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Cell Phone Users May Still Be At Risk for Brain Cancer

Cell Phone Users May Still Be At Risk for Brain Cancer

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

In their report, the Swedish team explains that handheld cell phones increase exposure of the brain to microwaves, particularly to the side of the head favored by the cell phone user. Statistical analysis indicated a rise in associated risk for brain tumors in the anatomic areas that received the highest doses of microwaves—ie, the temporal, temporoparietal, and occipital lobes of the brain. The risk from cell phones increased significantly when an adjustment was made for other risk factors, including 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 anatomic areas of the brain used cell phones manufactured with the older analog technology that was associated with greater power output.

Diligent Testing

The study, conducted over 2 years in two regions of Sweden, evaluated 233 patients with verified brain tumors. Each patient was matched to two controls (466 in total) based on similar gender, age, and geography. Of the 233 patients, 8 had recurrent brain tumors and were excluded from the study together with their matched controls. The patients and controls were evaluated for exposure to a variety of possible cancer risks through questionnaires and telephone interviews.

The statistical analysis was based on answers from 209 patients and 425 controls. Other risks examined in the 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.

Dr. George D. Lundberg, editor-in-chief of MedGenMed and its parent company, Medscape, Inc, said, “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.”

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