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Comment on Media Claims that Brain Tumour Risk From use of Mobile Phones was Underestimated by the Interphone Study

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17 June 2010

A number of articles in the press on 15 June reported the claims of a small, self selected group, which claimed inaccuracies in the statistical analysis of the recently published paper “Brain tumour risk in relation to mobile telephone use: results of the INTERPHONE international case-control study”. The Interphone paper was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, and can be accessed via the following link:

The Interphone researchers reported an overall conclusion of no increased risk of brain tumours following the use of mobile phones.

The press reports on 15 June were based on a claim made in a poster at an international conference which gives a selective interpretation of the Interphone study. The poster is not new research and it has not been reviewed by independent scientists. The poster was needlessly alarmist and could cause real distress about a very rare disease. In line with MOA's policy of transparency, the poster can be accessed via this link:

In fact, the established science is extremely reassuring: the WHO stated, following the publication of the Interphone research in May 2010: "A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established for mobile phone use. "

The World Health Organisation, (WHO), Health Protection Agency, (HPA), the UK Advisory Group on Non Ionising Radiation (AGNIR) and the International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) have all confirmed that the Interphone study was well designed and carefully conducted and that the results give no reason for alteration of the current guidelines.

The mobile phone industry takes all questions regarding the safety of mobile phones seriously and we have a strong commitment to supporting ongoing scientific research. The industry is supporting the international COSMOS study (Cohort Study on Mobile Phone Use and Health) into long-term use of mobile phones and health.

Brain tumours are relatively rare; gliomas and meningiomas are the two most common types. Tumours of the brain account for less than 2% of all cancers diagnosed in the UK.

61% of UK adults access the internet from mobiles

Mobile phones cannot work without a network of base stations (masts). There are approximately 52,500 base station sites (excluding microcells) in the UK. Only a third of these are large, free standing masts. A YouGov survey for MOA (Sept 2014) showed that nearly 8 out of 10 people recognise the link between masts and good mobile coverage. Mobile telecommunications are vital for the UK’s economic competitiveness and in promoting social inclusion. There are now 89.9 million mobile subscriptions in the UK. In Q1 2015 61 per cent of UK adults used their mobile phones for internet access. Tablet ownership is 54% of UK households.

No Established Health Effects

Mobile phones operate by using radio waves, similar to those that have been widely used for decades, for example in radio, TV and radar signals. A large number of studies over the last two decades have found no clear evidence of adverse health effects from the use of mobile phones or from phone masts.