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Epidemiological Study (case-control study)

Mobile phone use, exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic field, and brain tumour: a case-control study. epidemiol.

By: Takebayashi T, Varsier N, Kikuchi Y, Wake K, Taki M, Watanabe S, Akiba S, Yamaguchi N
Published in: Br J Cancer 2008; 98 (3): 652 - 659 (PubMed | Journal website)

Aim of study (according to author)
The relation between mobile phone use and brain tumor was investigated in a population-based case-control study in Japan. The study is part of the INTERPHONE project.
Background/further details:
Regular mobile phone use was defined as use at least once a week for 6 months one year before diagnosis. Exposure was assessed by following the protocol of the INTERPHONE study using a questionnaire. Furthermore, a new approach was used for estimating the specific absorption rate (SAR) inside the tumor based on a head model taking account of spatial relationships between tumor localisation and intracranial radiofrequency distribution (Nagaoka et al, 2004). Three SAR-derived exposure indices (mean maximal SAR, cumulative maximal SAR-year, and cumulative maximal SAR-hour) were calculated and categorized in four quartiles.

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Estimate of incidence by odds ratio (OR)


groups of exposure:

Reference group 1:  mobile phone use: non-user  
group 2:  mobile phone use: regular user  
Reference group 3:  cumulative length of use in years: non-user 
group 4:  cumulative length of use in years: lowest 
group 5:  cumulative length of use in years: mid-low 
group 6:  cumulative length of use in years: mid-high 
group 7:  cumulative length of use in years: highest 
Reference group 8:  cumulative call time in hours: non-user 
group 9:  cumulative call time in hours: lowest 
group 10:  cumulative call time in hours: mid-low 
group 11:  cumulative call time in hours: mid-high 
group 12:  cumulative call time in hours: highest 
Reference group 13:  type of mobile phone used: non-user 
group 14:  type of mobile phone used: analog and digital 
group 15:  type of mobile phone used: digital 
Reference group 16:  tumor laterality and side of mobile phone use: no or contralateral use 
group 17:  tumor laterality and side of mobile phone use: ipsilateral 
Reference group 18:  tumor laterality and side of mobile phone use: no or ipsilateral use 
group 19:  tumor laterality and side of mobile phone use: contralateral 
Reference group 20:  mean maximal SAR: non-exposed 
group 21:  mean maximal SAR: lowest 
group 22:  mean maximal SAR: mid-low 
group 23:  mean maximal SAR: mid-high 
group 24:  mean maximal SAR: highest 
Reference group 25:  mean maximal SAR: non-exposed 
group 26:  mean maximal SAR: < 0.001 W/kg 
group 27:  mean maximal SAR: 0.001 - 0.01 W/kg 
group 28:  mean maximal SAR: ≥ 0.01 W/kg 
Reference group 29:  cumulative maximal SAR-year: non-exposed 
group 30:  cumulative maximal SAR-year: lowest 
group 31:  cumulative maximal SAR-year: mid-low 
group 32:  cumulative maximal SAR-year: mid-high 
group 33:  cumulative maximal SAR-year: highest 
Reference group 34:  cumulative maximal SAR-year: non-exposed 
group 35:  cumulative maximal SAR-year: < 0.001 W/kg 
group 36:  cumulative maximal SAR-year: 0.001 - 0.01 W/kg 
group 37:  cumulative maximal SAR-year: 0.01 - 0.1 W/kg 
group 38:  cumulative maximal SAR-year: ≥ 0.1 W/kg 
Reference group 39:  cumulative maximal SAR-hour: non-exposed 
group 40:  cumulative maximal SAR-hour: lowest 
group 41:  cumulative maximal SAR-hour: mid-low 
group 42:  cumulative maximal SAR-hour: mid-high 
group 43:  cumulative maximal SAR-hour: highest 
Reference group 44:  cumulative maximal SAR-hour: non-exposed 
group 45:  cumulative maximal SAR-hour: < 0.1 W/kg 
group 46:  cumulative maximal SAR-hour: 0.1 - 1 W/kg 
group 47:  cumulative maximal SAR-hour: 1 - 10 W/kg 
group 48:  cumulative maximal SAR-hour: ≥ 10 W/kg 


Further parameters acquired by questionnaire (demographical variables, medical history, occupational history)

Study size i cases  controls 
number eligible 4551,122
number participating 322683

Other: glioma: 88 cases; meningioma: 132 cases; pituitary adenoma: 102 cases

Statistical analysis using conditional logistic regression (adjusted for age, sex, educational level, marital status)

Results/conclusion (according to author)
No consistent increase was observed in the overall risk of glioma, meningioma and pituitary adenoma among mobile phone users. No increasing trend in risk in relation to cumulative length of use or cumulative call time was foung. The results of the SAR-derived exposure indices also showed no substantial increased risk for glioma or meningioma.

(Study character: epidemiological study, case-control study)

Study funded by

Published comment on this article:Related articles i
Glossary: analog, brain tumor, case-control study, conditional logistic regression, cordless phone, cumulative, diagnosis, digital, epidemiological, exposure, frequency, glioma, histopathologically, incidence, Interphone, intracranial, matching, mean, medical history, meningioma, mobile communication, mobile phone, OR, PDC, PHS, pituitary adenoma, population-based, quartiles, questionnaire, radiofrequency, risk, SAR, statistical, trend, tumor
Exposure: mobile communication system, analog mobile phone, digital mobile phone, PDC, PHS, cordless phone, personal exposure

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