Elliott P, Toledano MB, Bennett J, Beale L, de Hoogh K, Best N, Briggs DJ. Mobile phone base stations and early childhood cancers: case-control study. BMJ. Ahead of print. June 22, 2010.
Surveys indicate high level of concern about potential health risks of living near mobile phone base stations. Exposures of young children to mobile telephony are of particular concern because developing tissues might be more susceptible to potential effects from radiofrequency radiation.
The objective of the study was to investigate whether the mother’s exposure during pregnancy to radiofrequency radiation from macrocell mobile phone base stations is associated with the risk of early childhood cancers.
Cases of cancer diagnosed between 1999 and 2001 in children aged 0-4 years were identified from a national cancer registry. Cancers of the brain and central nervous system, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and all cancers combined were studied. There were 1,397 cases with valid address at birth. Controls individually matched by sex and date of birth (four controls per case, 5,588 in total) were identified from a national birth register. The four national mobile phone operators provided data on all antennas. Three exposure metrics for the address at birth of each case and control were estimated: 1) the distance from the nearest base station, 2) the total power output (kW) from summation across all base stations within 700 metres; 3) modeled power density (dBm) at each birth address for base stations within 1400 metres. Each exposure metric was divided into 3 categories: (1) thirds for distance and modeled power density, (2) a zero group and (3) two equal-sized non-zero groups for total power output. Regression analysis using continuous measures of the exposure metrics was also conducted. Both unadjusted analyses and analyses adjusted for small area measures of educational level, socioeconomic deprivation, population density and population mixing were conducted.
Of the 1,397 cases, 251 were brain and central nervous system cancers and 527 were leukemias and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. Regardless of the exposure metric, the odd ratios for all cancers combined and for the two groups of cancers were not significantly different from 1.0 in either categorical or continuous analyses, adjusted or unadjusted.
Interpretation and Conclusion
This study provides no evidence of an association between maternal exposure from mobile phone base stations during pregnancy and the risk of early childhood cancer in their offspring.