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23/06/2011 - Brain tumours evidence rises - shares fall

New Hardell study strengthens the link between wireless phone use and brain tumours

Lennart Hardell, Michael Carlson and Kjell Hansson Mild have further studied the association between use of mobile and cordless phones and malignant brain tumours. This new study has been published in the International Journal of Oncology. They concluded that there was a significantly increased risk for glioma from the long-term use of a mobile or cordless phone.

The risk increased with latency time and cumulative use in hours and was highest in subjects with first use before the age of 20 - in this group there was almost 5 times the risk after 10 years mobile phone use.

Pooled analysis was performed of two case-control studies on patients with malignant brain tumours diagnosed during 1997-2003 and matched controls alive at the time of study and one case-control study on deceased patients and controls diagnosed during the same time period. Cases and controls or relatives to deceased subjects were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. Replies were obtained for 1,251 (85%) cases and 2,438 (84%) controls.

The risk increased with latency period and cumulative use in hours for both mobile and cordless phones.

Highest overall risk was found for the most common type of glioma, astrocytoma. People who had used a wireless phone for more than ten years had increased risks of: Mobile phone use odds ratio (OR) = 2.7, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.9-3.7,   and for Cordless phone use OR = 1.8, 95% CI = 1.2-2.9

In a separate analysis, both phone types were also found to be risk factors for glioma. The risk for astrocytoma was highest in the group with first use of a wireless phone before the age of 20: Mobile phone use OR = 4.9, 95% CI = 2.2-11,   Cordless phone use OR = 3.9, 95% CI = 1.7-8.7

For older people the increased risk was between 1.3-fold and 1.5-fold if they had used any type of wireless phone for more than ten years.

This new study highlights the need to teach our children that mobile phone use can be very dangerous to their long-term health and well-being and to use their mobile phones for essential calls only and text or use air-tube hands free headsets. This should be taught to them by parents, health workers and schools.

Mobile telecommunications shares slide following admission that RF is possibly carcinogenic


Share prices do change a great deal depending on market conditions and company performance. Even so, there has been a noticeable drop in the value of mobile telecoms industry shares since the IARC RF cancer ruling on 31st May 2011. Overall the market prices from May highs to mid-June lows are down by over 10%, with a clear fall at the start of June following the IARC announcement.

Mobile phone companies and manufacturers have very little, if any, insurance cover for EMF/RF health-related personal injury claims. Where they do have cover it is usually on a very limited "claims made" basis. Even though the IARC ruling was to class all EMF (ELF and RF) energy only as a "possible" human carcinogen, that is enough to interest lawyers in starting to move forward with many brain tumour claims.

On 1st June, the New York Times wrote: "For now, it seems reasonable to conduct more research and to monitor usage by children, who could have a lifetime of exposure ahead. Heavy users of cell phones might want to use headsets, speaker phones or text messaging to keep the device at a distance. Most would be surprised to learn that cellphone manufacturers, presumably to ward off liability claims, already advise users in very small print to hold the phones a short distance from the body while calling."

On 7th June 7 2011, Cellcom Israel Ltd announced a purported class action lawsuit against the Company and three other cellular operators was filed in Tel-Aviv-Jaffa, by an Israeli citizen, in connection with the allegation that the defendants mislead customers who buy accessories for carrying cellular handsets or do not disclose to them relevant data concerning radiation hazards associated with the usage of accessories for carrying cellular handsets, allegedly contrary to the cellular handsets manufacturers' instructions and warnings and the Israeli Ministry of Health' recommendations. The total amount claimed from the Company, if the lawsuit is certified as a class action, is estimated by the plaintiff to be approximately NIS 1 billion shekels, out of a total sum of approximately NIS 2.7 billion against all defendants. The plaintiff also notes his intention to seek interim remedies to require the defendants to take necessary precautionary measures if the defendants do not do so within 15 days.

Matthew Lynn's "City View" in MoneyWeek on 13th June 2011 includes:
Keep an eye on mobile phones - they could bring down the global economy ...

For starters, investors should be monitoring the medical data and keeping up with the latest developments. They should be demanding that the mobile companies do everything they can to research the risks - and mitigate them. There is no point in simply denying that such a risk exists, in the way that the tobacco industry did for decades. Investors should also be preparing an exit strategy. If a link is ever proved beyond a doubt, you don't want to be holding the shares or bonds of any of the main players in the industry. You might want to avoid holding equities full stop - the knock-on effects for the rest of the markets would be so severe.

Meanwhile, don't give up on some fairly old-fashioned technologies. Fixed-line operators, such as British Telecom, could be set for one of the greatest bounce backs of all time. The shares yield 4%, so tuck a few away. If we all decide to get rid of our mobiles and start using the land-line again, these shares will soar.

CNN's "Your Money" Ali Velshi recently called for cell phone companies to come clean (news video).

The Lancet Oncology publishes the formal IARC view that RF is possibly carcinogenic

The Lancet Oncology has published a summary from a meeting of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), that classifies radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) (including those caused by mobile phones) as possibly carcinogenic to humans (division 2B in the IARC classification). Extraordinarily, IARC have not paid to have this available as free public access.

30 scientists from 14 countries met in Lyon, France, at the end of May, 2011, to discuss the evidence surrounding RF-EMF and cancer. The working group was chaired by Dr Jonathan Samet, Chair of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine. Their conclusion that RF-EMF is possibly carcinogenic to humans is based on several studies.

Human exposures to RF-EMF (frequency range 30 kHz-300 GHz) can occur from use of personal devices (eg, mobile telephones, cordless phones, Bluetooth, and amateur radios), from occupational sources (eg, high-frequency dielectric and induction heaters, and high-powered pulsed radars), and from environmental sources such as mobile-phone base stations, broadcast antennas, and medical applications.

The Working Group concluded that there is also limited evidence in experimental animals for the carcinogenicity of RF-EMF. It also reviewed many studies with endpoints relevant to mechanisms of carcinogenesis, including genotoxicity, effects on immune function, gene and protein expression, cell signalling, oxidative stress, apoptosis, effects on the blood-brain barrier and on a variety of effects in the brain were also considered. They reached the overall conclusion that these results currently did provide weak mechanistic evidence relevant to RF-EMF-induced cancer in humans.

The IARC working group also reviewed a combined analysis of Swedish studies (published in 2011) in which participants who had used a mobile phone for more than 1 year had a 1.3 times (or 30%) increased risk of gliomas, when compared with never users. This increased with increasing time since first use and with total call time, reaching 3.2 times increased risk for more than 2000 hours of use. The authors say: "Although both the INTERPHONE study and the Swedish pooled analysis are susceptible to bias — due to recall error and selection for participation — the Working Group concluded that the findings could not be dismissed as reflecting bias alone, and that a causal interpretation between mobile phone RF-EMF exposure and glioma is possible."


  1. Hardell L, Carlberg M, Hansson Mild K (2011) Pooled analysis of case-control studies on malignant brain tumours and the use of mobile and cordless phones including living and deceased subjects. Int J Oncol. May;38(5):1465-74 Epub 2011 Feb 17. [see on PubMed]
  2. Samet J and IARC RF Monograph Working Group (2011) Carcinogenicity of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. www.thelancet.com/oncology Published online June 22, 2011 DOI:10.1016/S1470-2045(11)70147-4 [see Journal page]