Cooke R, Laing S, Swerdlow AJ. A case-control study of risk of leukaemia in relation to mobile phone use. Br J Cancer. Oct 12, 2010. Ahead of print.
There is no known mechanism by which radiofrequency (RF) radiation emitted by mobile phones would cause malignancies. However, because of the proximity of mobile phone use to the skull and mandible that contain a considerable fraction of the body’s bone marrow, it is of interest to study leukemia risks in relation to mobile phone exposure.
The objective of the study was to investigate potential associations between mobile phone use and the risk of leukemia in a large case-control study.
The study was conducted in South East England and included cases of leukemia (other than chronic lymphocytic leukemia) diagnosed between 2003-2009 in individuals aged between 18 and 59 years. Controls were selected among non-blood relatives of the cases. Data on demographic factors, mobile phone use and exposures to other suspected and known risk factors for leukemia were obtained in a face-to-face interview.
Study participants were 806 individuals with leukemia (~50% of eligible cases) and 589 controls (75% of eligible controls). There was no significant effect of a regular mobile phone use on the risk of leukemia (OR=1.06; 95% CI 0.76, 1.46), and no significant trend in risk in relation to cumulative number of calls or hours of use. A non-significant increase in leukemia risk was observed in those who first used a mobile phone ≥15 years ago (OR=1.87; 95% CI 0.96, 3.63) and after ≥15 years of total use (OR=1.63; 95% CI 0.81, 3.28). Separate analyses conducted for males and females and for digital and analogue phones provided similar results. There was no significant variation in results by cytological subtype of leukemia.
Interpretation and Conclusion
These results are generally consistent with results from other studies and do not suggest the existence of an association between mobile phone use and an increased risk of leukemia. The effect of long-term use is biologically unlikely because induction periods for leukemia after exposure to known carcinogens, such as ionizing radiation and alkylating chemotherapy, are short. However, this question remains open. Future results from existing cohort studies and from new case-control studies would be of interest in this regard.