Cancer Council Media Release

 World’s largest mobile phone study fails to find brain cancer link

17 May 2010

Cancer Council Australia has cautiously welcomed the results of the largest international study to date into mobile phone use, which has found no evidence that normal use of mobile phones, for a period up to 12 years, can cause brain cancer.

Chief Executive Officer, Professor Ian Olver, said findings from the Interphone study, conducted across 13 countries including Australia, were consistent with other research that had failed to find a link between mobile phones and cancer.

“This supports previous research showing mobile phones don’t damage cell DNA, meaning they can’t cause the type of genetic mutations that develop into cancer,” Professor Olver said.

“However, it has been suggested that electromagnetic fields associated with mobile phones may play a role in speeding up the development of an existing cancer. The Interphone study found no evidence to support this theory.”

Professor Olver said one intriguing finding from the study was that patients with glioma were more likely to have the tumour on the same side of the head as the mobile phone was used, where there was excessive use. “This doesn’t prove a link between brain cancer and mobile phones, however it does point to a need for more investigation of heavy phone use,” he said.

Cancer Council Scientific Advisor, Professor Bernard Stewart, confirmed there were no “big surprises” from the study and said it would take another decade or more to see definitive findings on risks associated with mobile phone use.

“This study involves phone usage for 12 years at most, so it tells us little about risk associated with mobile phone use over decades. In particular, insufficient time has passed since mobile phones were introduced to determine whether or not there is a risk to children,” he said.

“Until this area has been fully investigated, Cancer Council recommends caution in relation to children - they should either not use, or minimise their use of mobile phones.

“Anyone concerned about the harmful effects of electromagnetic energy should reduce their use of mobile phones, or employ hands-free technology.”

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