The INTERPHONE study, the largest study ever undertaken to examine the possible links of cell phones to brain tumors, released its findings on May 17, 2010. The $25 million, 10-year long study of cell phone users in 13 countries, was coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) under the direction of the 21 member Interphone International Study Group.  The study concluded:

"Overall, no increase in risk of either glioma or meningioma [both are cancers] was observed in association with use of mobile phones. There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma, and much less so meningioma, at the highest exposure levels, for ipsilateral exposures and, for glioma, for tumours in the temporal lobe. However, biases and errors limit the strength of the conclusions we can draw from these analyses and prevent a causal interpretation."

The results of the INTERPHONE study were published on May 17, 2010 under the title "Brain Tumor Risk in Relation to Mobile Telephone Use: Results of the INTERPHONE International Case-Control Study" (3 KB)  , in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Additional information on the INTERPHONE study can be found in the International Agency for Research on Cancer's May 17, 2010 press release "Interphone Study Reports on Mobile Phone Use and Brain Cancer Risk" (3 KB) .


Does the INTERPHONE study show that cell phones are safe?
PRO CON

The US Food and Drug Administration stated the following in its May 17, 2010 article "No Evidence Linking Cell Phone Use to Risk of Brain Tumors," available at www.fda.gov:

"Do the radio waves that cell phones emit pose a threat to health?

Although research is ongoing, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that available scientific evidence - including World Health Organization (WHO) findings released May 17, 2010 - shows no increased health risk due to radiofrequency (RF) energy, a form of electromagnetic radiation that is emitted by cell phones...

The findings released in May 2010 are from Interphone, a series of studies initiated in 2000 and conducted in 13 countries (the United States was not one of them). Interphone was coordinated by WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The study reported little or no risk of brain tumors for most long-term users of cell phones...

The recent Interphone findings, which are being posted online in the June 2010 International Journal of Epidemiology, did not show an increased risk of brain cancer from using cell phones."

May 17, 2010 - US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Rodolfo Saracci, MD, PhD, et al., stated the following in their May 17, 2010 article "Commentary: Call Me on My Mobile Phone...or Better Not? - A Look at the INTERPHONE Study Results," published in the International Journal of Epidemiology:

"None of today’s established carcinogens, including tobacco, could have been firmly identified as increasing risk in the first 10 years or so since first exposure... INTERPHONE shares with all studies previously carried out on mobile phones and cancer the inherent limitation that it can investigate only a short period of observation since first exposure... Hence observing no increase in risk would be reassuring but only to a limited extent...

For the time being, INTERPHONE’s findings, interpreted in the context of prior studies, tells us that the question as to whether mobile phone use increases risk for brain cancers remains open... Some may interpret the results differently and most who have been awaiting the results of the INTERPHONE study will be disappointed by its mixed findings. Those upholding a precautionary approach to the extent and manner of use of mobile phones may find some support in the elevated risks noted in subjects with the highest exposures.

Not surprisingly, we end by calling for more research, given the increasingly ubiquitous use of mobile phones, rising use by children and the indication from some studies, including the INTERPHONE study, that mobile phone use may increase risk for brain tumours."

May 17, 2010 - Rodolfo Saracci, MD, PhD

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