Cell phones and brain tumors: is there any link?

July 4, 2010  |  General

People today use their cell phones a lot — so much so that some folks I know seemed to have them glued to their ear all day long. Is there any risk to that? Some have questioned if the radio waves involved might lead to an increased risk of tumors — cancer — in those who do this. A recent article in the International Journal of Epidemiology sheds some light on the question. (Epidemiology is the study not of individual sick people, but of how disease affects populations.)

The study is what is called a case-control study. This matches people with a particular condition with people who don’t have the condition, but who otherwise are similar to those with the disorder. The investigators then look for things — evironmental exposures, for example — that are present in the patients with the disorder but not in the control group, those without the disease.

In this case, the investigators found no link between cell phone use and the occurance of two common brain tumors. These results need to be confirmed, like all medical research, especially since there was some possibility of a link at very high exposures, but overall the results are reassuring.

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