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Cell Phone Users Still At Risk For Brain Cancer
Business Wire-Health
By: Lennart Hardell, MD
05/04/00

With worldwide cellular phone use rising exponentially, a team of Swedish medical investigators is raising renewed concerns about links between brain tumors and the phones in a new, peer-reviewed article to be posted today on Medscape General Medicine.

In the report, "Case-Control Study on Radiological Work, Medical X-ray Investigations and Use of Cellular Telephones as Risk Factors for Brain Tumors," the Swedish team investigated localization of the brain tumors since handheld cell phones increase the exposure of microwaves to the side of the brain corresponding to the side of the head most favored by cell phone users. Statistical analysis indicated an increase in associated risk for brain tumors in the anatomical areas - i.e., temporal, temporoparietal and occipital lobes of the brain -- that received the highest doses of microwaves. The risk from cell phones was significantly increased when adjustment was made for other risk factors in the study (laboratory work and medical x-ray investigations of the head and neck). The article also points out that all but one of the 13 individuals with malignant or benign tumors within exposed anatomical areas of the brain relied on the older analog technology with greater power output. The complete report will be available to the public at http://www.medscape.com/MedGenMed/braintumors.

The study, conducted over a two-year period in two separate regions of Sweden, evaluated a total of 233 patient cases with verified brain tumors. Each of these patient cases was matched to two controls, or healthy subjects (466 in total), based on similar sex, age, and geography. Eight of these 233 patients had recurrent brain tumors and were excluded from the study together with their matched controls. The cases and controls were evaluated for exposure to a variety of possible cancer risks through questionnaires and additional telephone interviews. The statistical analysis was based on answers from 209 cases and 425 controls. Some of the other risks examined in this study included exposure to radiation, electromagnetic fields or video displays, exposure to various chemical agents including pesticides, exposure to the sweetener aspartame, and risk by occupation. The study was supported by grants from Cancer- och Allergifonden, the Swedish Medical Research Council and Orebro Cancer Fund.

Dr. George D. Lundberg, Editor-in-Chief of MedGenMed and its parent company, Medscape, Inc., said of the article, "The study reaffirms that this issue requires further investigation, in spite of recent reports downplaying the association between cell phone use and brain tumors, and the lower-power output associated with newer digital phones . With the proliferation of cell phones -- and the fact that many older higher-power output phones are still in use -- it is important to adequately assess the risks in larger, ongoing studies."