Genotoxic and cytotoxic effects of mobile phone use on the oral epithelium: a systematic review with meta-analysis

Gen Dent. Nov-Dec 2020;68(6):70-74.

Abstract

The use of mobile phones is based on radiofrequency (RF) waves, and the devices act as transmitters and receivers of non-ionizing energy. The micronucleus test was developed to identify increases in the occurrence of mutations in cells exposed to various agents. This systematic review with meta-analysis adhered to the following protocol: defining the objective, outlining the search method (PICO model), conducting the search, identifying literature, selecting articles, and extracting data. The study aimed to answer the following research question: Does non-ionizing radiation emitted by mobile phones have genotoxic and/or cytotoxic effects on the oral epithelium? The search for evidence published 2009-2019 was conducted in the MEDLINE, PubMed, Scopus, LILACS, Google Scholar, PROSPERO, and Cochrane Library databases. The following inclusion criteria were defined: investigations of effects on the oral mucosa related to RF; investigations of cytotoxic and/or genotoxic effects; investigations involving humans; and investigations using cells exfoliated from the oral epithelium. Investigations related to the parotid gland were excluded. The search strategy found 464 articles; after application of the eligibility criteria, 358 abstracts were analyzed and 351 abstracts excluded. After 7 full texts were reviewed, 1 study was excluded. The 6 included studies were classified as level 5 quality of evidence (observational studies). The meta-analysis included 2 studies that compared the frequency of micronuclei on the side exposed to RF electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) to that on the unexposed side. The studies evaluated presented a low degree of evidence, but the meta- analysis indicated that no genotoxic effects are associated with mobile phone use. However, observations of other nuclear abnormalities in some studies suggest the occurrence of cytotoxic effects caused by exposure to the RF-EMFs emitted by mobile phones. More studies are necessary to prove or refute this association.

Keywords: mobile phone; mouth; mutagenicity tests; oral epithelium; radiofrequency waves; smartphone.