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Cell phone use raises brain tumour risk

Using a cell phone for more than a decade can double the risk of some brain tumours.

Cell phone use raises brain tumour risk

Using a cell phone for more than a decade can double the risk of some brain tumours. Concerns have been raised that mobile phones could raise brain tumour risk by exposing the brain to electromagnetic energy, but previous studies did not have a long enough follow-up time to fully account for long-term risk. Researchers from the University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden identified 18 studies of brain tumour risk among long-term cell phone users, 11 of which provided data for 10 years or longer. When the findings were analysed collectively, it was found that people who used cell phones for at least a decade had more than two-fold greater risk of acoustic neuromas and were twice as likely to develop gliomas. Acoustic neuromas are benign growths on the nerve linking the ear to the brain, while gliomas are malignant, difficult-to-treat tumours of the brain and nervous system. However, one study found no increased tumour risk with cell phone use, but it did show that mobile phone users who developed brain tumours had larger tumours than those who did not use cell phones. The findings showed a consistent pattern of increased risk for acoustic neuroma and glioma with the greatest risk seen on the side of the head where the mobile phone was held, i.e. the area with maximum exposure. These results are certainly of biological relevance as the study periods allowed enough time for tumours to develop. Also, longer follow-up is required to find out if there is an increased risk for other types of brain tumours.
Occupational Environmental Medicine,
September 2007
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