| GEO Health|
| Study cautions cellphone users|
| Updated at: 0742 PST, Tuesday, May 18, 2010|
JERUSALEM: The cellphone – which in recent years has become almost a bodily appendage – should be regarded with caution by its users, following the Monday release of findings from Interphone, the world’s longest and most comprehensive case-control study of the relationship between cellphone use and brain tumors.
The same caution should be taken with cordless phones, which emit the same radio frequency radiation, according to the top Israeli researcher in the study, Prof. Sigal Sidetzky.
The results of 10 years of research in 13 countries around the world, including Israel, were published by the International Journal of Epidemiology early Monday afternoon. Its publication was supposed to have been embargoed until 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, but soon after hush-hush press conferences in various parts of the world, including Sheba Medical Center’s Gertner Institute for Health Policy, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) lifted the embargo without explanation.
The researchers found a 40-percent higher prevalence of gliomas and meningiomas (two types of brain cancer) among adults who used cellphones for an average of 30 minutes a day for 10 years, but could not state whether there was a link – even though the malignancies were more often located on the side of the head where people held their cellphones. By way of comparison, the risk of lung cancer (and many other diseases) is 1,000% higher among smokers than non-smokers.
Sidetzky, director of the cancer and radiation epidemiology unit at Gertner, said in a briefing for health reporters there that the Interphone study “sets off red lights.” She has been working on the possible effects cellphones since 1998.
“The study did not produce results that are black and white. One cannot summarize them in a sentence; it is very complicated,” said the epidemiologist, who conceded later that she used a cellphone and would continue to use one while taking precautions to keep it as far away from her head and body as possible.
Radiation epidemiologist Prof. Elisabeth Cardis of Barcelona led a team of 21 researchers in 18 centers in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the UK. Over 5,000 people who had been diagnosed with gliomas and meningiomas were interviewed about their cellphone use and compared with a control group that had no brain tumors. It was not known from the outset how many people used cellphones and to what extent.