Subjects: Public health
In the 15 years since cell phones first appeared on the scene, they have spread with astonishing speed and revolutionized communications on a global scale. But right around the time the Motorola Flip-phone was the rage, reports surfaced that cell phone use might be associated with brain cancer.
Since then, the majority of research on the subject has refuted this claim, as has the most recent publication on the matter by Isabelle Deltour of the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen, and her colleagues.
Deltour’s group looked at registry data from 4 Scandinavian countries between 1974 an 2003, a period encompassing the birth and growth of the technology.
They found that the incidence of the 2 major forms of brain cancer either remained stable, decreased, or continued the same slow rise that had been observed in the pre-cell phone era.
These findings are “consistent with mobile phone use having no observable effect on brain tumor incidence in this period,” they wrote in the Dec. 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The registry contained 59,984 glioma and meningioma cases had been diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 79 during the study period.
The incidence of glioma increased in men by 0.5% annually and in women by 0.2% annually during the study.
The incidence of meningioma increased 0.8% per year in men, on average. In women, the incidence of meningioma rose by 2.9% per year from 1974 to 1987 (when cell phones began hitting the market), then dropped by 2.1% per year between 1987 and 1991, and then began rising again at a rate of 3.8%.
Most of that recent increase in meningioma incidence occurred in women who were at least 60 years old when they were diagnosed–an age group not likely to have been heavy cell-phone users back then.
The scientists could not exclude the possibility that very heavy cell-phone use could pose risks, or that a positive association may be present for very rare brain tumors.