In 1999, Sharesa Price, a cell phone programmer in Northern Calif. became violently ill. Her head and eyes hurt and she couldn’t quit vomiting. Hours after a trip to her doctor Price learned she had a brain tumor. In 2005, she became the first United States citizen to convince a judge that her brain cancer was caused by cell phone exposure.
Since the mid-1990s, numerous studies have investigated the relationship between cellular telephone use and the risk of developing malignant and benign brain tumors. The latest of those major studies—conducted by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer— is being published today in the International Journal of Epidemiology. The study found the cell phone-cancer link to be inconclusive.
Dubbed the Interphone Study, it surveyed nearly 13,000 participants over 10 years and found most cell phone use didn't increase the risk of developing meningioma — a common and frequently benign tumor — or glioma — a rare but deadlier form of cancer.
As of 2009, there were 1.6 billion cell phone users worldwide, according to International Telecommunication Union annual report. Globally, cell phone users are expected to reach a staggering 4.5 billion by 2012. Health concerns have been raised about cell phones due to the radio-frequency waves they emit. With respect to cancer, concern focuses on whether cell phones might increase the risk of brain tumors or other tumors in the head and neck area.
According to the Interphone International Study Group, there were “suggestions” that heavy cell phone users—those chatting for more than 30 minutes each day— could increase their risk of glioma by as much as 89 percent.
Jack Siemiatycki, a professor at the University of Montreal and an epidemiologist at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center collaborated in the Interphone Study. He called the findings “paradoxical.”
“If we combine all users and compare them with non-users, the Interphone Study found no increase in brain cancer among users. In fact, surprisingly, we found that when we combine users independently of the amount of use, they had lower brain cancer risks than non-users.