Major new study finds no link between mobile phone use and brain tumours

The results of the combined data from five European countries has found no evidence that using a mobile phone increases the risk of acoustic neuroma, a rare benign tumour that forms between the brain and the inner ear, in the first ten years of mobile phone use.

Researchers from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the UK published the research involving more than 4000 people in the British Journal of Cancer and announced that: The study found no relation between the risk of acoustic neuroma and the number of years for which mobile phones had been used, the time since first use, the total hours of use or the total number of calls, nor were there any relations separately for analogue or digital phone use.

The researchers concluded that: ... on balance, the evidence suggests that there is no substantial risk of acoustic neuroma in the first decade of use, but the possibility of some effect after longer periods remains open.'

The authors also report a statistically significant raised risk of a tumour on the same side of the head as reported phone use for 10 years or more usage. However the authors describe this result as of “uncertain interpretation” due to the lack of consistent supporting evidence.

Acoustic neuroma is a slow-growing benign tumour of the auditory nerve and diagnosis is often associated with tinnitus or progressive hearing loss. This could mean that the onset of the tumour is more likely to be noticed on the side of the head that a person typically uses their phone.

The data used from Sweden and Denmark has been published separately in the past. The new combined study is part of the 13-nation INTERPHONE study coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France.

“As always, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) welcomes new research on mobile phone safety, but emphasises that all studies need to be seen in the light of the total research effort into mobile phone safety,” Graham Chalker, AMTA CEO said. 

“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.

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

“Because acoustic neuroma is a rare disease, individual national studies completed so far are limited by the small numbers of subjects who have used a phone for more than 10 years,” Mr Chalker said.

Once completed, it is expected that the INTERPHONE project and its individual national studies will have examined about 1000 cases of acoustic neuroma.

 “This much larger combined study adds significant weight to the evidence that acoustic neuromas are not associated with mobile phone use,” Mr Chalker said.

AMTA supports further research, in accordance with the WHO’s research program, to advance the science in relation to mobile phones and health and so that there is accurate information to assist people to make informed choices in relation to mobile technology.

For more information contact Randal Markey, Manager, Communications, (02) 6239 6555 or 0421 240550