New results from Interphone confirm glioma risk associated with use of mobile phones

The Interphone study included 13 countries during the study period 2000 – 2004. The major results were published after a delay of 6 years in 2010. In a new publication 12 years after the study period, the intracranial distribution of glioma in relation to radiofrequency (RF) radiation from mobile phones was analyzed. Tumour localization for 792 regular mobile phone users was analyzed in relation to distance from preferred ear for mobile phone use.

In Table 2 five categories for the distance were used with > 115.01 mm as the reference category (α = 1.0).  An association with distance from preferred side of mobile phone use to center of tumour was found; the closer the distance the higher the risk. The highest risk was found in the group with the closest distance (0-55 mm) yielding α = 2.37, 95 % Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.56-4.56.

The same association was seen if distance was based on point with highest Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) instead of preferred ear and if using a model assuming that the preferred side of phone use was not exclusively used (“mixing proportion”). The latter model generated higher risk estimates than the other two but with wider confidence intervals.

In Table 3 tumour size, duration of phone use, cumulative phone use, cumulative number of calls were analyzed. Although not statistically significant, higher risks with decreasing distance were found in the upper levels of these dichotomized covariates.

α and 95 % CI in shortest distance group 0-55 mm from preferred ear to tumour center

Tumour size                        α                    95 % CI

≤18 cm3                              1.96               1.51 – 3.66

18 cm3                                4.09               1.90 – 12.0

Duration of phone use

<6 years                              2.02               1.31 – 4.28

≥6 years                              3.27               1.92 – 11.3

Cumulative phone use

<200 hours                          1.57                1.29 – 3.36

≥200 hours                          4.06                2.03 – 11.6

Cumulative number of calls

<4,000                                 1.55                  1.25 – 3.42

≥4,000                                 3.56                 2.05 – 9.88

The authors concluded that ‘Taken together, our results suggest that ever using a mobile phone regularly is associated with glioma localization in the sense that more gliomas occurred closer to the ear on the side of the head where the mobile phone was reported to have been used the most. However, this trend was not related to amount of mobile phone use, making it less likely that the association observed is caused by a relationship between mobile phone use and cancer risk.’

The first part although correct is misleading. The correct statement would be that the risk was highest for glioma closer to the ear as would be expected based on the exposure to RF radiation. The last sentence should have indicated that although not statistically significant, the risk was highest in the group with longest duration of phone use, highest cumulative phone use and number of calls. This is a pattern one would expect if there is an association between mobile phone use and glioma.

A similar tendency to not correctly downplaying the association is found in the abstract: ‘The association was independent of the cumulative call time and cumulative number of calls.’ Since many persons read only the abstract, as also presented in PubMed, correct presentation of the results including αs and 95 % CIs would have been more relevant.

The correct interpretation of this study is simply that it confirms an increased risk for glioma associated with mobile phone use.


Footnote: The α values represent the change in risk of observing a tumor within the given interval in comparison with the baseline intensity.


10 thoughts on “New results from Interphone confirm glioma risk associated with use of mobile phones

  1. Pingback: New results from Interphone confirm glioma risk associated with use of mobile phones | Smart Meter News

  2. Is anybody yelling this from the mountain tops? How much research does there need to be before those who control our exposures begin to take notice and stop the massive exposures of our kids and our planet. Cancer causing radiation should not be forced on anyone–especially at these levels. There is no place to be unexposed anymore so all the more reason this should be looked at promptly by our regulatory agencies and taken very VERY seriously.

  3. Dear Lennart
    thanks for this report and explanation.
    Do you happen to have a link to the full study?
    Thanks and best regards
    Amir Borenstein

  4. 2 more questions, if you be so kind.

    1. By “The association was independent of the cumulative call time and cumulative number of calls” do they mean the “lack of trend” that appeared in the original study(table 2 ) of the glioma risk?
    Have they forgot to note that possible cause for this “lack of trend” was because a bias in the control group and other statistical problems as explained and fixed in the study appendixes 1&2?

    2. If the data on this study is based on the “Regular User” , what happened to the data from the “heavy users”, those that used the phone for more then 1670 hours over 10 ( 27 minutes per day)? Way is this group is not included in the study? Was this group too small? or was the evidence too strong?
    Thanks in advance.
    Amir B.

    • 1. No, they are referring to the new study (2016). As I wrote, this is to downplay the associations
      found for duration of phone use, cumulative phone use and cumulative number of calls (although
      not statistically significant, highest risk was found for longest/highest use which is the expected
      pattern for an association with mobile phone use and glioma). Controls were not included in this

      2. As you correctly point out, cumulative use ≥1,640 hours was not analysed in this new study – they
      only divided cumulative use according to the median (<200, ≥200 hours) where the highest risk was
      found for the highest exposure. The reason for not analysing ≥1,640 hours might be that the group
      was small – still it would have been interesting with results presented to see if the risk was even higher
      in that group (even if the precision of the result would be lower due to fewer individuals in the group).

  5. Dear sir Lennart Hardell.
    Do you have Any thoughts on Why Babies today get born, already with Brain Cancer?
    They have personally Never used a mobile, but most of the parents have and do all the time in the home, as well as having a Wi-Fi system in the home, so irradiating the baby in the womb 24/7/365 !
    If you have any thoughts about this at all, please let us know, as the brain cancer in children in the UK has gone up by 17% and death by same by 27%.
    And if there is a link the parents Need to be warned, and no-one does, as this system is being
    encouraged as Vital, as is Wi-Fi in the homes, businesses and everywhere else, as Vital to Modern Working ability.
    Please let me know.
    Best regards.

    • This is a very important comment.
      Data on brain cancer among children should be studied, especially among newborn.
      No such studies on newborn exist in Sweden. In 2004 we published a study on the increasing
      incidence of childhood cancer in Sweden.
      Regarding brain tumours (central nervous system) the incidence increased yearly statistically significant during
      1960-1998 in the age group 0-14 years with 1.45 % (95 % confidence interval +1.02, +1.88.
      A further step would be to study use of wireless devices among the mothers to babies with brain cancer.

      In a case-control study on brain tumours among patients aged 7-19 years at the time of diagnosis an elevated risk
      was found based on operator recorded use of mobile phone; OR = 2.15, 95 % CI = 1.07-4.29 in the longest latency group
      > 2.8 years (Aydin et al 2011).
      The result was based on only 24 exposed cases and 25 exposed controls. The Mobi-kids study on brain tumours in children
      and use of mobile phones is under way and results would be expected within one year.
      You may contact the key person Elisabeth Cardis for more details.

  6. In a northern town of Spain in a very small town of 10 neighbours two woman developed brain tumour, one of them in her 70’s they had to extract part of her brain, she was left like a car without the gear box, another woman had a road accident, she felt, the Guardia Civil has come on site, the ambulance had to come also, she was taken to the hospital and during the scanner they found a brain tumour in her brain, she used a mobile phone too, this last lady she’s in her 30’s, so in a village of 10 neighbours two of them developed brain tumour, stay away from the mobile phone or he will kill you !.

  7. Pingback: Lennart Hardell: comments on new results from Interphone | BRHP – Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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