Azara Blog: Mobile phone use allegedly does not lead to a greater risk of a brain tumour

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Date published: 2006/01/20

The BBC says:

Mobile phone use does not lead to a greater risk of brain tumour, the largest study on the issue has said. The study of 2,782 people across the UK found no link between the risk of glioma - the most common type of brain tumour - and length of mobile use. Among cancer sufferers the tumours were more likely to be reported on the side of the head where they held the phone.

But the British Medical Journal study said people over-reported phone use on the side their cancer developed.

The research, which was carried out by the British arm of an international project called Interphone, reiterates the findings of most earlier studies in saying that there is no connection between cancer and mobile phone use.
Research author Professor Patricia McKinney, Professor of Paediatric Epidemiology at the Leeds University, said: "For regular mobile phone users, there was no increased risk of developing a glioma associated with mobile phone use."

She acknowledged that there appeared to be an increased risk among brain cancer sufferers on the side of the head where they held the phone.

The team, however, did not put this down to a causal link, because almost exactly the same decreased risk was seen on the other side of the head, leaving no overall increase risk of tumours for mobile phone users.

Instead, they blamed biased reporting from brain tumour sufferers who knew what side of the head their tumours were on.

Interesting, but of course the anti-technology zealots will never accept any result which does not "prove" that technology is evil. (And since all technology has a downside, no doubt some day something real and negative will be found. The real question is whether the positive outweighs the negative.) The observation about brain cancer sufferers is particularly interesting. To prove their idea is correct, rather than just suggest it, the researchers would have to track peoples' usage before they got brain cancer. But this "recall" issue arises in various guises. Just listen to Radio 4 and you can hear someone who has gotten ill for some reason blaming some technology (injections, pills, mobile phones, etc.) for the problem. (Of course, sometimes it's true.)

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