Brain Cancer Incident Trends do not support link to cell phones

A new analysis by NCI researchers has turned up no evidence to support a link between cell phone use and brain cancer in the United States. The analysis was carried out in view of concerns about a possible link between widespread use of cell phones and brain cancer risk. With more than 279 million U.S. wireless subscribers today, the researchers reasoned that it should be possible to detect an increase in brain cancer rates over time if, in fact, cell phone use does contribute to risk of this particular cancer.

The caveat would be that no effect would be expected if the induction period for brain tumors is very long or increased risk is limited to long-term users.

Dr. Peter Inskip and his colleagues in NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics used NCI’s SEER database to examine brain cancer incidence trends between 1992 and 2006. In almost all age groups and in both men and women, the trends for brain cancer during these years were, if anything, slightly downward.

The one exception was a statistically significant increasing trend among females in their twenties, but not males. This increase, however, was driven by cancers in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is not where the researchers would have expected to see an effect from cell phones. Studies have shown that other parts of the brain are more highly exposed to the radiofrequency radiation from cell phones.

The U.S. findings are consistent with a recent study of brain cancer incidence trends in four European countries. That study found no change in rates from 1998 to 2003, the period when possible associations between mobile phone use and cancer risk would likely be apparent assuming an induction period of 5 to 10 years.

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