Background: Concern has arisen that the use of hand-held cellular telephones might cause brain tumors. If such a risk does exist, the matter would be of considerable public health importance, given the rapid increase worldwide in the use of these devices.
Methods: We examined the use of cellular telephones in a case-control study of intracranial tumors of the nervous system conducted between 1994 and 1998. We enrolled 782 patients through hospitals in Phoenix, Arizona; Boston; and Pittsburgh; 489 had histologically confirmed glioma, 197 had meningioma, and 96 had acoustic neuroma. The 799 controls were patients admitted to the same hospitals as the patients with brain tumors for a variety of nonmalignant conditions.
Results: As compared with never, or very rarely, having used a cellular telephone, the relative risks associated with a cumulative use of a cellular telephone for more than 100 hours were 0.9 for glioma (95 percent confidence interval, 0.5 to 1.6), 0.7 for meningioma (95 percent confidence interval, 0.3 to 1.7), 1.4 for acoustic neuroma (95 percent confidence interval, 0.6 to 3.5), and 1.0 for all types of tumors combined (95 percent confidence interval, 0.6 to 1.5). There was no evidence that the risks were higher among persons who used cellular telephones for 60 or more minutes per day or regularly for five or more years. Tumors did not occur disproportionately often on the side of head on which the telephone was typically used.
Conclusions: These data do not support the hypothesis that the recent use of hand-held cellular telephones causes brain tumors, but they are not sufficient to evaluate the risks among long-term, heavy users and for potentially long induction periods.