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Mobiles 'don't increase brain tumour risk'

TT/Vivian Tse · 17 May 2010, 18:08

Published: 17 May 2010 18:08 GMT+02:00

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The Interphone study is the largest-ever international research conducted on a possible link between brain cancer and other tumors in the head and mobile use.

A total of 2,708 people with glioma-type brain tumours and 2,409 people with meningioma-type brain tumours in the study were compared with normal subjects. Overall, the study showed no increased risk of brain tumours among those who regularly used mobiles for 10 years.

"Had there been a greater risk after more than 10 years of mobile phone usage, we should have seen it in Interphone," Maria Feychting, professor of epidemiology at the Karolinska Institutet and head of the Swedish portion of the Interphone study, said in a statement "The results are consistent with available experimental research that has failed to demonstrate any carcinogenic effect from the type of radiation cell phones emit. They also correspond with previous epidemiological research."

She added, "Uncertainties about the maximum exposure levels must be investigated in further research, although they speak for weaknesses in the study rather than an actual increase in risk."

The study was coordinated by the World Health Organisation's cancer research agency International Agency for Research on Cancer and conducted by 16 research centres in 13 countries, including the Karolinska Institutet. The findings will be published in the scientific journal International Journal of Epidemiology on Tuesday. Subsequent results are also expected on salivary gland and auditory nerve tumours.

To date, the overall funding assigned to the Interphone study amounts to about €19.2 million ($24.38 million). Of this amount, €5.5 million were contributed by industry sources, of which €3.5 million were contributed by the Mobile Manufacturers' Forum and the GSM Association, each contributing half of that amount through a firewall mechanism provided by the International Union Against Cancer to guarantee the independence of the scientists.

Story continues below…

Most of the rest of the €5.5 million came indirectly to individual centres from mobile phone operators and manufacturers through taxes and fees collected by government agencies. Only €500,000 (2.5%) of the overall study costs were provided directly by the industry, in Canada and France, under contracts which preserved the independence of the study.

Other funding was provided by the European Commission (€3.74 million) and national and local funding sources (€9.9 million in total) in participating countries. Additional funding for the extension of the research to younger and older age groups was received directly from mobile phone operators in the UK under contracts which preserved the independence of the study.

TT/Vivian Tse (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:30 May 17, 2010 by byke
How do they explain the ringing in the ears?
21:21 May 17, 2010 by Soft Boiled
The BBC Website quoted (but has now been removed) that, and i quote from their previous article:" The 10-year study of 13,000 people has been criticised because mobile phone companies provided 25% of the funding."

IF this is true then I would be very interested in a study from an independant source which hasnt been funded by a vested interested.
23:08 May 17, 2010 by krrodman
While it seems that answering a simple question like: "Do cell phones cause brain cancer?" should be easy, it is, in fact, an extraordinarily difficult question to answer.

The incidence of brain cancer in the USA is approximately 6 cancers per 100,000 people. Let's say, hypothetically, cell phones increase the incidence of brain cancer by 50%. That would be a HUGE increase in cancer rates, and the overall rate of brain cancer would increase from 6/100,000 to 9/100,000. Needless to say, a big jump in cancer rates, but still an extraordinarily small number of people develop cancer.

What is the point of all of this? In order to determine whether or not cell phones cause cancer with scientific certainty would require epidemiologists to study millions of people over many years. And, in order to do the study with scientific certainty, there would have to be a large group of people in the study who never used cell phones so there would be a control group. Obviously, this kind of study is impossible to do.

As an alternative, scientists look at people who developed brain cancer and compare them to a similar group of people who did not develop brain cancer. The scientific assumption is simply this: if a person who develops brain cancer does not use a cell phone more than a similar person who does not develop brain cancer, than the cell phones cannot be blamed for the cancer.

Is it a valid approach? Not perfect, but the best possible approach under the circumstances.
01:52 May 18, 2010 by glamshek
It could be easily argued that since the study has been funded mostly by Mobile Phone industry, the results are biased.
04:11 May 18, 2010 by flyingcarpetblues
In reality, most/all studies funded by the wireless industry found no risk. The vast majority of studies which had independent research funding, concluded that cell phone radiation is associated with serious and severe health effects. It is not by mere chance that most countries worldwide are taking steps to prevent children under 16 from using cell phones, since it is already widely known from peer-reviewed studies that cell phone radiation affects children more severely than adults, and children absorb more of the emitted radiation. The Interphone study received a vast amount of funding from the wireless industry, including (but not only) mobile phone licensing fees. One has to seriously consider whether a study that is heavily funded by the wireless industry would be able to reveal any harmful effects of the wireless devices. We need independent studies, which are able to objectively address and examine science, not propaganda studies that are heavily biased due to competing financial interests. The Interphone study has several major design flaws, one of which is the fact that it did not even examine exposure in children, who are one of the most sensitive segments of the population. As it stands now, many independent peer reviewed studies reveal serious adverse effects from radiofrequency exposure, and the press should cover this aspect too, because it is the scientific truth - even though, for many, the inconvenient one.
05:05 May 18, 2010 by crofab
The results are indeed a bit biased, but still very promising.
08:34 May 18, 2010 by DamnImmigrant
This is old news because a few months ago the combined Swedish, Finish?, and Danish? medical study based on the EXTENSIVE medical records of all 3 countries could find no link with cancer.

I agree that biased reporting is suspect but I really do not think the medical establishments of these 3 countries can be bought.
09:48 May 18, 2010 by Kronaboy
Yeah and KFC doesn't give you tits, or was that Evo Morales?
12:08 May 18, 2010 by true
Even though mobile phone use doesn't cause brain cancer, I think it is still not good to use it for longer time, somehow it will damage brain, especially for children when their brain are not completely developed yet.
12:21 May 18, 2010 by krrodman
Let us be clear about something - every scientist is biased in one way or another. The cell phone industry has its bias. News flash to all of you - the government is not a neutral party. It is biased as well.

Every scientist recognizes this. The scientific community goes to extraordinary lengths to design study that eliminate bias. Double blind studies - crossover studies etc etc. It costs over 400 million US to get a drug approved because the study process is so extensive and difficult. Was this study designed NOT to find cancer because it was funded by the industry? I am not sophisticated enough to know one way or the other. I do know just how difficult the entire process is.

Epidemiologic studies are the most difficult of all to perform because there are so many uncontrolled variables. Did I get my brain cancer because of my cell phone or because of the polluted ground water? Maybe I got my brain tumor because I spent more time in the mountains where I am exposed to more radiation? Or because my mother smoked cigarettes when she was pregnant? How is it possible to control all of these variables and match groups? This study is no different. Not perfect. Not the last word. But a solid step.
08:17 May 19, 2010 by DamnImmigrant
After all this time of the world using CELLULAR telephones (Cell Phones) IF they DEFINITELY caused cancer, it WOULD be showing up in the data.

ALTHOUGH - I like the data problem with the different frequencies used in different places; the amount of power produced by the different models; power required to transmit depending on location and the fact that it was an ANALOG signal for many of those years and now it is digital.

I like the idea of restricting young peoples usage because of the developing brain BUT ---

Has anyone actually seen a kid actually talking on a Cell? It seems to be all about the texting.

My daughter saw a Cell with VERY large keypad and she said it was for children. I told her that it was more likely for people with dexterity and vision problems such as older people - her fingers then started flying over the keyboard and she ABSOLUTELY FREAKED OUT because it was SO easy to type on the keyboard - she went from "it's for children" to wanting to buy it on the spot!
10:24 May 19, 2010 by kc23

Have you seen the BioInitiative Report? It goes into quite a lot of detail regarding the problem and the consensus is the the current standards are inadequate to protect public health.

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