A study conducted by Manchester University has found that radio frequencies used by mobile phones do not appear to increase the risk of developing brain cancers by any significant amount.
The study published in the journal Bioelectromagnetics, which used publicly-available data from the UK Office of National Statistics, found no statistical change in the incidence of brain cancers in England in a nine-year period between 1998 and 2007.
"Mobile phone use in the United Kingdom and other countries has risen steeply since the early 1990s when the first digital mobile phones were introduced,” said lead researcher Dr Frank de Vocht, an expert in occupational and environmental health in the University of Manchester’s School of Community-Based Medicine.
“There is an on-going controversy about whether radio frequency exposure from mobile phones increases the risk of brain cancer. Our findings indicate that a causal link between mobile phone use and cancer is unlikely because there is no evidence of any significant increase in the disease since their introduction and rapid proliferation.”
The researchers found that, although there is no plausible way for radio waves to alter or damage genes causing healthy cells to become cancerous, it is possible that mobile phone use could cause existing cancers to develop more rapidly.
It's this possibility which is most likely the cause of the increase in reported cancers amongst mobile users which have lead to several headline-grabbing studies, the frequency and shrillness of which have grown exponentially alongside the consumer take-up of mobile phones.
"Our research suggests that the increased and widespread use of mobile phones, which in some studies was associated to increased brain cancer risk, has not led to a noticeable increase in the incidence of brain cancer in England between 1998 and 2007,” said Dr de Vocht.
"It is very unlikely that we are at the forefront of a brain cancer epidemic related to mobile phones, as some have suggested, although we did observe a small increased rate of brain cancers in the temporal lobe corresponding to the time period when mobile phone use rose from zero to 65 er cent of households. However, to put this into perspective, if this specific rise in tumour incidence was caused by mobile phone use, it would contribute to less than one additional case per 100,000 population in a decade.
But he added: "We cannot exclude the possibility that there are people who are susceptible to radio-frequency exposure or that some rare brain cancers are associated with it but we interpret our data as not indicating a pressing need to implement public health measures to reduce radio-frequency exposure from mobile phones."