Analysis of cellphone studies finds tumor risk
Scientists looking at 23 studies involving almost 38,000 people initially see no connection. But a closer look at the highest-quality studies tells another story.
The answer to the question of whether cellphones increase the risk of brain, head and neck tumors is truly a matter of whom you ask.
An analysis published Tuesday of data from 23 epidemiological studies found no connection between cellphone use and the development of cancerous or benign tumors. But when eight of the studies that were conducted with the most scientific rigor were analyzed, cellphone users were shown to have a 10% to 30% increased risk of tumors compared with people who rarely or never used the phones. The risk was highest among those who had used cellphones for 10 years or more.
"The other group of 15 studies were not as high-quality," said study coauthor Joel M. Moskowitz, director of the UC Berkeley Center for Family and Community Health. "They either found no association or a negative association or a protective effect — which I don’t think anyone would have predicted."
The main message of the analysis, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is that studies should be conducted so that findings are harder to refute, he said.
In recent years, concerns have arisen that the radio-frequency energy emitted by cellphones may be high enough to cause tumors and other health problems. But the risks are hotly debated.
"I went into this really dubious that anything was going on," Moskowitz said. "Overall, you find no difference. But when you start teasing the studies apart and doing these subgroup analyses, you do find there is reason to be concerned." …
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