October 19th, 2013

Two recent studies indicated there was no link between cell-phone use and brain cancer risk, butthese studies need a closer look. Upon closer inspection, there is a link between long-term cell-phone use and brain tumors—these findings were simply considered “not significant” enough for the researchers to promote.

The initial results of the first study indicated there was no increase in any cancers for women who used cell phones versus those who did not. However, when the study from the University of Oxford’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was more closely scrutinized, some connections were discovered.

The study followed nearly 800,000 middle-aged women for seven years. In that time, there were 51,680 invasive cancers and 1,261 cancers of the central nervous system. But when analyzing the data and looking at the women who reported using cell phones for over ten years, a 10% increase in meningioma risk was discovered. Also, the long-term use of cell phones was associated with an increased risk of acoustic neuroma. Both of these risks increased as cell phone use increased, meaning it was dose-dependent, validating causation.

In the second study, a small increased risk of meningioma was discovered with long term cell phone use. Again, the small increased risk was apparently not enough to alarm researchers. Still, the study looked at 709 meningioma patients and analyzed their cell phone use, finding an increased risk of 30% among those who used cell phones over a 25-year period.

In both studies, the researchers said they found “no conclusive evidence” of a link between cell phone use and brain cancer. How? “Conclusive evidence” is a term that doesn’t leave room for doubt. In both studies, there was a chance the brain cancers could have come from something other than cell phone use, despite the obvious links.

Perhaps more time or elimination of other potential risk factors could shore up future studies, but one shouldn’t be quick to discredit the associations that were found. Numerous other studies have found a link between cell phone use and increased risk of brain tumors, and this is especially true for children using cells phones (who are more vulnerable for multiple reasons).

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