Mobile phone cancer link unclear, study

The largest study to date on the safety of mobile phones has found no clear link to brain cancer, but researchers say further research is needed given the increasingly intensive use of the technology.

The study, by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), appears this week in International Journal of Epidemiology.

"The results really don't allow us to conclude that there is any risk associated with mobile phone use, but... it is also premature to say that there is no risk associated with it," says IARC's director Dr Christopher Wild.

The study looked at almost 13,000 mobile phone users, including 2,708 people with glioma tumours and 2,409 people with meningioma tumours in 13 countries.

It found no increased risk of glioma or meningioma tumours after 10 years of using a mobile phone, although it found "suggestions of higher risk" for the heaviest users.

The heaviest users who reported using their phones on the same side of their heads had a 40% higher risk for gliomas and 15% for meningiomas, but the researchers said "biases and errors" prevent making a causal link.

Given that the heaviest users in the study talked an average of half an hour per day on their mobile phones, a figure which is not heavy by today's standards, the researchers recommend further research.

The research, involved 21 scientists from the Interphone International Study Group, which received 19.2 million euros (A$27 million) in funding, around 5.5 million euros (A$7.7) of which came from industry sources.


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