Oftedal G, Wilen J, Sandstrom M, Mild KH

This was a cross-sectional study. A questionnaire was sent to approximately 12,000 mobile phone (MP) users in Sweden and 5,000 in Norway. The number of people using GSM and NMT phones was approximately equal. The response rates to the questionnaires were 76% in Sweden and 64% in Norway. Thirty one per cent in Norway and 13% in Sweden had experienced at least one symptom in connection with MP use. The commonest symptoms were warmth on the ear and behind/around the ear, burning sensations in the facial skin, and headaches. Relatively few people had consulted a physician about the symptoms, but 45% of those who had a symptom had taken steps to reduce the symptom e.g. by reducing the calling time or starting to use hands-free equipment.

The authors suggest several possible reasons for the difference in frequency of symptoms in the two countries. These include a response bias in the Norwegian data, and the tendency of those in Norway to be younger and to have longer calling times. In addition, there may have been more public concern in Norway about possible health effects from mobile phones.

The authors caution that their findings do not necessarily imply a causal relationship between the use of the MP and the symptom. No control group was used, because the authors "expected a comparison between MP users and ordinary phone users to be biased due to the public concern for health effects related to MP use, and we had no mean to adjust for such a bias".


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