No evidence found linking brain tumors to mobile phones

In case you're following the cancer/cell phone controversy, the latest is that it probably does not cause brain tumors. At least, scientists are pretty sure. A few weeks ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) said mobile phones were "possibly carcinogenic." Now, researchers in Britain, the United States and Sweden conducted a major review of previously published studies and discovered that not only was there no convincing evidence that cell phones cause cancer, they couldn't tell how such a thing could possibly happen based on what is known about radio signals from mobile phones and biological mechanisms.

And, just for context, as Reuters points out, other things deemed by the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to be possibly carcinogenic include lead, pickled vegetables, coffee and dry cleaning. What all these items have in common, under the IARC's classification system, is that cancer risk cannot be proved or disproved. They're essentially saying that they won't say it does and they won't say it doesn't cause cancer. So, they'll put it on this special list and urge caution--just in case.

"Although there remains some uncertainty, the trend in the accumulating evidence is increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults," the experts wrote in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Anthony Swerdlow of the Institute of Cancer Research in the U.K. and one of the study's authors, told the BBC that in the past 20 years, mobile phones have gone from just about zero to 4.6 billion users around the world. Yet, he said, Western countries have shown "no indication of increases in brain tumor incidence."

Other experts told the BBC, however, that the new studies show that although there is no evidence of harm in the first 10 or 15 years of mobile phone use, it would be a good idea to keep studying it over the longer term.

So, while mobile phones may not cause brain tumors, they do, however, continue to annoy those unfortunate enough to sit next to an obsessive mobile phone talker.

- read more in a report by the BBC
- and another by AFP
- Reuters filed this report
- and read the abstract in Environmental Health Perspectives