Background: Use of cell phones has increased dramatically since 1992 when they were first introduced in France. Certain electromagnetic fields (at extremely low frequency) have been recognized as possibly carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Given the use of radiofrequency technology in cell phones, the rapid increase in the number of cell phones has generated concerns about the existence of a potential health hazard. To evaluate the relationship between the use of cell phones and the development of tumors of the head, a multicentric international study (INTERPHONE), coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, was carried out in 13 countries. This publication reports the results of the French part of the INTERPHONE study.
Methods: INTERPHONE is a case-control study focused on tumors of the brain and central nervous system: gliomas, meningiomas and neuromas of cranial nerves. Eligible cases were men and women, residents of Paris or Lyon, aged 30-59, newly diagnosed with a first primary tumor between February 2001 and August 2003. The diagnoses were all either histologically confirmed or based upon unequivocal radiological images. Controls were matched for gender, age (+/-5 years) and place of residence. They were randomly drawn from electoral rolls. Detailed information was collected for all subjects during a computer-assisted face-to-face interview. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) for an association between the use of cell phones and risk of each type of cancer.
Results: Regular cell phone use was not associated with an increased risk of neuroma (OR=0,92; 95% confidence interval=[0.53-1.59]), meningioma (OR=0,74; 95% confidence interval=[0.43-1.28]) or glioma (OR=1.15; 95% confidence interval=[0.65-2.05]). Although these results are not statistically significant, a general tendency was observed for an increased risk of glioma among the heaviest users: long-term users, heavy users, users with the largest numbers of telephones.
Conclusion: No significant increased risk for glioma, meningioma or neuroma was observed among cell phone users participating in Interphone. The statistical power of the study is limited, however. Our results, suggesting the possibility of an increased risk among the heaviest users, therefore need to be verified in the international INTERPHONE analyses.