• 11 MAR 12
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    Comments on the latest NCI paper on mobile phone use and brain tumour risks

    From André Fauteux:

    NEWS RELEASE from Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.
    March 9, 2012

    U.S. Brain Tumor Rates Consistent
    with Interphone Study Results

    Today the National Cancer Institute (NCI) published a paper in the British Medical Journal which used results from the major epidemiologic studies on cell phone use and brain tumor risk (i.e., glioma) to predict trends in the U.S. cancer registry data. The authors concluded that “the U.S. data could be consistent with the modest excess risks in the Interphone study.” This conclusion provides greater credence to the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s classification of mobile phone radiation as a “possible human carcinogen” because the experts relied heavily on the Interphone study results.

    NCI concluded in their BMJ paper:
    “Raised risks of glioma with mobile phone use, as reported by one (Swedish) study forming the basis of the IARC”s re-evaluation of mobile phone exposure, are not consistent with observed incidence trends in US population data, although the US data could be consistent with the modest excess risks in the Interphone study.”

    In an interview with Microwave News, I raised some problems with NCI’s conclusion:

    “Joel Moskowitz of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health takes exception at NCI’s characterization of the Interphone risks as “modest.” In an interview, he pointed out that the tumor risks among long-term users in Interphone’s Appendix 2 was above two. “The doubling of the glioma risk among cell phone users over ten years is neither modest nor trivial,” he said. Moskowitz added that the long-term risk in Appendix 2 is not that different from that reported by Hardell.”

    — “NCI on Cell Phones: U.S. Brain Tumor Rates Consistent with Interphone, But Not with Hardell”, Microwave News, March 9, 2012.
    I encourage you to read the full text of the report on this study by Microwave News which should be posted online soon: http://www.microwavenews.com/.

    In my opinion, the complex simulations conducted for this paper make numerous assumptions and raise more questions than they answer. The paper estimates the incidence of glioma in the U.S. in 2008 to be 17.7 per 100,000 which is considerably higher than previous estimates from U.S. cancer registry data. However, this paper is important because in the past the NCI has employed the cancer registry data to support their position that there is no evidence of excess brain tumor risk due to cell phone use in the U.S. Perhaps this study will encourage the NCI to rethink its denialist position.

    Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.

    ===

    Here is the abstract for the paper:

    M P Little, P Rajaraman, R E Curtis, S S Devesa, P D Inskip, D P Check, M S Linet. Mobile phone use and glioma risk: comparison of epidemiological study results with incidence trends in the United States. BMJ. 2012;344:e1147. Published online Mar 8, 2012.

    Correspondence to: M P Little mark.little@nih.gov

    Abstract

    Objective In view of mobile phone exposure being classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), we determined the compatibility of two recent reports of glioma risk (forming the basis of the IARC”s classification) with observed incidence trends in the United States.

    Design Comparison of observed rates with projected rates of glioma incidence for 1997-2008. We estimated projected rates by combining relative risks reported in the 2010 Interphone study and a 2011 Swedish study by Hardell and colleagues with rates adjusted for age, registry, and sex; data for mobile phone use; and various latency periods.

    Setting US population based data for glioma incidence in 1992-2008, from 12 registries in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) programme (Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose-Monterey, Seattle, rural Georgia, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, New Mexico, and Utah).

    Participants Data for 24 813 non-Hispanic white people diagnosed with glioma at age 18 years or older.

    Results Age specific incidence rates of glioma remained generally constant in 1992-2008 ( 0.02% change per year, 95% confidence interval 0.28% to 0.25%), a period coinciding with a substantial increase in mobile phone use from close to 0% to almost 100% of the US population. If phone use was associated with glioma risk, we expected glioma incidence rates to be higher than those observed, even with a latency period of 10 years and low relative risks (1.5). Based on relative risks of glioma by tumour latency and cumulative hours of phone use in the Swedish study, predicted rates should have been at least 40% higher than observed rates in 2008. However, predicted glioma rates based on the small proportion of highly exposed people in the Interphone study could be consistent with the observed data. Results remained valid if we used either non-regular users or low users of mobile phones as the baseline category, and if we constrained relative risks to be more than 1.

    Conclusions Raised risks of glioma with mobile phone use, as reported by one (Swedish) study forming the basis of the IARC”s re-evaluation of mobile phone exposure, are not consistent with observed incidence trends in US population data, although the US data could be consistent with the modest excess risks in the Interphone study.

    http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e1147

    Web extra: http://www.bmj.com/highwire/filestream/572382/field_highwire_adjunct_files/0

    ==============================================
    Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.
    Director
    Center for Family and Community Health
    School of Public Health
    University of California, Berkeley
    50 University Hall
    Berkeley, CA 94720-7360

    Phone: 510-643-7314
    E-mail: jmm@berkeley.edu
    WWW: http://cfch.berkeley.edu Leave a reply →