Just a couple of months after the World Health Organization caused a firestorm of controversy by re-categorizing cell phones as a possible cancer risk, a new paper by a team of international researchers says that a major study on the subject matter is flawed.
The review, recently published in the journal of Environmental Health Perspectives, concludes that “although there remains some uncertainty, the trend in the accumulating evidence is increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumours [sic] in adults.”
The report notes that numerous studies have been published on the issue in the past 12 years, and that no direct relationship between cell phones and brain cancer has been proven.
The review focuses in particular on an international, decade-long study that included more than 5,000 patients with certain forms of brain cancer. The five researchers who authored the critical review write extensively about the inconsistencies in the methods of gathering and analyzing the data about the patients’ use of cell phones.
For example, the study used different interview protocols in different countries, and relied on the subjects’ memories about their patterns of cell phone usage over long periods of time.
Anthony Swerdlow of Britain’s Institute of Cancer Research, listed as the primary author
of the new review, told Reuters that his paper’s conclusion and the WHO’s in May were not necessarily contradictory.
“We are trying to say in plain English what we believe the relationship is. They (IARC) were trying to classify the risk according to a pre-set classification system,” Swerdlow said.
About five billion cell phones are in use around the world, according to the International Telecommunications Union, so the debate and uncertainty over the issue are of worldwide interest.
Swerdlow and another researcher listed on the paper, Maria Feychting of the Institute of Environmental Medicine in Stockholm, Sweden, disclosed that in addition to being funded by anti-cancer organizations, they also receive money from the Mobile Manufacturers’ Forum, the GSM Association and other mobile telecom companies.
Swerdlow also disclosed that he and his wife own telecom stocks in Cable & Wireless and British Telecom.