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Epidemiological risk assessment of mobile phones and cancer: where can we improve?

Auvinen, Anssia b; Toivo, Tima; Tokola, Karia b

European Journal of Cancer Prevention: December 2006 - Volume 15 - Issue 6 - p 516-523
doi: 10.1097/01.cej.0000203617.54312.08
Review: Lifestyle and Environment

This paper aims to provide an overview of factors affecting the validity of epidemiological studies on health effects of mobile phone use. A qualitative review of published studies is presented, covering both risk assessment and exposure assessment. Considerable random error is likely to have occurred in studies carried out so far, primarily related to exposure assessment. Self-reported use of mobile phone appears to be imprecise. The relationship between the amount of mobile phone use and the radio-frequency field is unclear. Several factors affect the strength of the radio-frequency field emitted by the phone, and accommodating their effect has the potential to improve exposure assessment. The major opportunity to improve the quality of evidence is, however, through prospective studies. The major limitation of epidemiological studies addressing the health effects of mobile phone use is related to exposure assessment. These limitations are inherent in case–control studies. Quality of evidence can be improved by conducting prospective cohort studies.

aSTUK-Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Helsinki

bUniversity of Tampere, School of Public Health, Tampere, Finland

Correspondence and requests for reprints to Anssi Auvinen, School of Public Health, University of Tampere, FIN-33014 Tampere, Finland

Tel: +358 3 3551 6883; fax: +358 3 3551 6057; e-mail

Sponsorship: The study was supported financially in part by grants from Emil Aaltonen Foundation and National Technology Agency TEKES, Research Programme on Health Effects of Mobile Communication (HERMO).

Received 22 December 2005 Accepted 11 January 2006

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.