Mobile phones, brain tumors, and the interphone study: where are we now?

Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Nov;119(11):1534-8. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1103693.


Background: In the past 15 years, mobile telephone use has evolved from an uncommon activity to one with > 4.6 billion subscriptions worldwide. However, there is public concern about the possibility that mobile phones might cause cancer, especially brain tumors.

Objectives: We reviewed the evidence on whether mobile phone use raises the risk of the main types of brain tumor—glioma and meningioma—with a particular focus on the recent publication of the largest epidemiologic study yet: the 13-country Interphone Study.

Discussion: Methodological defcits limit the conclusions that can be drawn from the Interphone study, but its results, along with those from other epidemiologic, biological, and animal studies and brain tumor incidence trends, suggest that within about 10–15 years after first use of mobile phones there is unlikely to be a material increase in the risk of brain tumors in adults. Data for childhood tumors and for periods beyond 15 years are currently lacking.

Conclusions: Although there remains some uncertainty, the trend in the accumulating evidence is increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bias
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Phone*
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Glioma / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meningioma / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Assessment