No association between mobile phone use and brain tumours in young people
There is no association between mobile phone use and brain tumours in young people. That is the conclusion of the largest study to date into the relationship between mobile phone use and the risk of brain tumours in young people. Professors Roel Vermeulen and Hans Kromhout (Utrecht University) collaborated on the research, which was published last week in the leading scientific journal Environment International.
More and more children are using mobile phones from an early age. These devices are a source of exposure to electromagnetic fields, mainly radiofrequency fields. There is concern in society that frequent use of mobile phones may increase the risk of brain tumours. Therefore, a European consortium led by Barcelona Institute for Global Health initiated the MOBI-Kids study in 2010.
899 young people with brain tumours
Scientists compared the data of 899 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 with a brain tumour with the data of 1910 healthy young people of the same sex and age. This was done in 14 countries, including the Netherlands. The results show that there is no connection between mobile phone use and brain tumours in young people. This is in line with what researchers have shown in the past with adults.
"This is the largest study of the relationship between mobile phone use and the risk of brain tumours in children, adolescents and young adults to date," says Roel Vermeulen, professor of Environmental Epidemiology and Exposome Analysis and involved in the study from Utrecht University. "Compared to previous research, we looked at a larger proportion of frequent mobile phone users. We also paid close attention to validating the participants' history of mobile phone use and modelling exposure to both radio and low-frequency fields. This study is a great collaboration between scientists, telecom experts, clinicians and epidemiologists in fourteen countries."
Research set up
Participants and parents in the study were interviewed about their mobile phone use and other possible sources of electromagnetic fields such as induction hobs, chargers and medical scans. To confirm the information on phone use from the interviews, two validation studies were conducted under the direction of Utrecht University. In the first study, participants were asked to install an application on their phones to record their use of the device for four weeks. A few months later, the study looked at how well people were able to report their mobile phone use. In the second study, all consenting participants (about 25%) had their phone usage data retrieved from their telecom provider and compared with what the participants themselves reported. "These two studies show that young adults are good at reporting their usage," says Hans Kromhout. "The quality of the information does not change in participants with a disorder. This is important because it allows us to exclude serious biases in the results."