ROUND-UP: Mobile Phones and Risk of Brain Tumours (BMJ) – Experts Respond
Professor Bruce Armstrong is Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health. Professor Armstrong is also the Australian lead author of the Interphone study, a large international epidemiological study into mobile phones and cancer published in 2010.
“This is an important study and the only credible cohort study currently that looks at the association between mobile phone subscription and risk of brain tumours. This particular analysis is much better than preceding ones because it takes in a longer period of time and because the authors have taken into account the different socio-economic status of mobile phone users and non-mobile phone users (allowing, for example, adjustment for education and income when estimating risks related to mobile phone use).
There are two things that must be borne in mind with this study. The first is that this is a study of mobile phone subscribers, not mobile phone use. Thus risk cannot be related to actual amount of use, only to length of subscription. The second thing is that it is not true to say that the study shows no association between mobile phone subscription and risk of brain tumours. There was weak evidence of an association between mobile phone use and risk of brain tumours, but any evidence of increased risk was not more evident in the temporal lobe (temporal glioma), which is the area that is most exposed to mobile phone radiation and where you would expect to find evidence of an association, nor in people who had held subscriptions for the longest time.
The bottom line is that the study does not change my overall view that there is still considerable uncertainty remaining about the risk of mobile phone use and brain tumours. While the evidence is weak, it is possible that mobile phone use does cause brain tumours and we need further research such as in the very large Cosmos cohort study being conducted in Europe.”
Published on the Australian Science Media Centre Website.
8th November, 2011