Skip to content

    Brain Cancer Health Center

    Font Size

    Cell Phones: No Link to Brain Tumors

    British Study Shows No Increased Risk for Cell Phone Users
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Jan. 20, 2006 -- Do cell phones cause brain tumors? The question has been asked since the phones first arrived on the scene, and now one of the largest studies ever to examine the issue shows that the answer is no.

    The new report is in line with most other large studies and should reassure the hundreds of millions of regular cell phone users around the world.

    But questions remain about the safety of long-term cell phone use, since the studies reported to date have followed subjects for no more than a decade.

    Other Brain Diseases

    And it is not yet clear if the phones raise the risk of other brain and central nervous system diseases, says Christoffer Johansen, MD, PhD, who has long studied cell phone use along with colleagues from the Danish Cancer Society.

    "What we can say is that we now know that people who have used mobile phones for 10 years or less do not seem to be at increased risk for the most commonly seen brain tumors," he tells WebMD.

    "But we don't know very much about usage for more than 10 years, or whether or not mobile phones are associated with other brain diseases like Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis."

    In the new study, researchers compared the cell phone usage histories of 966 patients with glioma-type brain tumors with 1,716 people without tumors matched for age, sex, and place of residence.

    The four-year investigation included people living in urban and rural locations within England and Scotland. It is reported in the Jan. 21 issue of BMJ.

    "This was a highly representative sample of the population of the U.K.," researcher Patricia McKinney, PhD, tells WebMD.

    Rural vs. Urban Users

    People who reported using cell phones regularly had no greater overall risk of developing brain tumors then those who reported infrequent use, she says. Neither total years of cell phone use nor total hours of use were found to influence risk.

    At least one previous study suggested that regular cell phone users in rural areas were more likely to develop brain tumors than city-dwelling cell phone users. But the U.K. study did not back this up.

    Likewise, no increase in risk was seen among regular users of first-generation cell phones, which used high-power-emitting analog signals rather than digital signals.

    Today on WebMD

    doctor and patient
    How to know when it’s time for home care
    doctory with x-ray
    Here are 10 to know.
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
    Malignant Gliomas
    Pets Improve Your Health
    Headache Emergencies
    life after a brain tumor

    Would you consider trying alternative or complementary therapies?