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Long-term Cellular Use Not Clearly Associated With Increased Risk of Brain Tumors

En Español (Spanish Version)

Millions worldwide rely on cell phones to stay in touch. The rapid evolvement of this technology has brought some concern of health implications. Cell phones do emit a radio-frequency radiation. Although the radiation is very small, some experts are concerned, since the phones are held to the head, that there may be an increased chance of tumor growth. Early research has split experts on the risks of tumor development.

Researchers from the Department of Oncology at University Hospital in Sweden reviewed several studies on cell phone use and tumors. The results, published in the International Journal of Oncology , found that there was no significant association with cell phone use and overall tumor growth, but there was a pattern in ipsilateral (same side) tumor growth and cell phone use.

About the Study

The review looked at several, previously published case-control studies. The studies were split into reviews of gliomas , meningiomas , and acoustic neuromas .

With gliomas:

  • A review of 10 case-control studies found no significant overall association between cell phone use and gliomas.
  • A review of six studies found no significant increase in risk with cell phone use of 10 years or more.
  • A review of four studies found increased risk of gliomas with 10 or more years of ipsilateral use.

With meningiomas:

  • There was barely significant association with a decrease in overall risk.
  • A review of four studies showed no significant increase in risk with 10 or more years use.
  • Non-significant trend toward increase in risk with 10 or more years of ipsilateral use.

In cases reviewing acoustic neuroma:

  • A review of nine studies showed there was no significant association between cell phone use and brain tumors.
  • A review of three studies found an increased risk with ipsilateral use.

In both cases of increased risk, there was potential for recall bias. In recall bias the information had to be obtained through participants’ memory after they had been diagnosed. The diagnosis alone may affect how the participants remember details such as which side they use their cell phone.

How Does This Affect You?

More studies will be done to fully understand the long-term effects of exposure to waves from cell phone and other technology. There is currently a lack of evidence that cell phone use contributes to overall brain tumor development. Using headsets or speaker phones or texting are options that allow you to use a cell phone without having the radiation near your head.




  • Hardell L, Carlberg M, Soderqvist F, Hansson MK. Meta-analysis of long-term mobile phone use and the association with brain tumors. Int J Oncol . 2008 May;32(5):1097-103.

Last reviewed August 2008 by Larissa J. Lucas, MD

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