Recently media outlet CNN has aired a report citing results from the largest international study on cell phones claiming those who used a cell phone for 10 years or more had doubled the rate of brain glioma, a type of brain tumor.
As a physician who has read and reviewed the results of the study, I find this information to be inaccurate. This study, known as the INTERPHONE study, did not conclude that there is any increased risk for brain tumor development from cell phones. The highest decile (10 percent) of users had a slight increased risk but when they evaluated that data, they found that those participants’ recall of the number of hours spent on cell phones was impossible. The study overall did not show an increased risk.
I also noticed that MSNBC reported that this same study only evaluated with people who already had brain cancer. Again, having read the actual study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2010, I find this statement is also inaccurate. The study looked at 2,400 meningioma and 2,700 glioma patients along with 7,600 controls, or people without brain tumors.
The odds ratio for cell phone use and developing a meningioma was 0.79 and for developing a glioma was 0.81. If an odds ratio is below 1.0, then the factor studied cannot be determined to increase the risk to develop a disease. Only if the odds ratio is greater than 1.0 do we consider the factor studied as increasing the risk for a disease.
Maybe someday down the road a conclusive link will be made between the two, but the studies they are citing do not prove this link.
To recap, as of today, no new studies have been done and there is still no scientific evidence proving a link between cell phone usage and brain tumors. Maybe someday down the road a conclusive link will be made between the two, but the studies they are citing do not prove this link. I encourage anyone interested in the topic to read the studies thoroughly and speak with a professional with any questions regarding the research. Below are some links to related studies.
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Recent studies regarding cell phone use and cancer risk
Volkow et al. Effects of cell phone radiofrequency signal exposure on brain glucose metabolism. Journal of the American Medical Association 2011; 305(8):808-814
Myung et al. Mobile phone use and risk of tumors: a meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2009; 27:5565
Brain tumour risk in relation to mobile telephone use: results of the INTERPHONE international case-control study. International Journal of Epidemiology 2010;39:675