Frequent mobile phone users are at higher risk for certain brain cancers, says French study

Tools

Frequent mobile phone users are at a higher risk of developing certain types of brain cancer, according to a multi-year study by French scientists published in the British journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Based on a study carried from 2004 to 2006 in four areas of France, the group of 11 scientists concluded that there was a "positive association" between heavy mobile phone use and glioma and meningioma brain tumors.

Heavy use was defined as using the mobile phone for more than 15 hours per month over a five-year period. People who were frequent users had between two and three times greater risk of developing these cancers compared with people who rarely used their phones, according to a report about the study in The Guardian newspaper.

Surprisingly, the study found that the cancer occurred on the opposite side of the brain from where the cell phone was normally used. "It is difficult to define a level of risk, if any, especially as mobile phone technology is constantly evolving," the newspaper quotes the study as saying.

The study revives a long-running debate about whether cellphone use increases the risk of brain cancer--a debate that dates from the early days of cellphone use. More recently, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, also known as IARC, said in 2011 that radiofrequency fields used by cellphones might be linked to glioma (.pdf).

"Given the potential consequences for public health of this classification and findings it is important that additional research be conducted into the long term, heavy use of mobile phones. Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands‐free devices or texting," observes IARC Director Christopher Wild.

However, an international study called Interphone published in 2010 found no increased risk for glioma and meningioma from heavy cellphone use, according to the National Cancer Institute. The study examined 5,000 brain tumor patients and health controls in 13 countries.

For more:
- see the French study's abstract
- read The Guardian report
- check out the IARC release (.pdf)
- see NCI's Interphone study summary

Related Articles:
U.S. Congress debates the risk of developing cancer from mobile phones
WHO: Cell phones may increase cancer risk