Do cell phones increase brain cancer risk?

Oct 20, 2008

Major research initiatives are needed immediately to assess the possibility that using cellular phones may lead to an increased risk of brain tumors, according to an editorial in the November issue of the journal Surgical Neurology, published by Elsevier.

Recent studies have raised concerns that long-term exposure to electromagnetic fields (ELF) from cell-phone handsets can increase the risk of brain cancers and other nervous system tumors, according to the editorial by Dr. Ron Pawl, a neurosurgeon at Lake Forest Hospital, Lake Forest, Ill. He calls for collaborative research initiatives to determine whether the link between cell phones and brain cancer is real.

Scientists have long been concerned over the possibility that ELF exposure may increase the risk of brain cancers. Until recently, however, research has shown no clear link between cell phone use and brain tumors.

Earlier this year, a Swedish research group published an epidemiologic study suggesting an increased risk of brain cancers (gliomas) as well as acoustic nerve tumors (neuromas) in people using cell phones for ten years or longer. Tumors were more likely to develop on the same side as the cell phone was used. Other studies by the same group suggested that the use of wireless handsets in cordless home phones posed the same risk.

After reviewing the evidence, one author even suggested that long-term cell phone use is "more dangerous to health than smoking cigarettes." Other recent commentators have raised similar concerns.

The findings are alarming in light of the exponential growth of cell phones—now including widespread use by children and teenagers. The damaging effects of ELF, if any, might be even greater in the developing brain.

If the link is real, then rates of brain cancers should have increased over the last two decades. Some studies have reported that this is the case, particularly for the most malignant brain cancers. However, other studies have found a stable tumor rate.

Some commentators have suggested that apparent increases in the number of brain cancers might reflect the use of sophisticated imaging techniques like computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. "However, the fact that the incidence of gliomas, especially the more malignant varieties, is increasing [...] warrants action on this issue," Dr. Pawl writes.

The problem, according to Dr. Pawl, is that no other research groups have performed actual studies showing a clear relationship between brain tumors and ELF. He calls on scientific societies to play a leading role in designing and conducting studies that will definitively determine the risks of brain cancer associated with ELF exposure, particularly from cell phones. "It seems that a cooperative effort by both the scientific community and state governing bodies will be needed," writes Dr. Pawl. "Some spearhead is now necessary in view of the magnitude and seriousness of the situation."

Paper link: www.surgicalneurology-online.com

Source: Elsevier

Explore further: Testosterone testing has increased in recent years

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What exactly is Google's 'cancer nanodetector'?

Nov 11, 2014

Last week, US tech giants Google made a splash in the media, announcing plans to develop new 'disease-detecting magnetic nanoparticles'. This was almost universally welcomed – after all, trying to detect ...

Japan scientists make see-through mice

Nov 06, 2014

Researchers at the RIKEN Quantitative Biology Center in Japan, together with collaborators from the University of Tokyo, have developed a method that combines tissue decolorization and light-sheet fluorescent ...

Better diagnostic imaging for traumatic brain injuries

Oct 27, 2014

Image-calibration technology designed and developed by scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute and the Radiological Society ...

Recommended for you

Testosterone testing has increased in recent years

20 hours ago

(HealthDay)—There has been a recent increase in the rate of testosterone testing, with more testing seen in men with comorbidities associated with hypogonadism, according to research published online Nov. ...

AMA: Hospital staff should consider impact of CMS rule

Nov 21, 2014

(HealthDay)—Hospital medical staff members need to consider the impact of a final rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that revised the conditions of participation for hospitals ...

User comments : 14

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Modernmystic
3 / 5 (8) Oct 20, 2008
No...
Tekito
2.6 / 5 (7) Oct 20, 2008
Yes
Modernmystic
3.3 / 5 (7) Oct 20, 2008
Wow better turn off all your lights then Tek...visible light is higher frequency (ie closer to the ACTUAL cancer causing ionizing radiation) than microwaves are.
Velanarris
3.6 / 5 (7) Oct 20, 2008
Wow better turn off all your lights then Tek...visible light is higher frequency (ie closer to the ACTUAL cancer causing ionizing radiation) than microwaves are.


Doesn't matter. Cell phones operate on similar frequencies as many other household objects.

We all have the brain cancer now. Or, they're completely wrong, vote now by texting tumor to 1-800-CANCRRnD
Sirussinder
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 20, 2008


Does Japan have a spike in brain cancer on the common right handed, right ear, left brain side since the cell phone craze?

NO...by now there would have been a pattern emerging in the population and there does not appear to be.
hudres
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 20, 2008
The use of headsets, as required by law for drivers in many states, completely mitigates this problem.
M_N
3 / 5 (5) Oct 20, 2008
Since when did ELF stand for "electromagnetic fields"? I think they mean EMF. Hard to take an article seriously when they repeatedly make such a basic mistake.
Sophos
5 / 5 (6) Oct 20, 2008
The use of headsets, as required by law for drivers in many states, completely mitigates this problem.


After a Ph.D. in this field I do not believe non-ionizing radiation causes cancer. I just don't see a mechanism for damage.

However hudres if it does; headsets mean you are probably using the phone near your waist (cliped on or in pocket). There are a lot of organs near your waist much more sensitive to cancer induction than your brain.
Velanarris
3.7 / 5 (6) Oct 20, 2008
The use of headsets, as required by law for drivers in many states, completely mitigates this problem.


After a Ph.D. in this field I do not believe non-ionizing radiation causes cancer. I just don't see a mechanism for damage.

However hudres if it does; headsets mean you are probably using the phone near your waist (cliped on or in pocket). There are a lot of organs near your waist much more sensitive to cancer induction than your brain.


Not to mention that bluetooth is a 2.4 ghz signal. Which is closer to the range in which cancer causing radiation would be found than cellular signal.
GrayMouser
3 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2008
Why worry? It was an editorial not serious science...
Soylent
2.7 / 5 (3) Oct 21, 2008
Not to mention that bluetooth is a 2.4 ghz signal. Which is closer to the range in which cancer causing radiation would be found than cellular signal.


Why would you expect a "range in which cancer causing radiation would be found" around 2.4 GHz?
Bob_Kob
4 / 5 (1) Oct 21, 2008
Higher frequency means bad.
Velanarris
4.5 / 5 (2) Oct 21, 2008
Not to mention that bluetooth is a 2.4 ghz signal. Which is closer to the range in which cancer causing radiation would be found than cellular signal.


Why would you expect a "range in which cancer causing radiation would be found" around 2.4 GHz?
Not expecting anything.

2.4 Ghz is closer to the bands of ionizing radiation than cellular 2.1 ghz is.
Lord_jag
5 / 5 (1) Oct 21, 2008
In real estate ELF is Electrical Light Fixtures.... as in all the chandeleers and such.

What does this have to do with cell phones?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.