Industry supports ongoing health research on safety of mobiles

The latest international study on the use of mobile phones found no overall link between mobile phone use and malignant brain tumours, the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, Chris Althaus, said today.

He was commenting on media reports of a study undertaken by five northern European countries – Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Mr Althaus said the study concluded that there was no evidence of increased risk of brain tumours related to regular mobile phone use regardless of the cumulative number of calls or cumulative hours of use or the number of calls.

“The only indication of a potential effect was found among mobile phone users who had used a mobile phone for at least 10 years,” he said.

“The researchers found a slightly increased risk of a tumour on the side of the head on which they held the phone, however, as the researchers pointed out there is always a risk of error associated with recall, which affects the reliability of the results.

“The researchers say that ‘…long-term use needs to be explored further before firm conclusions can be drawn’.”

Mr Althaus said the Food and Drug Administration in the United States had expressed caution about drawing firm conclusions from this study.

“.., in the abstract of this paper, the authors express caution about their findings and state that it is a ‘borderline statistical significance’ and this finding needs to be explored further before firm conclusions can be drawn.”

Mr Althaus said the INTERPHONE study, which is the biggest undertaken, would combine the results of 13 national studies.

The Interphone study is being co-ordinated by the International Agency for the Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Interphone consists of a series of multinational epidemiological studies from 13 countries including Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Mr Althaus said: “Brain cancer is a very rare disease and therefore a number of countries’ data needs to be combined to include significant numbers of people who have both brain cancer and have used a mobile phone for a significant period of time.

“Because of the rarity of brain tumours some of the results are based on small numbers and should be treated with caution until all studies are completed and the data combined and an overall analysis is made by IARC.

“AMTA welcomes and supports new research on mobile phone safety, which is in accordance with the WHO’s research program. However, we emphasise that individual studies need to be seen in the light of the total research effort into mobile phone safety. Accurate information will assist people to make informed choices in relation to mobile technology and health.”

For further information contact Randal Markey, AMTA, 0421 240 550