Acoustic Neuroma
No substantial risk of acoustic neuroma with mobile phone use
Sep 4, 2005 - 8:16:38 PM

Scientists from the institute of cancer research in University of Leeds have recently published results from the largest investigation to date into the relationship between mobile phone use and the risk of acoustic neuroma, a nervous system tumour that occurs close to where mobile phones are held to the head.

The study suggests there is no substantial risk of this tumour in the first 10 years after starting mobile phone use. However, an increased risk after longer term use could not be ruled out.

The study – published online today in the British Journal of Cancer – was conducted in the UK, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, which are countries where mobile phones were introduced particularly early. Researchers included the University of Leeds’ reader in paediatric epidemiology Professor Patricia McKinney.

Data were collected from 678 people with acoustic neuroma and 3,553 people who did not have acoustic neuroma ('controls'). Participants were asked in detail about their past mobile phone use (for instance length and frequency of calls, makes and models of phones used, and extent of hands-free use), and also about other factors that might affect their risk of acoustic neuroma.

Acoustic neuromas are benign tumours that grow in the nerve that connects the ear and inner ear to the brain. They often cause loss of hearing in the affected ear and inner ear and a loss of balance. However, acoustic neuromas are usually slow-growing and do not spread to other parts of the body.

The study found no relation between the risk of acoustic neuroma and the number of years for which mobile phones had been used, the time since first use, the total hours of use or the total number of calls, nor were there any relations separately for analogue or digital phone use. There was relatively little information, and the results did not give a clear interpretation, for the risk of tumours after use of a phone for 10 years or longer.

The senior investigator at the institute of cancer research, Professor Anthony Swerdlow, said: “There has been public concern about whether there is a link between brain cancer risk and use of mobile phones. The risk of acoustic neuroma is of particular interest in this context because of the proximity of the acoustic nerve to the handset. The results of our study suggest that there is no substantial risk in the first decade after starting use. Whether there are longer-term risks remains unknown, reflecting the fact that this is a relatively recent technology”.

Professor Peter Rigby, chief executive of the institute of cancer research said: “Mobile phones have only been used widely over the past decade so we won’t know the long term effects for many years. However, the results of this multi-country study with such a large number of participants is a great step forward in our understanding of the possible health effects of mobile phones.”

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