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Brain Cancer Health Center

Study: Cell Phones Don't Raise Brain Cancer Risk in Kids

Researchers See No Risk of Brain Cancer From Regular Use of Mobile Phones by Children and Teens
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Cell Phones and Kids

Roosli and his team looked at the medical records of 352 children and teens ages 7 to 19 who had been diagnosed with brain cancers.

In interviews, the researchers asked the youths and their parents about mobile phone use. Phone service providers also provided some information.

The youngsters were from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland.

For comparison, the researchers turned to 646 children and teens matched by country, age, and sex. They asked them for the same information.

Roosli took into account whether the youngsters used hands-free devices or not.

Among the results:

  • Regular users of mobile phones were not more likely to be diagnosed with brain cancers. While over 75% of the brain cancer patients had talked on a mobile phone more than 20 times before the diagnosis, 72% of the healthy young people had done so in the same time period.
  • Children who began to use cell phones at least five years earlier did not have a higher risk of brain cancer compared to nonusers.
  • A small subset of 24 brain cancer patients and 25 healthy youths had data from the phone providers. For these kids, Roosli found cancer risk was related to the amount of time the youth had a phone subscription, but not to the amount of use. This could be due to factors such as brain cancer patients being more diligent about getting information from providers, Roosli tells WebMD.
  • The parts of the brain with the highest exposure to the phone's radio-frequency waves were not linked with an increased risk of brain cancer among regular users.

The incidence of brain cancers has not risen over the last 20 years in countries with widespread cell phone use, Roosli says. The further refutes a link, he says.

Even so, he says, cancer registries should continue to monitor trends in cancer rates.

Risk and Reassurance

"It's reassuring," says Robert Tarone, PhD, biostatistics director of the International Epidemiology Institute in Rockville, Md., and professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

He co-authored an editorial to accompany the study.

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