Cell Phones Don't Cause Brain Tumors

Latest study contradicts earlier research, which had suggested a link

THURSDAY, Jan. 19, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Use your cell phone all you want without fear because it won't cause glioma, the most common type of brain tumor, British researchers report.

Although earlier studies had linked cell phone use with an increased risk of brain tumors, this new report and other research have found no connection.

The four-year study found that people who regularly use cell phones don't increase their risk of developing this type of tumor.

Researchers from the Universities of Leeds, Nottingham and Manchester and the Institute of Cancer Research in London report their finding in the Jan. 21 issue of the British Medical Journal.

In their study, the researchers collected data on cell phone use by 966 people aged 18 to 69 years who had been diagnosed with a glioma, and 1,716 healthy individuals.

Use of cell phones had no relationship for risk of glioma, regardless of the length of use or the geographical area where phones were used, according to lead researcher Patricia McKinney, a professor of pediatric epidemiology at the University of Leeds' Institute of Genetics, Health, and Therapeutics.

There was a significantly increased risk for tumors that developed on the same side of the head as the phone was used, the researchers found. But this was offset by a decrease in the risk on the opposite side of the head.

This disparity was probably due to people's faulty memory, the researchers suggested. People who have gliomas tend to link cell phone use to the side of the head where the tumor was found. This resulted in "over reporting" of use of a phone on the same side as the tumor, which resulted in "under reporting" phone use on the opposite side of the head, the researchers wrote.

"Use of a mobile phone, either in the short or medium term, is not associated with an increased risk of glioma," the researchers noted. "This is consistent with most but not all published studies."

One expert thinks these findings are convincing evidence for the lack of any association between cell phone use and brain tumors.

"Gliomas are the most common and most deadly primary brain tumors, as opposed to metastatic brain tumors," said Dr. John S. Yu, co-director of the Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program at the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles. "This study of glioma patients and control patients found no correlation between cell phone usage time or overall years of use with the incidence of gliomas."

As to why patients associated their tumor with cell phone use, Yu said this may be due to believing that cell phone use was responsible for the tumor. "This suggested a memory bias to attribute the tumor occurrence to the side of cell phone use," he said.

"This study is relatively definitive," Yu added. "So the fears that were brought up by other studies are, to some degree, put to rest by this study. Therefore, use your free minutes."

More information

The National Library of Medicine can tell you more about brain tumors.

SOURCES: John S. Yu, M.D., co-director, Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program, Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; Jan. 21, 2006, British Medical Journal online
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