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SURGICAL NEUROLOGY, Volume 70, Issue 5, Pages 445-446

Cell phones more dangerous than cigarettes!

Domingo 14 de diciembre de 2008 · 1719 lecturas

Volume 70, Issue 5, Pages 445-446 (November 2008)

Cell phones more dangerous than cigarettes!

Ron Pawl, MD

published online 11 September 2008.

In March of this year, Dr Vini G. Khurana, an Australian Neurosurgeon, made news headlines declaring that, based on his research of the literature, the long-term use of cell phones was leading to brain tumors and was more dangerous to health than smoking cigarettes [13]. The relationship between exposure to electromagnetic fields (ELFs) and brain tumor incidence has long been a subject of concern and research in the neurosciences and oncology. However, until this last year, most studies have failed to show a clear relationship between cell phone use and brain tumors [17]. Then in April of 2007, Lennart Hardell, a professor of oncology and cancer epidemiology at the University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden, along with 4 other authors published an article using case-controlled and cohort studies that clearly demonstrates that the use of cell phones for 10 years or more is associated with an increased risk for the development of glioma and acoustic neuroma ipsilateral to the side where the phone was used [3]. Subsequently, in April of this year, the same authors published a meta-analysis of several studies on the topic and also concluded that there is a positive relationship between long-term cell phone use and ipsilateral glioma and acoustic neuroma [4]. Needless to say, such findings are alarming. Cell phones are ubiquitous in our society, and the numbers and use of such devices have increased exponentially since being introduced in the mid-1980s. Furthermore, cell phone use by teenagers and even preteens has also grown to become commonplace. Obviously, exposure to ELF by cell phone use in the young might even pose a greater threat because the changes caused by such exposure might well be greater in the developing brain. However, it does not end there. Other reports by Hardell et al indicate that the use of wireless handsets in cordless home phones poses the same risk as cell phones [5], [6].

It should be true, if the forgoing findings are accurate, that there has been an increase in the incidence of brain tumors over the last 25 years or so. There are a number of published reports on the topic indicating a definite increase in the incidence of brain tumors, particularly malignant forms such as glioblastoma multiforme [1], [2], [7], [8], [14], [16]. Although some studies indicate a stable tumor rate [9] including during the years after cell phone introduction [15]. An increase in nerve sheath tumors has also been reported [8]. The statistical increase of tumors found in these studies are somewhat modified, in some authors’ opinions, because of the improved technology of diagnostic imaging, especially computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, both introduced and advanced in the same era [1], [14]. However, the fact is that the incidence of gliomas, especially the more malignant varieties, is increasing based on the now numerous reports warrants action on the issue.

Hardell and his colleagues, along with other scientists, have formed the Bioinitiative Working Group [11], which appears to be a spin-off of another group, the Bioelectromagnetics Society [10]. The mission of the Bioelectromagnetics Society, as posted on their Web site, is to be the international resource for excellence in scientific research, knowledge, and understanding of the interaction of electromagnetic fields with biological systems. The Bioinitiative Group has produced a report called: “A Rationale for a Biologically-based Public Exposure Standard for Electromagnetic Fields (ELF and RF ((Radio Frequency)))” [12]. In that report, evidence for childhood leukemia caused by exposure to power lines is addressed as well as the issue of gliomas and acoustic neuromas caused by cell phone and cordless phone use. They state, “In summary we conclude that our review yielded a consistent pattern of an increased risk for acoustic neuroma and glioma after 10 (or more) years mobile phone use. We conclude that (the) current standard for exposure to microwaves during mobile phone use is not safe for long-term brain tumor risk and needs to be revised” [12].

The report further states, “The existing FCC and international limits for public and occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields and radiofrequency radiation are not protective of public health. New biologically based public and occupational exposures are recommended to address bioeffects and potential adverse health effects of chronic exposure. These effects are now widely reported to occur at exposure levels significantly below most current national and international limits” [12].

It therefore behests our scientific societies to address this issue. There is one caveat; that is, only one group, Hardell et al, have carried out actual studies pertaining to the issue and found a clear relationship between brain tumors and ELF. No other long-term studies have been carried out; Dr Khurana’s warning is based on a review of literature only. It seems that a cooperative effort by both the scientific community and state governing bodies will be needed. Some spearhead is now necessary in view of the magnitude and seriousness of the situation.

[1]. [1]Chakrabarti I, Cockburn M, Cozen W, Wang YP, Preston-Martin S. A population-based description of glioblastoma multiforme in Los Angeles County, 1974-1999. Cancer. 2005;104(12):2798-2806.

[2]. [2]Deorah S, Lynch CF, Sibenaller ZA, Ryken TC. Trends in brain cancer incidence and survival in the United States: Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, 1973 to 2001. Neurosurg Focus. 2006;20(4):E1. MEDLINE | CrossRef

[3]. [3]Hardell L, et al. Long-term use of cellular phones and brain tumors: increased risk associated with use for > 10 years. Occup Environ Med. 2007;64:626-632. CrossRef

[4]. [4]Hardell L, et al. Meta-analysis of long term mobile phone use and the association with brain tumours. Int J Oncol. 2008;32:1097-1103.

[5]. [5]Hardell L, et al. Pooled analysis of two case-controlled studies on the use of cellular and cordless telephones and the risk of benign brain tumours diagnosed during 1997-2003. Int J Oncol. 2006;28:509-518. MEDLINE

[6]. [6]Hardell L, et al. Pooled analysis of two case-control studies on the use of cellular and cordless phones and the risk for malignant brain tumours diagnosed in 1997-2003. Int Arch Environ Mealth. 2006;79:630-639.

[7]. [7]Hess KR, Broglio KR, Bondy ML. Adult glioma incidence trends in the United States, 1977-2000. Cancer. 2004;101(10):2293-2299.

[8]. [8]Hoffman S, Propp JM, McCarthy BJ. Temporal trends in incidence of primary brain tumors in the United States, 1985-1999. Neuro Oncol. 2006;8(1):27-37.

[9]. [9]Houben MP, Aben KK, Teepen JL, Schouten-Van Meeteren AY, Tijssen CC, Van Duijn CM, et al. Stable incidence of childhood and adult glioma in The Netherlands, 1989-2003. Acta Oncol. 2006;45(3):272-279. CrossRef

[10]. [10]http://www.bioelectromagnetics.org/.

[11]. [11]http://www.bioinitiative.org/press_release/docs/august31_2007.pdf.

[12]. [12]http://www.bioinitiative.org/report/index.htm.

[13]. [13]http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,343335,00.html.

[14]. [14]Jukich PJ, McCarthy BJ, Surawicz TS, Freels S, Davis FG. Trends in incidence of primary brain tumors in the United States, 1985-1994. Neuro Oncol. 2001;3(3):141-151.

[15]. [15]Lonn S, Klaeboe L, Hall P, Mathiesen T, Auvinen A, Christensen HC, et al. Incidence trends of adult primary intracerebral tumors in four Nordic countries. Int J Cancer. 2004;108(3):450-455. MEDLINE | CrossRef

[16]. [16]McKinley BP, Michalek AM, Fenstermaker RA, Plunkett RJ. The impact of age and sex on the incidence of glial tumors in New York state from 1976 to 1995. J Neurosurg. 2000;93(6):932-939. MEDLINE

[17]. [17]Nordenberg T. Cell phones and cancer: no clear connection. U.S. Food and Drug Administration; FDA Consumer Magazine. vol. 34. 2000;No. 6; November-December.

Center for Pain Treatment and Rehabilitation, Lake Forest Hospital, Lake Forest, IL 60045, USA

PII: S0090-3019(08)00646-0


2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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