Mobile Phones and Cancer

Mobile phones and healthThe UK Times paper reported on Saturday that a leading cancer researcher Professor Lawrie Challis chairman of the government-funded mobile telecommunications health research programme believes it is time that a large-scale study into the long-term risks associated with cellphone use.

Intriguingly, health and medicine writer Caroline Richmond pointed out that just such a study was actually published just three days prior to The Times article appearing.

The abstract for this paper by STUK, Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Helsinki, Finland says:

“We conducted a population-based case-control study to investigate the relationship between mobile phone use and risk of glioma among 1,522 glioma patients and 3,301 controls. We found no evidence of increased risk of glioma related to regular mobile phone use (odds ratio, OR = 0.78, 95% confidence interval, CI: 0.68, 0.91).” The study encompasses digital and analog mobile phone use lasting ten years.

More than 200,000 volunteers and £3 million ($6m) of government and phone industry money will be needed to assess long-term risks of five years or so for cancer and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Challis is currently negotiating for the necessary funding.

It is odd that this news story broke so close to the publication online in International Journal of Cancer. It also makes one wonder why there seems to be such a continued “hope” among certain segments of the media to find a correlation between mobile phone use and brain cancer. Surely, there isn’t an expectation that if such a correlation were ever demonstrated that the industry would cough up compensation to the literally millions upon millions of regular, long-term mobile phone users. Moreover, if such a demonstration were published might not a similar investigation raise concerns about other electromagnetic radiation sources again, such as powerlines, computer screens, microwave ovens and most recently wireless internet connections?

What do Sciencebase readers think? Would this be £3m well spent, or shouldn’t The Times simply publish a front page story about the STUK study, so similar to the one that Challis is after, that has already been carried out, peer reviewed and published.

3 thoughts on “Mobile Phones and Cancer”

  1. If mobile phones cause brain cancer (as distinct from brain rot in journalists) then the incidence of brain cancer will be higher than otherwise expected in all countries where mobile phone use is common – and it is commonest in Finland, home of Nokia and home of this study.
    You’d have to discover the annual incidence of brain cancers over several years, before and after the introduction of mobiles. The pre-mobiles incidence will show what is called the secular trend. If this alters noticeably after the introductions of mobiles – even several years later – it should show on the graph.

    I have yet to hear of brain surgeons complaining about their increased workload and wondering what is the cause.

  2. This is imperative… there are many studies out there that point to problems, but that information is being supressed by the industry. Beware of any studies that claim that there are no risks; most of them are funded and conrolled by the industry. The recent study from the Danish Cancer Registry is a good example. It’s nothing short of fraudulent.

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