INTERPHONE finds no increased risk of brain cancer from mobiles

17 May 2010

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) welcomes the release of the INTERPHONE study, which finds no increased risk of brain cancer from mobile phone use.

AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus said: “INTERPHONE’s overall finding is in line with the weight of scientific opinion, which has found no substantiated scientific evidence of any adverse health effects.

“Over the past 20 years, more than 30 authoritative expert scientific reviews have evaluated the evidence of the potential health and biological effects of radiofrequency fields and have consistently concluded that there are no established health risks.”

INTERPHONE, a 13-nation study, is the biggest study undertaken of its kind into potential health impacts of mobile phones. It was co-ordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), and adds to the large body of existing research into health effects of radiofrequency emissions.

INTERPHONE has found no increased risk of brain cancer with mobile phone use: The researchers conclude:

“Overall, no increase in risk of glioma or meningioma was observed with use of mobile phones. There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma at the highest possible exposure levels, but biases and error prevent a causal interpretation. The possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones require further investigation.”

Dr Christopher Wild, Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in announcing the INTERPHONE results said:

“An increased risk of brain cancer is not established from the data from interphone. However, observations at the highest level of cumulative mobile phone use since the period studied by interphone, particularly in young people, mean that further investigation of mobile phone use and brain cancer risk is merited.”

AMTA takes all aspects of mobile phone safety seriously and supports ongoing scientific research, such as the COSMOS study that plans to follow the health of 250,000 European mobile phone users for 20-30 years. An international study, MobiKids, in which Australian researchers are involved, is studying mobile phone use among young people.

Mr Althaus said researchers had looked at cancer incidence data over the past three decades and there had been no rise in the incidence rates despite the huge uptake of mobile phone use

“We would expect to see evidence of increases in brain cancer if there were an issue with mobiles. There is no such evidence and people can have confidence about safety of longer-term mobile use,” he said.

Specifically on mobile phones and overall cancer risk, IARC stated in the 2008 World Cancer Report:

"With reference to radio frequency, available data do not show any excess risk of brain cancer and other neoplasms associated with the use of mobile phones"(IARC World Cancer Report December 2008 P461)

In reviewing the overall cancer incidence rates the World Cancer Report also states: “After 1983 and more recently during the period of increasing prevalence of mobile phone users, the incidence has remained relatively stable for both men and women. 

Similar results were reported in a 2009 Nordic study where brain tumour incident rates between 1974 and 2003 were analysed in a population of 16 million adults. Again no increased incident trend was observed.

In 2009, the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which advises the WHO on EMF safety, reviewed the available evidence including brain tumour studies and reaffirmed the existing EMF safety guidelines, which are protective of all people.

Also, the most recent independent review that specifically looked at children, conducted in 2009 by seven internationally recognised experts, including one from Australia, found:

‘…Overall, the review of the existing scientific literature does not support the assumption that children’s health is affected by RF EMF exposure from mobile phones or base stations.’ (Reference Children’s Health and RF EMF Exposure – JULICH September 2009) 

AMTA supports the WHO’s practical steps for people to reduce their exposure if they are concerned:

Use a hands-free kit or loudspeaker so the mobile is away from the head and body

  • Use text messages when practical
  • Limit the length or number of calls
  • All mobile phones sold in Australia must comply with the national and international safety standards.

For more information:

Randal Markey, AMTA Communications Manager, (02) 6239 6555 or 0421 240 550

Additional Information:

World Health Organisation (WHO)

Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)

AMTA – Mobile phones and cancer claims – what does the World Health Organization Say?