Talk:Media reports exaggerate cell phone cancer risk

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Editing Talk: Media reports exaggerate cell phone cancer risk The Khurana et al study was published in a peer-reviewed journal (see 1 below). Furthermore, our research group published another meta-analysis in a peer-reviewed journal that arrived at similar conclusions (see 2 below). Please update this article.


Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., Director, Center for Family and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, 50 University Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-7360; 510-643-7314;;


1. Vini G. Khurana, Charles Teo, Michael Kundi, Lennart Hardell, Michael Carlberg. Cell phones and brain tumors: a review including the long-term epidemiologic data. Surgical Neurology. 72(3):205-214. Sep 2009.


Background The debate regarding the health effects of low-intensity electromagnetic radiation from sources such as power lines, base stations, and cell phones has recently been reignited. In the present review, the authors attempt to address the following question: is there epidemiologic evidence for an association between long-term cell phone usage and the risk of developing a brain tumor? Included with this meta-analysis of the long-term epidemiologic data are a brief overview of cell phone technology and discussion of laboratory data, biological mechanisms, and brain tumor incidence.

Methods In order to be included in the present meta-analysis, studies were required to have met all of the following criteria: (i) publication in a peer-reviewed journal; (ii) inclusion of participants using cell phones for 10 years (ie, minimum 10-year “latency”); and (iii) incorporation of a “laterality” analysis of long-term users (ie, analysis of the side of the brain tumor relative to the side of the head preferred for cell phone usage). This is a meta-analysis incorporating all 11 long-term epidemiologic studies in this field.

Results The results indicate that using a cell phone for 10 years approximately doubles the risk of being diagnosed with a brain tumor on the same (“ipsilateral”) side of the head as that preferred for cell phone use. The data achieve statistical significance for glioma and acoustic neuroma but not for meningioma.

Conclusion The authors conclude that there is adequate epidemiologic evidence to suggest a link between prolonged cell phone usage and the development of an ipsilateral brain tumor.

2. Seung-Kwon Myung, Woong Ju, Diana D. McDonnell, Yeon Ji Lee, Gene Kazinets, Chih-Tao Cheng, Joel M. Moskowitz. Mobile phone use and risk of tumors: A meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 20(27):5565-5572. Nov 2009. Published online first Oct 13, 2009.


From the Smoking Cessation Clinic, Center for Cancer Prevention and Detection; Division of Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Control Research Institute, National Cancer Center, Goyang; Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, Ewha Womans University; Department of Family Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea; and Center for Family and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA.

Purpose Case-control studies have reported inconsistent findings regarding the association between mobile phone use and tumor risk. We investigated these associations using a meta-analysis.

Methods We searched MEDLINE (PubMed), EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library in August 2008. Two evaluators independently reviewed and selected articles based on predetermined selection criteria.

Results Of 465 articles meeting our initial criteria, 23 case-control studies, which involved 37,916 participants (12,344 patient cases and 25,572 controls), were included in the final analyses. Compared with never or rarely having used a mobile phone, the odds ratio for overall use was 0.98 for malignant and benign tumors (95% CI, 0.89 to 1.07) in a random-effects meta-analysis of all 23 studies. However, a significant positive association (harmful effect) was observed in a random-effects meta-analysis of eight studies using blinding, whereas a significant negative association (protective effect) was observed in a fixed-effects meta-analysis of 15 studies not using blinding. Mobile phone use of 10 years or longer was associated with a risk of tumors in 13 studies reporting this association (odds ratio = 1.18; 95% CI, 1.04 to 1.34). Further, these findings were also observed in the subgroup analyses by methodologic quality of study. Blinding and methodologic quality of study were strongly associated with the research group.

Conclusion The current study found that there is possible evidence linking mobile phone use to an increased risk of tumors from a meta-analysis of low-biased case-control studies. Prospective cohort studies providing a higher level of evidence are needed.