NEW DATA ON THE POSSIBLE LINK BETWEEN MOBILE PHONE RADIATIONS AND TUMOUR RISK

The first results of a long-awaited and very important study, carried out by the US National Toxicology Programme (NTP) have just been made available, and the National Institutes for Health are planning to hold a briefing on the results.

An important study found an increased risk of glioma and of schwannoma of the heart in relation to exposure to mobile phone radio frequencies

The results are being released earlier than foreseen because the findings of even a small increased risk of tumors resulting from mobile phone radio frequencies could have important public health consequences because of the widespread use of mobile communication technologies around the world.

It found an increased risk of glioma (one of the main types of brain cancer in adults) and of schwannoma of the heart (schwannoma are tumors of nerve sheaths) in relation to exposure to mobile phone radio frequencies. The study has been very carefully designed to evaluate potential health effects of mobile phone radiofrequency (RF).

These results are particularly interesting in the light of the results of the INTERPHONE international study, which I had the opportunity to coordinate

These results are particularly interesting in the light of the results of the INTERPHONE international study (1–4), which I had the opportunity to coordinate. The study included over 2,700 cases of glioma and 1,100 cases of schwannoma of the acoustic nerve and found evidence of an association between mobile phone use (as well as the level of radiofrequency exposure) and increased risk of developing both types of tumors. The results of INTERPHONE were an important basis for the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluation that radiofrequency radiations from hand-held telephones were possibly carcinogenic (2B).

Numbers of cases of tumors were relatively low in the recently published study, and the findings are reported as showing “low incidence” of glioma and schwannoma of the heart. There were, however, only 90 rats in each of the exposure groups in males and the same number of females, because of the enormous costs of these very controlled experiments. As brain tumours and schwannomas are rare tumours both in humans and in animals (the age-standardised incidence of brain tumours in Europe is of the order of 4-10 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year), and because there are billions of mobile phone users in the world, these findings are very important  to help assess the potential health effects of the use of mobile communication technologies.

CREAL, an ISGlobal allied center, continues to study the effects of this important source of exposure to the public in two large-scale European projects in humans and animals: Mobi-Kids and GERoNiMO.

References

1. INTERPHONE Study Group, Brain tumor risk in relation to mobile telephone use: results of the INTERPHONE international case-control study. Int. J. Epidemiol. 39, 675–694 (2010)

2. INTERPHONE Study Group, Supplementary Material – Brain tumor risk in relation to mobile telephone use: results of the INTERPHONE international case-control study. Int. J. Epidemiol. 39 (2010), doi:10.1093/ije/dyq079

3. INTERPHONE Study Group, Acoustic neuroma risk in relation to mobile telephone use: results of the INTERPHONE international case-control study. Cancer Epidemiol. 35, 453–464 (2011)

4. E. Cardis et al., Risk of brain tumors in relation to estimated RF dose from mobile phones: results from five Interphone countries. Occup. Environ. Med. 68, 631–640 (2011)