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Studies Show Cell Phone Use Increases Brain Cancer Risk
A newly published review of the research on mobile phone radiation and brain tumor risk calls on governments " to protect public health from this widespread source of radiation."
The authors reported that …
• “There is a consistent pattern of increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma associated with use of wireless phones (mobile phones and cordless phones) mainly based on results from case-control studies from the Hardell group and Interphone Final Study results.” (1)
The meta-analysis found that the risk of glioma, a tumor which constitutes 80% of all malignant (i.e. cancerous) brain tumors, was 2.29 times greater on the side of the head where users held their phones among those who used mobile phones 1,640 or more hours in their lifetime (as compared to non-regular users). The corresponding risk for acoustic neuroma, a non-malignant tumor of the nerve that connects the ear to the brain, was similar—2.55 times greater. In contrast, the corresponding risk for meningioma, a tumor of the outer covering of the brain, was not significantly greater among regular cell phone users. (Over a ten year period, 1,640 hours would correspond to 27 minutes of cell phone use per day on average; however, many of those with brain tumors used their phones less than 10 years).
This review of the epidemiologic research is a follow up to a review sponsored by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2011. After careful study of hundreds of scientific articles, thirty experts from fourteen countries classified cell phone radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” The “Group 2B” classification was based largely on the Interphone Study which was conducted by investigators in thirteen countries, and the work of the Hardell research team.
In their review paper, Hardell and his colleagues argued that …
• “a causal association between use of mobile phone and glioma and acoustic neuroma comes from the meta-analyses as presented in this publication and also reviewed elsewhere. Supportive evidence comes also from anatomical localisation of the tumour to the most exposed area of the brain, cumulative exposure and latency time that all add to the biological relevance of an increased risk. In addition risk calculation based on estimated absorbed dose gives strength to the findings as well as the impact on survival of glioma patients relating to their use of mobile and cordless phones.”
The Hardell paper also critically reviewed several flawed studies that have been published since the IARC review including the Danish cohort study and the CEFALO study.
The Hardell peer-reviewed paper noted that there are 5.9 billion cell phone subscriptions worldwide, and that “Many users are children and adolescents, which is of special concern regarding potential health effects.”
They cited the recent Italian Supreme Court ruling (3) and noted that based on the epidemiologic evidence …
• “… RF-EMF should be classified as a human carcinogen. “The current safety limits and reference levels are not adequate to protect public health. New public health standards and limits are needed.”
In the United States, the General Accountability Office issued a report this summer that called on the Federal Communications Commission to review our outmoded cell phone safety standards and testing procedures (4).
Also this summer, “The Cell Phone Right to Know Act” was introduced in the Congress. This bill calls for: (a) a review of cell phone safety standards by the Environmental Protection Agency, (b) adoption of a national research program to study cell phones and their effects on users’ health, and (c) publication of cell phone warning labels to alert users about the risks from cell phone radiation (5).
Cell phone radiation safety measures are long overdue. We called for similar measures in an op-ed in 2010 (6) following the publication of our 2009 research review (7).
A dozen nations have issued precautionary warnings about cell phones. It is time for the U.S. to act to protect the health of our population, especially children, adolescents, and pregnant women.
(1) Hardell L, Carlberg M, Hansson Mild K. Use of mobile phones and cordless phones is associated with increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma. Pathophysiology. 2012 Dec 20. pii: S0928-4680(12)
(2) Dr. Hardell (lennart.hardell@
(3) Italian Supreme Court Rules Cell Phones Can Cause Cancer. URL: http://www.prlog.org/
(4) U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO). Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed. GAO-12-
(5) H.R. 6358 (112th): Cell Phone Right to Know Act. URL: http://www.govtrack.us/
(6) Moskowitz JM. Government must inform us of cell phone risk. San Francisco Chronicle. April 28, 2010. URL: http://www.sfgate.com/
(7) Myung SK, Ju W, McDonnell DD, Lee YJ, Kazinets G, Cheng CT, Moskowitz JM. Mobile phone use and risk of tumors: a meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2009. 27(33):5565-
Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Family and Community Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley
Page Updated Last on: Jan 29, 2013