February 2001

National Cancer Institute study published

Last month we referred to a study of cellular telephones and brain cancer that was released early by the New England Journal of Medicine. The study has now been published in the January 11 issue of the journal. An editorial on the subject appears in the same issue.

This paper is discussed further in the section "Research - Epidemiology".

References: Inskip PD, Tarone RE, Hatch EE, Wilcosky TC, et al. Cellular-telephone use and brain tumors. New England Journal of Medicine 2001;344:79-86.
Trichopoulos D, Adami H-O. Cellular-telephone use and brain tumors. New England Journal of Medicine 2001;344:133-134.


Melanoma of the eye linked to RF radiation

A recent article in the journal "Epidemiology" describes a study of uveal melanoma, a rare tumour of the eye. Stang and colleagues compared 118 cases with 475 controls. An increased risk was found for exposure to RF-transmitting devices, such as radio sets and mobile phones.

An editorial by Inskip in the same issue discusses some of the limitations of Stang's study. The main concerns are the lack of a detailed exposure assessment and the small number (7) of cases exposed to mobile phones.

Further details of this paper can be found in "Research - Epidemiology".

References: Stang A, Anastassiou G, Ahrens W, Bromen K, et al. The possible role of radiofrequency radiation in the development of uveal melanoma. Epidemiology 2001;12:7-12.
Inskip PD. Frequent radiation exposures and frequency-dependent effects: The eyes have it. Epidemiology 2001;12:1-4.


More on the Sutton Coldfield transmitter

In "Research - Epidemiology", we discuss a study by Dolk and colleagues that examined cancer rates in the areas surrounding a TV transmitter in Sutton Coldfield in England. In letters to the editor of the American Journal of Epidemiology, this subject is explored further. Cooper and colleagues analysed data from 1987-1994 (Dolk's study covered the years 1974-1986), and found slight increases in some cancers, compared with the expected numbers. Childhood male leukaemia declined with distance from the transmitter. In Dolk's study, adult leukaemia declined with distance.

In another letter, Cherry argues that Dolk's study, and others near transmitters, support "a causal relation between a range of adult cancers and chronic exposure to very low mean-intensity RF radiation".

Dolk comments on these two letters. She questions Cherry's interpretation of the original study, and notes that Cooper's study tend not to confirm the existence of a persistent localised excess of cancer near the transmitter of the magnitude she and her colleagues found.

References: Cooper D, Hemmings K, Saunders P. Re: "Cancer incidence near radio and television transmitters in Great Britain. I. Sutton Coldfield transmitter; II. All high power transmitters". (Letter). Am J Epidemiol 2001;153:202-4.
Cherry N. Re: "Cancer incidence near radio and television transmitters in Great Britain. I. Sutton Coldfield transmitter; II. All high power transmitters". (Letter). Am J Epidemiol 2001;153:204-5.
Dolk H. The first author replies. (Letter). Am J Epidemiol 2001;153:205.


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