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06/02/2006 - Study shows increase in brain cancer risk from using a mobile or cordless phone for over 5 years


A new study has just been published in the Journal of Oncology (February 2006), showing the most convincing evidence yet that long term usage of mobile and cordless phones may well increase the chance of getting brain cancer. Usage of analogue mobile phones for longer than 1 year was found to increase the risk of acoustic neuroma threefold (OR = 2.9 - 95% CI 2.0-4.3). Both GSM digital phones and cordless telephones were found to increase the risk by approximately 50% (OR = 1.5 - 95% CI 1.1-2.1 and OR = 1.5 - 95% CI 1.04-2.0 respectively).

It is currently unlikely for a study to find much of an association between a cause and brain cancer with less than 10 years exposure as it usually takes at least this long for brain cancer to develop to the point it is diagnosed. This is one of the first studies thought to be capable of making a genuine assessment of mobile phone usage for longer than 10 years.

Initial analysis of the results in the study suggest that there is, on the whole, a noticeable increase in risk after 5 years of use. For acoustic neuromas there seems to be little further increase after 10 years, however for all benign tumours grouped together, the increase with time is significant. The following increased relative risk results are for GSM phone users who have used their phone for at least 64 hours in total (i.e. 64 minutes per month over 5 years or 32 minutes per month over 10 years) and cordless phone users over 195 hours (i.e. 98 minutes per month or 3 minutes each day, averaged over 10 years).

    Years of usage  
Phone Type 1 - 5 years 5 - 10 years over 10 years
Digital users 1.1 1.5* 1.6
Cordless users 1.2 1.6* 2.1*

The relative risks marked * are statistically significant at 95% confidence interval


It appears that there is a very strong and definitive trend in acoustic neuromas, where even short term usage significantly increases your risk of developing the tumour, even for digital and cordless phones. Analogue phones seem to have posed the greatest risk and also show significant increases in other types of benign tumours, especially with longer term usage. One concerning finding is the statistically significant association of all benign brain tumours with cordless phone use, showing a doubling in risk for more than 10 years use at a very low average use per day. As the average latency time for these benign tumours is thought to be 10 years or greater, it would be very helpful to conduct a larger study in a few years when it is possible to get both a) a larger sample of long term users of mobile phones, and b) a longer period of usage for the long term users.

International Journal of Oncology - International Journal of Oncology
Contents of the Journal's February 2006 issue - Contents of the Journal's February 2006 issue, where this study is published