Federal Government Interphone Response

THE HON MARK BUTLER MP -Parliamentary Secretary for Health

MEDIA STATEMENT - Interphone Mobile Phone Study

17 May 2010

Parliamentary Secretary for Health Mark Butler today noted the results of the international Interphone study into the link between mobile phone use and brain cancer.

The Interphone report is the most extensive study conducted on the topic with interviews conducted in 13 countries, including Australia. The Australian Centre was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Cancer Council.

While there were suggestions of an increased risk of certain types of brain cancer associated with the highest levels of mobile phone use, these results may be due to biases in the study which are difficult to avoid.

A statement from Dr Christopher Wild, Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which oversaw the study, said: “An increased risk of brain cancer is not established from the data from Interphone. However, observations at the highest level of cumulative call time and the changing patterns of mobile phone use since the period studied by Interphone, particularly in young people, mean that further investigation of mobile phone use and brain cancer risk is merited.”

The Interphone report has been reviewed by the Federal Government’s independent radiation authority ARPANSA, which said that it:

  • recommends that parents encourage their children to limit their exposure by reducing call time, by making calls where reception is good, by using hands-free devices, speaker options, or by texting; 
  • continues to inform those concerned over health effects of exposure that the above precautionary measures will reduce such exposure, and 
  • concludes that currently available data does not warrant any general recommendation to limit use of mobile phones in the adult population.

I note the ARPANSA statement is consistent with its existing advice on the use of mobile phones, including by children. I also note that it is consistent with the advice of the Cancer Council issued in response to the Interphone report.

The Australian Government will continue to closely monitor ongoing research in the area.

Media contact:

Samantha Regione, Mr Butler’s Office, 02 6277 4414