Dialing Up a Tumor on Your Cell Phone

Medical Authors and Editors: Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D. and Frederick Hecht, M.D.

October 15, 2004 -- Ten or more years of mobile phone use has been found to increase the risk of a tumor called acoustic neuroma. The risk appears confined to the side of the head where the phone is usually held.

This worrisome information is in a report of a study from the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the famed Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. There is no evidence for an increased risk with less than 10 years of mobile phone use.

Acoustic Neuroma

Acoustic neuromas are slow-growing benign tumors of the acoustic nerve, the eighth cranial nerve, which is responsible for balance and head position as well as hearing.

Radiofrequency exposure from mobile phones is concentrated to the tissues closest to the handset, which includes the auditory nerve. If this type of exposure increases tumor risk, acoustic neuroma would be a potential concern.

The Swedish Study

A total of about 150 acoustic neuroma patients and 600 healthy controls participated in a case-control study.

The risk of acoustic neuroma was found to be almost double for people who started using their analog cell phone at least 10 years before the diagnosis of their tumor.