Epidemiologic Evidence on Mobile Phones and Tumor Risk A Review

Department of Epidemiology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) (Impact Factor: 6.2). 08/2009; 20(5):639-52. DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181b0927d
Source: PubMed


This review summarizes and interprets epidemiologic evidence bearing on a possible causal relation between radiofrequency field exposure from mobile phone use and tumor risk. In the last few years, epidemiologic evidence on mobile phone use and the risk of brain and other tumors of the head in adults has grown in volume, geographic diversity of study settings, and the amount of data on longer-term users. However, some key methodologic problems remain, particularly with regard to selective nonresponse and inaccuracy and bias in recall of phone use. Most studies of glioma show small increased or decreased risks among users, although a subset of studies show appreciably elevated risks. We considered methodologic features that might explain the deviant results, but found no clear explanation. Overall the studies published to date do not demonstrate an increased risk within approximately 10 years of use for any tumor of the brain or any other head tumor. Despite the methodologic shortcomings and the limited data on long latency and long-term use, the available data do not suggest a causal association between mobile phone use and fast-growing tumors such as malignant glioma in adults (at least for tumors with short induction periods). For slow-growing tumors such as meningioma and acoustic neuroma, as well as for glioma among long-term users, the absence of association reported thus far is less conclusive because the observation period has been too short.

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    • "From a communications standpoint, it is necessary to clearly and transparently inform about the pro and contra arguments for the classification based on the selected evidence. The other positive study [Hardell et al., 2009] was clearly demonstrated [Ahlbom et al., 2009] to be an outlier compared with the majority of other epidemiological studies. While IARC's definition of 2B was technically complied with, because two epidemiology studies showed positive results, there is considerable doubt about the interpretation of what is a positive effect. "
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    • "The case–control design is widely accepted as one of the most useful methods to analyze the relationship between mobile phone use and vestibular schwannoma. However, these studies are known to be vulnerable to selection and recall biases [5, 19]. The case–case study design is also vulnerable to selection and recall biases, but the situation is less complicated than in case–control studies [20]. "
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