Mobile Phones and Cancer: Next Steps : Epidemiology

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Mobile Phones and Cancer

Next Steps

Hardell, Lennart; Carlberg, Michael; Söderqvist, Fredrik; Mild, Kjell Hansson

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Epidemiology 25(4):p 617-618, July 2014. | DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000115
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To the Editors:

We welcome the commentary by Samet et al1 and their recommendation for reanalysis of the main case-control studies on radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (the basis of all wireless technology). This reanalysis is something we have also suggested. The authors discuss pros and cons for the IARC classification of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (group 2B). However, several more recently published articles are either misinterpreted in or omitted from their presentation—for instance, 3 articles published by our research group on meningioma,2 acoustic neuroma,3 and malignant brain tumors.4 Our study and the INTERPHONE study differ in their recruitment of cases and controls, participation rates, and assessment of exposure, but restricting to the same age groups and omitting the use of cordless phones (as in INTERPHONE) gives similar results.5

The Danish cohort study6 was included in the IARC evaluation of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, with the conclusion that “phone provider, as a surrogate for mobile phone use, could have resulted in considerable misclassification in exposure assessment.” Samet et all write that this was “a study considered by the IARC Working Group” but fail to report the conclusion by the Working Group. Samet et all do not mention the analytic studies we published in 2013, but they do reference an update of the Danish cohort study and Benson et al7—the latter also published in 2013.

We have discussed elsewhere the increasing incidence of brain tumors in several countries including Denmark. There was a sharp increase in the incidence of brain tumors during 2003–2012 (41% in men and 46% in women). This casts doubt on the findings of both Deltour et al8 on glioma incidence in the Nordic countries during 1997–2008 and the recent report on the Danish cohort study on mobile phone users.6

In summary, we disagree with the way Samet et al1 have chosen to present evidence regarding mobile phones and cancer. We do, however, agree with the authors’ advice on “keeping people well-informed.” In considering the most up-to-date publications, we find increasing evidence of an association between the use of mobile or cordless phones and glioma and acoustic neuroma.

Lennart Hardell

Michael Carlberg

Department of Oncology

University Hospital

Örebro, Sweden

[email protected]

Fredrik Söderqvist

Centre for Clinical Research

Uppsala University

Central Hospital of Västerås

Västerås, Sweden

Kjell Hansson Mild

Department of Radiation Physics

Umeå University

Umeå, Sweden


1. Samet JM, Straif K, Schüz J, Saracci R. Commentary: mobile phones and cancer: next steps after the 2011 IARC review. Epidemiology. 2014;25:23–27
2. Carlberg M, Söderqvist F, Hansson Mild K, Hardell L. Meningioma patients diagnosed 2007–2009 and the association with use of mobile and cordless phones. Environ Health. 2013;12:60
3. Hardell L, Carlberg M, Söderqvist F, Hansson Mild K. Pooled analysis of case-control studies on acoustic neuroma diagnosed 1997-2003 and 2007-2009 and use of mobile and cordless phones. Int J Oncol. 2013;43:1036–1044
4. Hardell L, Carlberg M, Söderqvist F, Mild KH. Case-control study of the association between malignant brain tumours diagnosed between 2007 and 2009 and mobile and cordless phone use. Int J Oncol. 2013;43:1833–1845
5. Hardell L, Carlberg M, Hansson Mild K. Re-analysis of risk for glioma in relation to mobile telephone use: comparison with the results of the Interphone international case-control study. Int J Epidemiol. 2011;40:1126–1128
6. Frei P, Poulsen AH, Johansen C, Olsen JH, Steding-Jessen M, Schüz J. Use of mobile phones and risk of brain tumours: update of Danish cohort study. BMJ. 2011;343:d6387
7. Benson VS, Pirie K, Schüz J, Reeves GK, Beral V, Green JMillion Women Study Collaborators. . Mobile phone use and risk of brain neoplasms and other cancers: prospective study. Int J Epidemiol. 2013;42:792–802
8. Deltour I, Auvinen A, Feychting M, et al. Mobile phone use and incidence of glioma in the Nordic countries 1979-2008: consistency check. Epidemiology. 2012;23:301–307
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