Can You Fear Me Now? Cell Phone Use Not Linked to Brain Cancer

By Brett Israel | December 4, 2009 11:58 pm

cell-phone-webOne of the persistent fears of our modern era is that cell phone radiation may cause brain tumors. But here’s some good news: A team of researchers in northern Europe, however, has now combed through three decades of cancer registries and found no increase in the rate of brain tumors in the five to 10 years following widespread cell phone adoption in that region [Scientific American]. The researchers, from the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen, studied 20 to 79 year old men and women from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, and paid special attention to cancer rates during the cell phone boom of the mid-1990s. The researchers published their analysis in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Overall the study found that cancer rates were unchanged from the period before mobile phones were widely used. The study was based on 59,684 brain tumour cases diagnosed over 30 years from 1974 to 2003 among 16 million adults. During this time, the incidence rate of cancers known as gliomas increased gradually by 0.5% per year among men and by 0.2% per year among women. For cancers known as meningioma, the incidence rate increased by 0.8% among men and, after the early 1990’s, by 3.8% among women [BBC News]. The researchers say the larger meningioma increase in women is due to the greater age of the women in this group.

Despite finding no increased risk for 10 years of cell phone use in Nordic countries, researchers say the cell phone-cancer issue is far from settled. A lack of correlation in these countries or elsewhere … doesn’t clear the air of doubt—even in the researchers’ minds. “The scientific literature is unsettled right now about the association between mobile phones and brain tumors,” [Scientific American] says Isabelle Deltour, the study’s lead author. Deltour says much of the uncertainty is due to the lack of a general understanding about brain tumors and the fact that some tumors take longer than 10 years to develop. However, the work will add to a growing body of knowledge as researchers continue to investigate any potential link between cell phones and cancer. A long-term international analysis known as INTERPHONE is due out soon and will add even more data to the investigation.

Related Content:
AT&T and Verizon Wireless Take Their Cat Fight to Court
Cancer Doctor Issues a Warning About Cell Phones, and Causes Panic
Microscope-Cell Phone Combo Could Spot Disease in Developing World

Image: flickr / JoshuaDavisPhotography.COM

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Technology
MORE ABOUT: cancer, cell phones
  • Tom

    There should be ZERO doubt. This issue was settled by Einstein nearly 100 years ago. He won the Nobel Prize in physics for his research on the photo-electric effect. Questioning whether cell phones cause brain cancer is akin to admitting no understanding of why it’s the ultraviolet rays of sunlight that cause cancer, rather than red light. Photons from ultraviolet, xray, and gamma ray sources have frequencies that are many orders of magnitude higher than those from cell phones. And, as Einstein clearly showed, it’s not a matter of intensity or duration; these matter not – it the electromagnetic frequency that is important.

  • Jake

    thank you, tom. it is about time people would stop freaking out over this.

  • goulet

    yes, I don’t really understand how anyone in the scientific community can be “unsettled” or still wondering about cell phones and brain tumors. Cell phone radiation can’t do squat.

  • Mr. Johnson

    What about cell phone’s effects on male sterility? I read that if you keep your cell phone in your front pocket next to you ‘boys’ you could diminish their sperm count. I don’t want kids, so I keep three phones in my underpants.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.

See More

Collapse bottom bar