The World Health Organization (WHO) position on mobile phones and cancer is that

Current scientific evidence indicates that exposure to RF fields, such as those emitted by mobile phones and their base stations, is unlikely to induce or promote cancers

WHO Q&A http://www.who.int/features/qa/30/en/index.html

Despite this position, because so many people use mobile phones, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (or IARC, part of the WHO) has coordinated a study called INTERPHONE across 13 countries.

The aim of INTERPHONE was to look at whether mobile phone use is associated with an increased risk of head and neck tumours.


Brain Tumours - Glioma and Meningioma (Published 18 May 2010)

In May 2010, the INTERPHONE researchers published the results of the combined analysis for glioma and meningioma and found overall no increased risk of brain cancer from mobile phone use.

In announcing the results for glioma and meningioma, Dr Christopher Wild, Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said:

"An increased risk of brain cancer is not established from the data from INTERPHONE. However, observations at the highest level of cumulative call time and the changing patterns of mobile phone use since the period studied by INTERPHONE, particularly in young people, mean that further investigation of mobile phone use and brain cancer risk is merited.'"

The INTERPHONE researchers conclude:

“Overall, no increase in risk of glioma or meningioma was observed with use of mobile phones. There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma at the highest exposure levels, but biases and error prevent a causal interpretation. The possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones require further investigation.” 

Click here for the IARC INTERPHONE press release (May 2010)

Click here for the IARC INTERPHONE paper (May 2010) – Brain tumour risk in relation to mobile telephone use  

The INTERPHONE study will continue with publication of additional analyses of mobile phone use and tumours of the acoustic nerve and parotid gland.   It is expected this analysis will be completed before May 2011.


INTERPHONE received funding from the European Commission, the mobile industry and national authorities in several of the participating countries. Industry funds are administered via a firewall and the sponsors do not have access to any results of the studies before their acceptance for publication.

Summary on Health

We can be reassured by the results that the INTERPHONE researchers have found overall no increased risk of brain cancer from mobile phone use.

However, INTERPHONE cannot provide us with a clear answer for the risk of brain cancer for mobile phone use beyond 12 years. This is because of the small numbers of long term users in the study and biases from the research design - for example poor and/or inaccurate recall of past phone use.  Also mobile phone usage has changed over time, so further studies looking at long term risk are recommended by the researchers and in fact have already started.

Overall, the World Health Organization monitors scientific research on mobile phone safety and concludes:

"A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use." 

WHO Fact Sheet 193 June 2011 - Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones  


INTERPHONE - What the health experts say
INTERPHONE - Scientific summary and key points

More information...


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