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Heavy mobile telephone use and brain tumours

13 May 2014 | By Inserm (Newsroom) | France

Findings from the study of mobile telephone use and the development of brain tumours have been published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine

The effect of electromagnetic radio frequencies on humans remains controversial. Researchers from Inserm Unit 897, “Epidemiology and Biostatistics” (ISPED) in Bordeaux, have analysed the association between exposure to mobile telephone radio frequencies and glioma and meningioma type brain tumours in adults.

The researchers present the results of the case-control multicentre study CERENAT, published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, conducted in 4 areas in France (Gironde, Calvados and Manche, and Hérault) and initiated in 2004. In all, data for mobile telephone exposure and medical data on 1339 people with a mean age of 59 years were studied: 253 had a glioma type brain tumour, 194 had a meningioma type tumour (diagnosed between 2004 and 2006) and 892 had no tumours. With respect to mobile telephones, the researchers asked the subjects about their use over their lifetimes. The mean length of time spent on the telephone for all individuals was 2.7 hours per month. In the sample, only 12% of the individuals studied had used their telephone for a period of ten years or more.

We show that heavy mobile telephone use, 896 or more hours of calls over a lifetime, may be associated with the development of brain tumours. In these people, the risk of a positive association between telephone use and the development of brain tumours was increased for those who used the telephone for more than 15 hours per month,” explains Isabelle Baldi, a co-author of this study.

“However, it is important to emphasise that it constitutes an association, and not a cause and effect relationship. This does not therefore mean that a person with heavy mobile telephone use will develop a brain tumour”

, adds the researcher.

Note to Editors:

The authors of these studies also point out that an exposure of 896 hours or more in a lifetime is not equivalent to 15 hours per month or 30 minutes per day. This figure is an extrapolation, which leads to confusion. When we talk of 30 minutes per day, everyone feels concerned, because this happens to everyone one day, but not every day.
They also emphasise that the number of calls is not associated with tumours.

Mobile phone use and brain tumours in the CERENAT case-control study, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 9 May 2014

Read the booklet to help understand case-control epidemiological studies

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Researcher Contact

Isabelle Baldi
05 57 57 12 34 / rf.2xuaedrob-u.depsi@idlab.ellebasi

Gaelle Coureau
05 57 57 11 51 / rf.2xuaedrob-u.depsi@uaeruoc.elleag

Roger Salamon 

Ghislaine Bouvier
05 57 57 13 93 / rf.2xuaedrob-u.depsi@reivuob.enialsihg


Mobile phone use and brain tumours in the CERENAT case-control study

Gaëlle Coureau,1,2,3 Ghislaine Bouvier,1,2 Pierre Lebailly,4,5,6 Pascale Fabbro-Peray,7,8 Anne Gruber,1 Karen Leffondre,2 Jean-Sebastien Guillamo,9 Hugues Loiseau,10 Simone Mathoulin-Pélissier,2 Roger Salamon,2,3 Isabelle Baldi1,2,11

1Laboratoire Santé Travail Environnement, Univ. Bordeaux, ISPED, Bordeaux, France
2INSERM, ISPED, Centre INSERM U897-Epidémiologie-Biostatistique, Bordeaux, France
3CHU de Bordeaux, Service d’information médicale, Bordeaux, France
4INSERM, UMR1086-Cancers et Préventions, Caen, France
5Univ. Caen Basse-Normandie, Caen, France
6Centre François Baclesse, Caen, France
7Laboratoire d’Epidémiologie et de Biostatistiques, Univ. Montpellier, Institut Universitaire de Recherche Clinique, Montpellier, France
8Département d’informatique médicale, CHU de Nîmes, Nîmes, France
9Département de neurologie, CHU de Caen, Caen, France
10Service de Neurochirurgie, CHU de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France
11Service de Médecine du Travail, CHU de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France

Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 9 mai 2014