phone use of people with
four types of brain tumours - tumours of the brain (glioma
and meningioma) and of the acoustic nerve (schwannoma) and
partotid gland - against healthy volunteers.
According to the study there were 'suggestions' of an
increased risk of glioma and meningioma in heavy phone
users. However, the study authors concluded these findings
were 'biased' because some users reported improbable levels
of use of 12 or more hours a day, and 'limited' by the
study's methodology, because people with brain tumours were
more likely to overestimate the role of a potential risk
'The balance of evidence from this study, and in the
previously existing scientific literature, does not suggest
a causal link between mobile phone use and risk of brain
tumours,' said Professor Anthony Swerdlow, from the
Institute of Cancer Research.
Professor Swerdlow did admit that mobile phone use had
increased since the start of the study period and that they
had no information on the use of mobile phones for longer
than 15 years. But he pointed out that radiation emissions
were, on average, lower from more modern handsets.
The report was criticised for failing to look at the risks
of using hands-free devices and keeping a phone close to the
body for long periods, such as in a pocket or by the bed at
night. However, Professor Patricia McKinney, from Leeds
University and another one of the participating scientists,
said radiation from a phone in a pocket or by the bed was
The study also failed to look separately at children despite
a recent Swedish study showing that children and teenagers
using mobile phones were at an increased risk of developing
a brain tumour.
However, Professor McKinney said it was wrong to 'jump on
the results of single studies', and that most of the
literature that have made claims about risks had not been
'Although [the study's findings are] inconclusive there is
still an important message that if there had been a larger
risk then this study would have found it,' concluded
Earlier this month, acknowledging the gap of evidence on
mobile phone use and children, a new five-year study
MobiKids was launched to investigate the risk of brain
tumours amongst young people.
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