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Dr. Lennart Hardell and his colleagues in Sweden just published the third in a series of papers on the use of wireless phones, including cell phones and cordless phones, and the risk of malignant and non-malignant brain tumors. The latest paper describes a new case-control study that examines the association between mobile phone use and brain cancer risk. In these studies, the cases were diagnosed with brain tumors between 2007 and 2009.
The study updates earlier research from case-control studies conducted by the Hardell group and extends the prior research by examining the effects of wireless phone use, i.e., cell phone and cordless phone use, on brain tumor risk for people who have used these phones for up to 25 or more years.
Overall, the research found that people who used wireless phones for more than a year were at 70% greater risk of brain cancer as compared to those who used wireless phones for a year or less. Those who used wireless phones for more than 25 years were at greatest risk—300% greater risk of brain cancer than those who used wireless phones for a year or less.
The total number of hours of wireless phone use was as important as the number of years of use. A fourth of the sample used wireless phones for 2,376 or more hours in their lifetime which corresponds to about 40 minutes a day over ten years. These heavier users had 250% greater risk of brain tumors as compared to those who never used wireless phones or used them for less than 39 hours in their lifetime.
A similar analysis reported in the 13-nation Interphone study funded partly by the World Health Organization found a 180% greater risk of brain cancer among those who used cell phones for 1,640 or more hours in their lifetime.
In the current study, for all types of wireless phone use, brain cancer risk was found to be greater in the part of the brain where the exposure to wireless phone radiation was highest—in the temporal or overlapping lobes of the brain on the side of the head were people predominantly used their phones.
Given the consistent results from multiple case-control studies that long-term use of mobile phones (i.e., ten or more years) is associated with brain cancer especially near where the phone is predominantly used, the International Agency for Research on Cancer should strengthen its 2011 assessment of radiofrequency energy from “possibly carcinogenic” to “probably carcinogenic” to humans.
More importantly, governments around the world should heed the results of these studies. The public must be educated about the need to take simple precautions whenever using wireless devices. Governments must strengthen regulatory standards for wireless radiation and must fund research independent of industry to develop safer technologies.
The paper was published online in the peer-reviewed journal, International Journal of Oncology. The abstract and a link to the paper can be found on my Electromagnetic Radiation Safety web site at http://www.saferemr.com/2013/09/brain-cancer-risk-increas…. In addition, the abstracts for the Hardell group’s two prior papers are available there. All three papers are open access.
Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley