Estimating the risk of brain tumors from cellphone use: Published case-control studies

Pathophysiology. 2009 Aug;16(2-3):137-47. doi: 10.1016/j.pathophys.2009.01.009. Epub 2009 Apr 7.


This paper reviews the results of early cellphone studies, where exposure duration was too short to expect tumorigenesis, as well as two sets of more recent studies with longer exposure duration: the Interphone studies and the Swedish studies led by Dr. Lennart Hardell. The recent studies reach very different conclusions. With four exceptions the industry-funded Interphone studies found no increased risk of brain tumors from cellphone use, while the Swedish studies, independent of industry funding, reported numerous findings of significant increased brain tumor risk from cellphone and cordless phone use. An analysis of the data from the Interphone studies suggests that either the use of a cellphone protects the user from a brain tumor, or the studies had serious design flaws. Eleven flaws are identified: (1) selection bias, (2) insufficient latency time, (3) definition of 'regular' cellphone user, (4) exclusion of young adults and children, (5) brain tumor risk from cellphones radiating higher power levels in rural areas were not investigated, (6) exposure to other transmitting sources are excluded, (7) exclusion of brain tumor types, (8) tumors outside the cellphone radiation plume are treated as exposed, (9) exclusion of brain tumor cases because of death or illness, (10) recall accuracy of cellphone use, and (11) funding bias. The Interphone studies have all 11 flaws, and the Swedish studies have 3 flaws (8, 9 and 10). The data from the Swedish studies are consistent with what would be expected if cellphone use were a risk for brain tumors, while the Interphone studies data are incredulous. If a risk does exist, the public health cost will be large. These are the circumstances where application of the Precautionary Principle is indicated, especially if low-cost options could reduce the absorbed cellphone radiation by several orders of magnitude.