Due to the high levels of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields that are emitted by mobile phones, there are concerns about their potential association with brain cancer. Although several studies have been published on this subject, these remain highly conflicting and sometimes controversial, and therefore, require further investigations.
Therefore, the World Health Organization (WHO) considered this issue as a high research priority by encouraging studies that investigate the link between brain cancer incidence and mobile phone use .
In addition, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified mobile phone radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” .
Studies Supporting an Association Between Mobile Phone Use and Brain Cancer
1- The Interphone Study
This study investigated the association between mobile phone radiofrequency electromagnetic fields and brain tumors (glioma and meningioma). The study involved 2708 glioma cases and 2409 meningioma cases, both cases had their matching controls .
The cases included in the study were also users that had at least 10 years of exposure with great cumulative hours of mobile phone use.
The study found a potential association between mobile phone use and increased risk of glioma tumors. They also noticed a correlation between the tumor location and the side of the head that was used for mobile phone use. However, no association was found between mobile phone use and increased risk of meningioma .
2- The Swedish Study
This study investigated the association between the use of mobile and cordless phones and malignant brain tumors and included 1,251 cases of astrocytoma and of the most common type of glioma with their case controls (2,438).
The study found a statistically significant increase in the risk of glioma and astrocytoma that was associated with the use of mobile phones. They also found a statistically significant increase in the more 5-10-year latency group (tumor induction period) for both glioma and astrocytoma .
Studies Supporting an Absence of Association Between Mobile Phone Use and Brain Cancer
1- The Australian Studies
Two studies investigated the association between brain cancer and the use of mobile phones. The first study examined this association using the national cancer registration data that included 19,858 males and 14,222 females diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia between 1982 and 2012.
The study found no increase in the incidence of brain cancer in association with mobile phone use. Although an increase in the incidence of brain cancer between 1982 and 2012, the authors suggest that this increase was due to improvement in diagnostic detection techniques .
The second study investigated the association between mobile phone use and the incidence of brain tumor histological types, grading, or anatomical location.
The authors examined the trends of brain tumors over the period 1982–2013 using the national Australian incidence registration data on primary cancers of the brain that included cases (10 083 males and 6742 females) diagnosed between 1982 and 2013 .
The study found no increase in any type of brain tumor, histological type, or glioma location that could have been associated with mobile phone use.
2- The Canadian Study
This study investigated the association between trends in cell phone use and the incidence rate of glioma over the period 1992-2015 using the Canadian Cancer Registry and the national industry statistics to determine the annual number of new cell phone subscribers during that period.
The study found no association between increased risks of glioma and cell phone use. The study also found that the incidence rates of glioma were relatively stable between 1992-2015 in Canada .
3- The Danish Study
This study investigated the association between cell phone use and the incidence rates of brain and salivary gland tumors, leukemia, and other cancers during the period from 1982-1995 using the Danish Cancer Registry and subscriber lists from two Danish cell phone operating companies.
Although containing a large cohort, this study found no variation in risks of brain and salivary gland tumors, leukemia, and other cancers during the duration of cell phone use, the type of cell phone nor the age at first subscription .
The Interphone study and the Swedish study indicated the potential association between brain cancers and cell phone use; however, other large-scale studies have also reported the absence of association between the two.
These highly conflicting and sometimes controversial studies highlight the importance of further research to clarify this health-related issue. Therefore, the World Health Organization (WHO) considered this issue as a high research priority and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified mobile phone radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.
Finally, the question here is not about who is right or wrong, it is about ensuring that there is no risk of brain cancers when using a cell phone for a long period of time, and thus, only scientific facts and international collaborations can answer this question.
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