Cell phone use and acoustic neuroma: the need for standardized questionnaires and access to industry data

Surg Neurol. 2009 Sep;72(3):216-22; discussion 222. doi: 10.1016/j.surneu.2009.01.010. Epub 2009 Mar 27.


Background: The capacity of radiofrequency from cell phones to be absorbed into the brain has prompted concerns that regular cell phone use may increase the risk of acoustic neuroma (AN) and other brain tumors. This article critically evaluates current literature on cell phone use and AN risks and proposes additional studies to clarify any possible linkage.

Methods: Through a PubMed search, we identified and reviewed 10 case-control studies and 1 cohort study of AN risks associated with cell phone use and a meta-analysis of long-term mobile phone use and its association with AN and other brain tumors.

Results: Most studies did not find association between the development of AN and cell phone use, but some studies that followed cases for 10 years or more did show an association. Among 10 case-control studies, odds ratios for AN associated with regular cell phone use ranged from 0.5 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.2-1.0) to 4.2 (95% CI, 1.8-10). Cell phone use was not associated with increased risk for AN in the Danish cohort study, which excluded business users from their study. The meta-analysis, which included 3 case-control studies, found that subjects who used cell phones for at least 10 years had a 2.4-fold greater risk of developing ipsilateral AN. In general, retrospective studies are limited in the ability to assess cell phone exposure because of recall bias and misclassification.

Conclusions: The evaluation of AN risk factors is challenging due to its long latency. Some studies of longer term cell phone use have found an increased risk of ipsilateral AN. Adopting a prospective approach to acquire data on cell phone use, obtaining retrospective billing records that provide independent evaluations of exposures, and incorporating information on other key potential risk factors from questionnaires could markedly advance the capacity of studies to evaluate the impact of cell phones on AN.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / radiation effects*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Brain Neoplasms / etiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Phone*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Glioma / epidemiology
  • Glioma / etiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Industry
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Meningioma / epidemiology
  • Meningioma / etiology
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / epidemiology*
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / etiology*
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / surgery
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Radiation*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires* / standards
  • Technology / trends
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology