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Case-control study of the association between malignant brain tumours diagnosed between 2007 and 2009 and mobile and cordless phone use.
Authors: Lennart Hardell, Michael Carlberg, Fredrik Söderqvist, Kjell Hansson Mild
Affiliations: Department of Oncology, University Hospital, SE-701 85 Örebro, Sweden, Department of Radiation Sciences, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden
Published online on: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Previous studies have shown a consistent association between long-term use of mobile and cordless phones and glioma and acoustic neuroma, but not for meningioma. When used these phones emit radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) and the brain is the main target organ for the handheld phone. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified in May, 2011 RF-EMF as a group 2B, i.e. a ‘possible’ human carcinogen. The aim of this study was to further explore the relationship between especially long-term (>10 years) use of wireless phones and the development of malignant brain tumours. We conducted a new case-control study of brain tumour cases of both genders aged 18-75 years and diagnosed during 2007-2009. One population-based control matched on gender and age (within 5 years) was used to each case. Here, we report on malignant cases including all available controls. Exposures on e.g. use of mobile phones and cordless phones were assessed by a self-administered questionnaire. Unconditional logistic regression analysis was performed, adjusting for age, gender, year of diagnosis and socio-economic index using the whole control sample. Of the cases with a malignant brain tumour, 87% (n=593) participated, and 85% (n=1,368) of controls in the whole study answered the questionnaire. The odds ratio (OR) for mobile phone use of the analogue type was 1.8, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.04‑3.3, increasing with >25 years of latency (time since first exposure) to an OR=3.3, 95% CI=1.6-6.9. Digital 2G mobile phone use rendered an OR=1.6, 95% CI=0.996-2.7, increasing with latency >15-20 years to an OR=2.1, 95% CI=1.2-3.6. The results for cordless phone use were OR=1.7, 95% CI=1.1-2.9, and, for latency of 15-20 years, the OR=2.1, 95% CI=1.2-3.8. Few participants had used a cordless phone for >20-25 years. Digital type of wireless phones (2G and 3G mobile phones, cordless phones) gave increased risk with latency >1-5 years, then a lower risk in the following latency groups, but again increasing risk with latency >15-20 years. Ipsilateral use resulted in a higher risk than contralateral mobile and cordless phone use. Higher ORs were calculated for tumours in the temporal and overlapping lobes. Using the meningioma cases in the same study as reference entity gave somewhat higher ORs indicating that the results were unlikely to be explained by recall or observational bias. This study confirmed previous results of an association between mobile and cordless phone use and malignant brain tumours. These findings provide support for the hypothesis that RF-EMFs play a role both in the initiation and promotion stages of carcinogenesis.
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