Experts Call Latest Cell Phone – Brain Tumor Study Flawed

An international group of experts has slammed a study that purportedly found no link between brain tumors and radiation from cell phones. According to the group, the study, which is the largest to date to examine a possible association between cell phone radiation and cancer, was “deeply flawed” and “designed to fail” to find a connection between<"">cell phones and tumors.

According to a report from, the study in question was published last week in the British Medical Journal, and was an update of a nationwide Danish study that compared the cancer risk among 420,095 Danish cell-phone subscribers to nonusers from 1982 to 1995, with follow-up to 1996. The study, which now spans 18 years, found no evidence of an increased risk for any cancer, including brain or central nervous system (CNS) tumors, said.

However, the authors of the study did point out that their findings were not the last word on a possible cell phone-cancer link, noting that “a small to moderate increase in risk for subgroups of heavy users or after even longer induction periods than 10 to 15 years cannot be ruled out, further studies with large study populations, where the potential for misclassification of exposure and selection bias is minimized, are warranted.”

According to, a group of experts from several countries has posted a rebuttal to the study on, a U.S.-based health education and advocacy group.

“This seriously flawed study misleads the public and decision makers about the safety of [cell] phone use. I consider that their claims are worthless,” Denis L. Henshaw, PhD, emeritus professor of human radiation effects, University of Bristol, United Kingdom, states in the document.

“In order for any study of a relatively rare disease like brain tumors to find a change in risk, millions must be followed for decades,” explains Devra Davis, PhD, MPH, cancer epidemiologist and president of Environmental Health Trust. “By extending an earlier analysis on the same group of cell phone users, this new report provides unsurprising, biased, and misleading conclusions.”

Among other things, the rebuttal raises questions about the individuals chosen to represent the study’s control group. According to, the Danish researchers compared the rates of brain tumors that occurred from 1990 to 2007 in those who began using cell phones after 1987 with the rates in those who were nonsubscribers when the study started. “This understates risk, because most of those who began as ‘nonsubscribers’ to cell phone service (i.e., the ‘controls’ at the time the cohort was collected) became cell phone users later on, and accumulated almost as many years (on average per person) as the ‘exposed’ subscribers. Hence, the comparison to the population not contained in the subscriber sample is a comparison between 2 exposed groups,” the group writes. This weakness, the group asserts, “would dilute any association between [cell-]phone use and cancer risk, and this is important for a negative study like the current one.”

The rebuttal goes on to assert that the Danish study actually did find a link between cell phones and cancer. “In fact, the article reports a significant increased risk of a very rare form of glioma of the cerebral ventricle based on 8 cases (2.58; 95% CI,1.08 to 6.10), but the authors chose to make no mention of this significant finding. In this instance, despite the small number, the finding is significant,” they write.

“In a study of relatively rare diseases, such as brain tumors, the failure to obtain statistical significance should not be confused with a lack of public health importance.” they continue.

The body of research that has examined a possible association between cell phones and cancer continues to be inconclusive. However, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently decided to classify cell phone radiation as possibly carcinogenic to humans after reviewing hundreds of human and animal studies. As we’ve reported, the IARC’s review included the 2010 INTERPHONE study, which found that the heaviest cell phone users experienced a 40 percent higher risk for gliomas, the most common type of brain tumor.

This entry was posted in Cell Phones & Cancer, Cellular Phone. Bookmark the permalink.

© 2005-2019 Parker Waichman LLP ®. All Rights Reserved.