Objectives The objective of this study was to examine the associations of brain tumours with radio frequency (RF) fields from mobile phones.
Methods Patients with brain tumour from the Australian, Canadian, French, Israeli and New Zealand components of the Interphone Study, whose tumours were localised by neuroradiologists, were analysed. Controls were matched on age, sex and region and allocated the ‘tumour location’ of their matched case. Analyses included 553 glioma and 676 meningioma cases and 1762 and 1911 controls, respectively. RF dose was estimated as total cumulative specific energy (TCSE; J/kg) absorbed at the tumour's estimated centre taking into account multiple RF exposure determinants.
Results ORs with ever having been a regular mobile phone user were 0.93 (95% CI 0.73 to 1.18) for glioma and 0.80 (95% CI 0.66 to 0.96) for meningioma. ORs for glioma were below 1 in the first four quintiles of TCSE but above 1 in the highest quintile, 1.35 (95% CI 0.96 to 1.90). The OR increased with increasing TCSE 7+ years before diagnosis (p-trend 0.01; OR 1.91, 95% CI 1.05 to 3.47 in the highest quintile). A complementary analysis in which 44 glioma and 135 meningioma cases in the most exposed area of the brain were compared with gliomas and meningiomas located elsewhere in the brain showed increased ORs for tumours in the most exposed part of the brain in those with 10+ years of mobile phone use (OR 2.80, 95% CI 1.13 to 6.94 for glioma). Patterns for meningioma were similar, but ORs were lower, many below 1.0.
Conclusions There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma in long-term mobile phone users with high RF exposure and of similar, but apparently much smaller, increases in meningioma risk. The uncertainty of these results requires that they be replicated before a causal interpretation can be made.
- Mobile phones
- RF exposure assessment
- epidemiological study
- electromagnetic fields
- non-ionising radiation
- ionising radiation
- hygiene/occupational hygiene
- risk assessment
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Funding Funding for the Interphone Study was provided by the European Fifth Framework Program, ‘Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources’ (contract QLK4-CT-1999901563), the International Union against Cancer (UICC). The UICC received funds for this purpose from the Mobile Manufacturers' Forum and GSM Association. Provision of funds to the Interphone Study investigators via the UICC was governed by agreements that guaranteed Interphone's complete scientific independence. The terms of these agreements are publicly available at http://www.iarc.fr/en/research-groups/RAD/RCAd.html. Specific additional funds were provided for the development and analysis of the radio frequency exposure gradient and by the Fondation Santé et Radiofréquences, France and the Bundesamt fuer Strahlenschutz, Germany. The Australian centre was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (EME grant 219129); BKA was supported by the University of Sydney Medical Foundation Program Grant and Julianne Brown by an Australian Postgraduate Award. The Cancer Council NSW and the Cancer Council Victoria provided most of the infrastructure for the project in Australia. The Canada-Montréal data collection was funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (project MOP-42525). Additionally, Dr Siemiatycki's research team was partly funded by the Canada Research Chair programme and by the Guzzo-CRS Chair in Environment and Cancer. Dr. Parent had salary support from the Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec. The other Canadian centres were supported by a university–industry partnership grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the latter including partial support from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. The CIHR university–industry partnerships program also includes provisions that ensure complete scientific independence of the investigators. DK is the NSERC/SSHRC/McLaughlin Chair in Population Health Risk Assessment at the University of Ottawa. Additional funding for the study in France was provided by l'Association pour la Recherche sur le Cancer (ARC) (contract 5142) and three network operators (Orange, SFR, Bouygues Télécom). The funds provided by the operators represented 5% of the total cost of the French study and were governed by contracts guaranteeing the complete scientific independence of the investigators. In New Zealand, funding was provided by the Health Research Council, Hawkes Bay Medical Research Foundation and the Cancer Society of New Zealand. The findings and conclusions in this paper have not been formally disseminated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy.
Competing interests BKA's travel expenses to give two invited lecture were paid by the Australian Centre for Radio frequency Bioeffects Research, which identifies Telstra Australia as a participating institution.
Patient consent Consent was obtained from patient or next of kin if patient was too ill or deceased and next of kin responded as a proxy.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the ethical committee of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and appropriate local and national Institutional Review Boards (IRBs).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.