Dialing Up a Tumor on Your Cell Phone
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.
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
When the side of the head on which the phone was usually held was taken into consideration, it was found that the risk of acoustic neuroma almost quadrupled on the phone side and was virtually normal on the other side.
Limitations of the
The sample may have been biased in other ways. A nurse contacted the patients and controls and asked them if they wanted to participate and only those who said "yes" were included in the study.
Those who agreed to participate in the study then had a personal interview about their mobile phone use and other issues of importance in the study.
Although the study has its limitations, the basic conclusion it comes to looks solid to us. It casts light not only on the danger of using an analog cell phone but also on the genesis of acoustic neuromas.
What is Happening
We would think that what is happening is that radiofrequency exposure from analog cell phones is mutating this same gene on chromosome 22, causing it to lose function and fail to control the growth of Schwann cells, and the end result is an acoustic neuroma.
Lonn S, et al: Mobile Phone Use and the Risk of Acoustic Neuroma. Epidemiology 15::653, Nov 2004
Last Editorial Review: 10/15/2004