Muscat JE, Malkin MG, Thompson ST, Shore RE, et al

In this case-control study 469 men and women with brain cancer were matched with 422 controls without brain cancer. The cases were diagnosed as having brain cancer within the past year, and were patients in 5 US academic centres. The controls were inpatients from the same hospitals as the cases. The participants were interviewed between 1994 and 1998. Information was obtained about cellular telephone use, minutes/hours per month, year of first use, manufacturer, and reported average monthly bill. Other questionnaire items included demographics, smoking history, alcohol consumption, exposure to power frequency fields, occupation, and medical history. Details of the type and location of brain cancer were obtained. The median monthly hours of use were 2.5 for cases and 2.2 for controls. The odds ratio (OR) for use was 0.85. In other words, cases with brain cancer were less likely to use cell phones than controls were. The OR for infrequent users was 1.0 and for frequent users was 0.7. No association with brain cancer was seen according to duration of use. Tumours were slightly more likely to occur on the same side of the head where telephones had been held. This was not the case, however, in tumours of the temporal lobe, the area closest to where the telephone would be located. Cellular telephone use was more common (OR =2.1) in one uncommon type of cancer, the neuroepitheliomatous cancers, though this was not quite statistically significant. The authors state that this group of cancers can be easily misclassified, and confused with other types of brain cancer.

The authors conclude that "use of handheld cellular telephones is not associated with risk of brain cancer, bur further studies are needed to account for longer induction periods, especially for slow-growing tumors".

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