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29 years of data shows no mobile phone brain cancer link

Steep increase in phone use produces 'no increase in brain cancer incidence'

An Australian study has found no increase in brain cancers over the last 29 years, despite enormous increase in use of mobile phones.

The study, relies on the fact that all cases of cancer are recorded in Australia. That means the study's authors were able to examine “the association between age and gender-specific incidence rates of 19,858 men and 14,222 women diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia between 1982-2012.” The authors also tossed in data on mobile usage data from covering 1987-2012.

Lead author Simon Chapman, emeritus professor in public health at the University of Sydney, explains at The Conversation offers the following conclusion:

In summary, with extremely high proportions of the population having used mobile phones across some 20-plus years (from about 9% in 1993 to about 90% today), we found that age-adjusted brain cancer incidence rates (in those aged 20-84 years, per 100,000 people) had risen only slightly in males but were stable over 30 years in females.

The study did find “significant increases in brain cancer incidence only in those aged 70 years or more,” but that increase began in 1982, five years before mobile phones arrived in Australia. Chapman therefore attributes that rise to better diagnosis, rather than the advent of a new cancer-inducing agent.

Chapman also tackles the argument that brain cancer rates will eventually increase, as exposure to mobile phones increases. His response, and that in the paper, is that for that argument to hold we should already be seeing an increased incidence of brain cancer. That we are not, and that phones emit non-ionising radiation that is not generally held to damage DNA, means he confidently puts his name to the assertion that mobile phones are not causing brain cancer and won't be shown to have done so in the future. ®


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