Long-term use of mobile phones can cause brain tumours, a major World Health Organisation study will finally announce later this year.
People who have used a mobile phone for more than 10 years face a “significantly increased risk” of developing brain tumours such as glioma, says the Interphone study, which reviewed the evidence from 13 countries, involving around 12,800 people. It will publish its conclusions later this year following a delay of four years.
Study head Dr Elisabeth Cardis said the report will include a “public health warning” about mobile phone usage, especially among children. France has been one of the first countries to act, and has banned the use of mobile phones in primary schools. The UK has merely cautioned about the overuse of the phones by children and adolescents.
The Interphone researchers said that six of the eight studies they reviewed found that mobile phone usage increased the risk of glioma by up to 39 per cent, while the risk of acoustic neuroma, a benign tumour between the ear and the brain, increased nearly four times among people who had used a mobile phone for more than 10 years.
Despite its findings, some critics believe the Interphone study has played down the real risks by including people who use a mobile phone only infrequently, and by excluding children altogether. Critics point out that the study was partly funded by the mobile phone industry, whose own research has invariably failed to find any link between its products and brain tumours.