Using the Hill viewpoints from 1965 for evaluating strengths of evidence of the risk for brain tumors associated with use of mobile and cordless phones

Recently we published an article on use of mobile and cordless phones and the risk of brain tumors. It has been published in Reviews on Environmental Health (DOI 10.1515/reveh-2013-0006).

A summary (abstract) is given in the following.

 

Background: Wireless phones, i.e., mobile phones and

cordless phones, emit radiofrequency electromagnetic

fields (RF-EMF) when used. An increased risk of brain

tumors is a major concern. The International Agency for

Research on Cancer (IARC) at the World Health Organization

(WHO) evaluated the carcinogenic effect to humans

from RF-EMF in May 2011. It was concluded that RF-EMF

is a group 2B, i.e., a “possible”, human carcinogen. Bradford

Hill gave a presidential address at the British Royal

Society of Medicine in 1965 on the association or causation

that provides a helpful framework for evaluation of

the brain tumor risk from RF-EMF.

Methods: All nine issues on causation according to Hill

were evaluated. Regarding wireless phones, only studies

with long-term use were included. In addition, laboratory

studies and data on the incidence of brain tumors were

considered.

Results: The criteria on strength, consistency, specificity,

temporality, and biologic gradient for evidence of

increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma were

fulfilled. Additional evidence came from plausibility and

analogy based on laboratory studies. Regarding coherence,

several studies show increasing incidence of brain

tumors, especially in the most exposed area. Support for

the experiment came from antioxidants that can alleviate

the generation of reactive oxygen species involved in

biologic effects, although a direct mechanism for brain

tumor carcinogenesis has not been shown. In addition,

the finding of no increased risk for brain tumors in subjects

using the mobile phone only in a car with an external

antenna is supportive evidence. Hill did not consider all

the needed nine viewpoints to be essential requirements.

Conclusion: Based on the Hill criteria, glioma and acoustic

neuroma should be considered to be caused by RF-EMF

emissions from wireless phones and regarded as carcinogenic

to humans, classifying it as group 1 according to the

IARC classification. Current guidelines for exposure need

to be urgently revised.

Belgium to restrict use of mobile phones among children

More information is given below:

22/10/2013

Children’s mobile phones may no longer be sold. Besides this, the specific absorption rate (SAR) has to be listed for every mobile phone at the point of sale.

New regulation for the sale of mobile phones as of 2014

As of 1 March 2014, new regulations will apply to the sale of mobile phones. On the one hand the sale of mobile phones that have been specially manufactured for young children (under 7s) will be prohibited. On the other hand the SAR value will have to be listed everywhere where mobile phones are sold: in stores as well as for distance sales over the Internet.

Sale of children’s mobile phones prohibited

As of 1 March 2014, mobile phones that are specially designed for young children may no longer be introduced to the Belgian market. This concerns customised mobile telephones suitable for children younger than 7 years of age, for instance having few buttons and a shape attractive for children. Additionally, from this date forward, no advertising may be made for mobile phone use among the same age group.
The specific absorption rate (SAR) to become mandatory consumer information
When you purchase a new mobile phone, from now on you will be able to choose your new device based on the specific absorption rate (SAR). The SAR value is different for every mobile phone. The SAR value will have to be indicated along with the other technical specifications, not only in the shop, but also for distance sales over the Internet.

Why these measures?

As a precaution. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, 2011) there may be an increased risk of brain cancer due to the intensive use of a mobile phone. The IARC has therefore classified radio frequency as “possibly carcinogenic”. Measures are being taken pending clearer scientific conclusions. The intention is to raise awareness among mobile phone users.

You can reduce your average exposure by choosing a mobile phone with a lower SAR value. But it is not the intention to use it for hours at a time: the way in which you use your mobile phone also determines your exposure. Using an earpiece, text messaging and not phoning in places with poor reception are a few tips that can significantly reduce your exposure. You can find more tips on our page “sensible mobile phone use ”.

Children already come into contact with mobile phones from a very young age. The overall exposure during their lifetime will thus be greater than that of today’s adults. Moreover, children absorb more mobile phone radiation than adults (twice as much in the brain and 10 times more for skull bone marrow). This is already a reason for additional caution, given the classification of radio frequency as “possible carcinogenic” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Want to know more?

Then check out our list of frequently asked questions.
You can find more information about sensible mobile phone use and the IARC’s classification on this page.
You can download the Royal Decree on the ban of mobile phones for children here.
The Royal Decree which makes the mention of the SAR value mandatory for mobile phone sales and which prohibits advertising for children can be downloaded here.

http://www.health.belgium.be/eportal/19089508_EN#.UmpvaVO3Nad

 

Note that the classification Group 2B of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields holds for the whole radiofrequency frequency and not only mobile phones. Thus it included base-station antennas, Wi-Fi, smartmeters etc., see below:

Robert Baan, PhD, is the principal author of the 2011 IARC Monograph on the carcinogenicity of radiofrequency radiation. He provided this interpretation of the May 31, 2011 classification by IARC of RFR as a Possible Human Carcinogen (a 2B classification). Baan says that the IARC RFR classification as a Possible Human Carcinogen applies to all types of RFR exposures including smart meters.

“So the classification 2B, possibly carcinogenic, holds for all types of radiation within the radiofrequency part of the electromagnetic spectrum, including the radiation emitted by base-station antennas, radio/TV towers, radar, Wi-Fi, smart meters, etc.”

Use of wireless phones and the risk of meningioma

No consistent association between use of mobile phones and cordless phones and risk meningioma has been shown in previous studies by our research group in Sweden and the Interphone study at IARC (WHO).

We have now performed a new case-control study including patients with meningioma diagnosed between 2007-2009. Again this study did not show a consistent increased risk of meningioma for use of mobile and cordless phones. The latency time (time from first use of the phone until tumour diagnosis) was in this new study longer than previously, at most > 25 years.

Thus, in the same studies different risks have been found for different tumour types; increased risk for malignant brain tumours (mostly glioma) and acoustic neuroma but not for meningioma. These results clearly indicate that the results cannot be explained by systematic bias in the studies. The conclusion is that wireless phones cause malignant brain tumours and acoustic neuroma.

French Health Agency recommends reduced cell phone radiation exposure

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health (ANSES) has during two years work updated their evaluation of health effects from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF). It is stated that there is evidence for biological effects both in animals and humans. Also an increased risk for brain tumours has been shown in some studies after long-term use of mobile phones.

It is concluded that:

Given this information, and against a background of rapid development of technologies and practices, ANSES recommends limiting the population’s exposure to radiofrequencies – in particular from mobile phones – especially for children and intensive users, and controlling the overall exposure that results from relay antennas.”

The report can be found here.

It has also been commented by Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.

Increased risk for acoustic neuroma in a new Swedish study

A new Swedish published in International Journal of Oncology shows an increased risk for acoustic neuroma associated with use of wireless phones; both mobile phones and cordless desktop phones (DECT). The article is freely available on the Internet.

During two study periods, 1997-2003 and 2007-2009, cases with acoustic neuroma were interviewed regarding their total use of mobile phones and DECT. Also other agents were assessed. As reference entity population based controls were used. The questionnaire was answered by 316 cases (patients) and 3,530 controls.

The risk for acoustic neuroma increased with cumulative use in hours of wireless phones and latency (time from first use until diagnosis). This is illustrated in the figures below. Tumour volume increased with cumulative use and latency adding further relevance to the findings. These results confirm an increased risk for acoustic neuroma among users of both mobile phones and cordless phones.

Figure1_acoustic

 

Figure2_acoustic