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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Inconclusive Verdict About Cellphones and Brain Tumors

After spending 10 years and $24 million to see whether cell phone use leads to brain cancer, the World Health Organization has reached a verdict: it's not quite sure.

In a decade-long survey of nearly 13,000 people across 13 countries, the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that most cell phone use did not lead to an increased risk of either meningioma, a common but typically benign form of cancer, or glioma, a rare but more dangerous type of brain cancer.
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Peter DaSilva for The New York Times
By TARA PARKER-POPE

A long-awaited study of cellphone use and brain health has finally been released, but the data are raising more questions than answers.

The report is called Interphone, a 13-country study that amounts to the largest and longest study of whether extensive cellphone use increases risk for brain tumors. The study results, published in The International Journal of Epidemiology, were delayed by four years, reportedly after researchers disagreed over how to present the results.

The final paper states that overall there is no link between cellphone use and brain tumors. However, the investigators report that study participants with the highest level of cellphone use had a 40 percent higher risk for a type of brain tumor called a glioma. That risk, though, is discounted because of potential “biases and errors” that “prevent a causal interpretation,” the investigators wrote.

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