Monday, 20 May 2019

Increased mobile phone use has not significantly changed brain tumour rates in NZ finds new research

  Professor Elwood

The rate of brain tumours has not changed significantly in the past 15 years despite a dramatic increase in the number of New Zealanders using mobile phones, according to new research from the University of Auckland.
“This study shows no consistent increase in primary brain cancers over the period 1995 to 2010 in NZ,” concluded the paper just published in the Australia and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
“This is despite high mobile phone prevalence since 2000 and so does not support the hypothesis that mobile phone usage increases the incidence of brain cancer in NZ.”
The research was led by cancer epidemiologist, Professor Mark Elwood, because of concerns about whether the dramatic increase in the number of New Zealanders using mobile phones in the past 10 years led to an increase in the frequency of brain tumours.
“Several major international studies have suggested either no risk or a slightly increased risk in high users, while some others have suggested substantial risks,” Professor Elwood said. 
His team examined the annual incidence of brain cancers, both in total and in those sub-types highlighted in some other studies, in New Zealand from 1995 to 2010, using data from the New Zealand national cancer registry.
“There has been no general increase,” Professor Elwood said. “In fact, for the wide age range 10 to 69 years, there has been a decrease of about one percent per year.”
“This adds to the evidence against there being a substantial increased risk in mobile phone users. This is consistent with most, but not all, similar studies done in other countries,” he said.
Professor Elwood said these studies together suggest that previous reports of large increases in risk in mobile phone users are likely to be incorrect.
“But a study of this type cannot exclude a small risk, or one limited to a certain subtype of cancers, or a risk only arising after more than about 15 years of phone use,” he said.
“We have no explanation for the decrease in brain cancers in New Zealand,” Professor Elwood said. “In people aged over 70 years, there was an increase in some types of brain cancer. This has been seen in other countries and is likely to relate to improved diagnosis.”
The research received widespread media coverage in New Zealand and Australia.


Published 7/4/2015

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