Good news, everyone: here's a study that says your phone isn't giving you brain cancer

Illustration for article titled Good news, everyone: here's a study that says your phone isn't giving you brain cancer

It's being described as the largest study of cell phone use ever conducted. The investigation, led by the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen, followed upwards of 350,000 cell phone users for close to two decades. When all was said and done, the team found no link between mobile phone ownership and tumors of either the brain or central nervous system.


So why, exactly, is this a big deal? Well, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields (like the ones emitted by your cell phone) as a possible carcinogen. And the National Cancer Insitute recently released a fact sheet that issues a similar warning:

Cell phones emit radiofrequency energy, a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, which can be absorbed by tissues closest to where the phone is held.

This, of course, has led many people to question whether we should really be shoving cell phones against our heads all day every day.

But this new study dispells all those concerns, right? Not exactly. In fact, it appears there's still more than enough room for interpretation among oncology experts. For example, apparently saying that the study analyzed cell phone use isn't entirely accurate; the study looked at cell phone ownership, and made the jump of associating subscription with usage, at least according to this scathing critique of the study.

Is this the first time we've seen disagreements over a study like this? Of course not. Will it be the last? That's pretty unlikely — especially when the researchers conclude that "a small to moderate" risk posed by heavy cell phone use cannot be ruled out, and recommend further studies with even larger populations.


The article is published (and available free of charge) in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal
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Dr Emilio Lizardo

The WHO thing was really overblown since that classification system is basically useless. According to the WHO there is only one thing that is known to not cause cancer - acetominophen. That is the only thing in category 4 "Probably not carcinogenic to humans." The list is really pointless after category 1 and maybe 2a. Even then, many compounds in category 1 are extremely beneficial when used properly. tamoxifen is known to increase the risk of endometrial cancer so it is in category one. Yet it has saved logarithmically (many, many logs) more people than it has harmed.