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08 December 2009

Cellphones don’t cause brain cancer, but ...

The latest study by Nordic researchers has found that there is no apparent link between cellphones and brain cancer.

China’s Xinhua news agency reported the finding, citing the online edition of the journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology at the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen based their conclusion on a 30-year examination of the incidents of brain tumours in Scandinavia.

For the study, the researchers collected data on 60,000 people diagnosed with glioma and meningioma in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden between 1974 and 2003, Xinhua said.

The researchers found that the incidence of brain tumours over this period were stable, starting before cellphones became popular.

In addition, there was no change in the incidence of brain tumours between 1998 and 2003, a period of rapid increase in cellphone usage, the researchers noted.

“If mobile phones were to cause brain tumours, we would expect to see a sudden rise in the number of brain tumours at some point in time, and we don’t see it,“ said lead researcher Isabelle Deltour.

However, Deltour leaves the door open to the possibility that widespread cellphone use has not been around long enough to see an increase in brain tumours.

“Either it means that mobile phones don’t cause brain tumours or it means that we don’t see it yet or we don’t see it because the increase is too small to be observed in this population, or it is a risk that is limited to a small subgroup of the population,” she said.

Despite new findings, doubts linger about whether cellphones cause brain cancer.

Commenting on that study, Dr Deepa Subramaniam, director of the Brain Tumor Center at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C., said: “We cannot make any definitive conclusions about this.

“But this study, in addition to all the previous studies, continues to leave lingering doubt as to the potential for increased risk. So, one more time, after all these years, we don’t have a clearcut answer.”

Deltour said her team will continue to look at the rates of brain tumours in the study group. — Bernama

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