Interpretation of Timetrends (1996-2017) of the Incidence of Selected Cancers in England in Relation to Mobile Phone Use as a Possible Risk Factor

Bioelectromagnetics. 2021 Dec;42(8):609-615. doi: 10.1002/bem.22375. Epub 2021 Oct 11.


Radiofrequency (RF) radiation from mobile phones has been classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans (2b) by IARC. However, to date, the discussion on whether mobile phone use is a cancer risk factor has not been solved. In this context of continuing uncertainty, it is important to continue to monitor cancer incidence trends. Annual incidence rates and directly age-standardized rates of selected cancers by sex and 5-year age groups for 1996 to 2017 for England were obtained from the UK Office for National Statistics. Interpretation in light of mobile phone use as a contributing risk factor was conducted for cancers of the brain, parotid gland, thyroid, and colorectal cancer, which have all been hypothesized to be associated with RF exposure. Brain and parotid gland cancers were updated by an additional 10 years following a previous publication, and continue to provide little evidence of an association with mobile phone use. Although mobile phone use as a potential risk factor contributing to increased incidence of colorectal or thyroid cancer could not be excluded based on these ecological data, it is implausible that it is an important risk factor for either. In the absence of clarity from epidemiological studies, it remains important to continue to monitor trends. However, for the time being, and in agreement with data from other countries, there is little evidence of an association between mobile phone use and brain or parotid gland cancer, while the hypotheses of associations with thyroid or colorectal cancer are similarly weak. © 2021 Bioelectromagnetics Society.

Keywords: RF; brain; cancer; cell phones; colorectal; ecological analyses; mobile phones; parotid; radiofrequency; thyroid.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms*
  • Cell Phone Use*
  • Cell Phone*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Radio Waves
  • Risk Factors