Alberta Cancer Foundation

Cellphones and Cancer Risk


Long awaited and highly touted, the biggest study ever undertaken on the link between cellphones and cancer was finally published in May. The results, however, did not conclusively show that cellphones cause, or even increase the risk of, four different types of tumours.

The international cancer research project, Interphone, was released May 17. It spanned 13 countries and four continents, tracking cell phone use for thousands of people with cancer between 2000 and 2004.
In its conclusion, the Interphone report says that observations did not show an increase in the risk of cancerous brain tumours with cell phone use, but it did suggest that there could be a chance of an increased risk of one type of tumour “at the highest exposure levels.”

In Ottawa, Vancouver and Montreal – as well as in cities in France, Israel, Japan, New Zealand and the U.K. – more than 5,000 cell phone users with cancer were compared to an equal number of people without cancer. Despite the study’s breadth, no conclusive links between cancer and cellphones were found.

“Is there any way out of this ambivalence?” ask lead researchers Rodolfo Saracci, of Italy’s National Research Council, and Jonathon Samet, of the University of Southern California.

They published an accompanying review of the Interphone study in the International Journal of Epidemiology. Both are researchers in preventative medicine and though they agree that the study is the largest yet on cellphone use and cancer, they say that for now, “the question as to whether mobile phone use increases risk for brain cancers remains open.”