Background: The use of cellular and cordless telephones has increased dramatically during the last decade. There is concern of health problems such as malignant diseases due to microwave exposure during the use of these devices. The brain is the main target organ.
Methods: Since the second part of the 1990's we have performed six case-control studies on this topic encompassing use of both cellular and cordless phones as well as other exposures. Three of the studies concerned brain tumours, one salivary gland tumours, one non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and one testicular cancer. Exposure was assessed by self-administered questionnaires.
Results: Regarding acoustic neuroma analogue cellular phones yielded odds ratio (OR) = 2.9, 95 % confidence interval (CI) = 2.0-4.3, digital cellular phones OR = 1.5, 95 % CI = 1.1-2.1 and cordless phones OR = 1.5, 95 % CI = 1.04-2.0. The corresponding results were for astrocytoma grade III-IV OR = 1.7, 95 % CI = 1.3-2.3; OR = 1.5, 95 % CI = 1.2-1.9 and OR = 1.5, 95 % CI = 1.1-1.9, respectively. The ORs increased with latency period with highest estimates using > 10 years time period from first use of these phone types. Lower ORs were calculated for astrocytoma grade I-II. No association was found with salivary gland tumours, NHL or testicular cancer although an association with NHL of T-cell type could not be ruled out.
Conclusion: We found for all studied phone types an increased risk for brain tumours, mainly acoustic neuroma and malignant brain tumours. OR increased with latency period, especially for astrocytoma grade III-IV. No consistent pattern of an increased risk was found for salivary gland tumours, NHL, or testicular cancer.