Mobile phone use and the risk of skin cancer: a nationwide cohort study in Denmark

Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Jul 15;178(2):190-7. doi: 10.1093/aje/kws426. Epub 2013 Jun 20.


The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified radiofrequency radiation as possibly carcinogenic. Previous studies have focused on intracranial tumors, although the skin receives much radiation. In a nationwide cohort study, 355,701 private mobile phone subscribers in Denmark from 1987 to 1995 were followed up through 2007. We calculated incidence rate ratios (IRRs) for melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma by using Poisson regression models adjusted for age, calendar period, educational level, and income. Separate IRRs for head/neck tumors and torso/leg tumors were compared (IRR ratios) to further address potential confounders. We observed no overall increased risk for basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or melanoma of the head and neck. After a follow-up period of at least 13 years, the IRRs for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma remained near unity. Among men, the IRR for melanoma of the head and neck was 1.20 (95% confidence interval: 0.65, 2.22) after a minimum 13-year follow-up, whereas the corresponding IRR for the torso and legs was 1.16 (95% confidence interval: 0.91, 1.47), yielding an IRR ratio of 1.04 (95% confidence interval: 0.54, 2.00). A similar risk pattern was seen among women, though it was based on smaller numbers. In this large, population-based cohort study, little evidence of an increased skin cancer risk was observed among mobile phone users.

Keywords: cohort studies; electromagnetic fields; head and neck neoplasms; skin neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / etiology
  • Cell Phone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Melanoma / epidemiology
  • Melanoma / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology*
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Radio Waves / adverse effects*
  • Registries
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology*