What to Make of Cell Phone Study

After ten years of data collection, the largest study to date on cell phone use and the risk of brain tumors is largely inconclusive. MedPageToday says the study’s results “seems (sic) to be best summed up as ‘implausible’ and, after a decade of waiting, they seem likely to inflame the debate rather than laying it to rest.”

Here’s what Michael J. Thun, M.D., vice president emeritus, Epidemiology & Surveillance Research for the American Cancer Society had to say about this long-awaited study:

“This is the largest study of mobile phone use in relation to brain tumors. While the findings are predominantly negative, they are highly unlikely to end the controversy about whether cell phone use affects cancer risk. Among the areas of continuing controversy is that there are as yet no data on children who initiate heavy cell phone use early in life. Also, the majority of participants in this study were not heavy cell phone users compared to today’s practices; those who used cell phones for about one half hour per day ranked in the top 10 percent of use, and almost no one in the study had used cell phones for more than 20 years. Finally, the retrospective study design makes it difficult to interpret the observation of increased risk associated with certain subgroups, specifically participants in the top decile of cumulative usage and those who reported using their phone predominantly on the same side of their head as their tumor. Thus, it is important that these issues continue to be studied in children, with longer term use, and through prospective studies.”

Find out more about what studies say and what you can do if you’re concerned by visiting our comprehensive information page.

About David Sampson

I am the director of medical and scientific communications for the American Cancer Society national home office.
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