Mobile phones and brain tumours: a review of epidemiological research

Australas Phys Eng Sci Med. 2008 Dec;31(4):255-67. doi: 10.1007/BF03178595.


There has been a great deal of public concern regarding the possibility that the use of mobile phone-related technologies might result in adverse health effects. Corresponding to this, there has been substantial epidemiological research designed to determine whether the use of mobile phones (MP) has any effect on health, and in particular whether it increases the risk of developing head and neck tumours. Such literature is particularly heterogeneous, which makes it difficult to pool in a meta-analysis. This paper thus reviews the epidemiological literature pertaining to the use of mobile phones and mobile phone-related technologies, and head and neck tumours, in an attempt to consolidate the various reports. Although there have been individual reports of associations between MP-use and tumours, this research is not consistent and on balance does not provide evidence of an association. There are reports of small associations between MP-use ipsilateral to the tumour for greater than 10 years, for both acoustic neuroma and glioma, but the present paper argues that these are especially prone to confounding by recall bias. The reported associations are in need of replication with methods designed to minimise such bias before they can be treated as more than suggestive.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Cell Phone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Comorbidity
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Epidemiologic Studies*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Internationality
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / mortality*
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Survival Rate