Israeli study needs to be taken in context of other studies

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) supports research in to the safety of mobile phones, however, people should not jump to conclusions based on the findings of a recent Israeli study.

The publication of the Israeli population-based case-control study of tumours of the parotid (salivary) glands in the American Journal of Epidemiology is the latest of the 13-national studies to be published under the internationally co-ordinated INTERPHONE project.

The Israeli study authors reported no overall risk for regular phone users or any of the other measures of exposure they investigated. However, they also reported a statistical association for the heaviest mobile phone users.

AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus, said the industry had noted the findings that the risk of developing a parotid gland tumour is 50% higher for people who have used mobile phones for more than 22 hours a month.

“AMTA supports new quality research on mobile phone safety, but emphasizes that individual studies need to be seen in the light of the total research effort into mobile phone safety,” he said.

“Until we have the results of all of the other national studies, as well as the overall analysis of the data that will be undertaken by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a complete assessment cannot be made.

“No single study can answer any scientific question and this study, like all others, must be viewed not in isolation but against the backdrop of significant previous research.”

IARC also supports this view in an update following the release of the Israeli study:

In the Israeli study, where study subjects tended to report substantially heavier use of mobile phones, results suggest a possible relation between heavy mobile phone use and risk of parotid gland tumours. Additional investigations of this association, with longer latency periods and large numbers of heavy users are needed to confirm these findings.

The Israeli study is part of the 13-nation INTERPHONE study, the biggest and most comprehensive study undertaken to consider if the use of mobile phones increases head and neck cancers.

The most authoritative conclusions regarding INTERPHONE will only be drawn when the pooled analysis of the full international data is validated and published in its entirety, which is expected in 2008. INTERPHONE will then contribute to the full IARC assessment and extensive research to date.

For more information contact Randal Markey, AMTA (02) 62396555 or 0421 240 550