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Press Release Brain Tumor Pandemic—DNA Impacts from Mobile Phones Implicated in New Analysis

December 24, 2011, Berkeley, CA, USA & Stockholm, Sweden. An important new analysis, The Potential Impact of Mobile Phone Use on Trends in Brain and CNS Tumors, was published today in the journal,Neurology & Neurophysiology. It can be downloaded here without cost. The paper is in a Special Issue of the journal titled "Brain Tumor."

The study raises very serious concerns about the potential for a large increase in brain cancer incidence, resulting from widespread mobile phone use.  The steep increase in brain cancer will begin in approximately 15 years according to the projections.

The paper, by researchers Örjan Hallberg in Sweden and L. Lloyd Morgan in the U.S., first reviews biological effects from mobile phone use reported in peer-reviewed studies, such as increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier, deleterious effects on sperm, double strand breaks in DNA, stress gene activation (indicating an exposure to a toxin), and increased risk of an acoustic nerve tumor (acoustic neuroma) and brain cancer after 10 or more years of mobile phone use. It then considered two established mechanisms for the development of brain cancer—that mobile phone use decreases the efficiency of the repair of mutated DNA and that mobile phone use increases the rate of DNA mutations.

In developing the model from brain cancer registry data, mathematical model parameters are selected which provide a best fit to the age adjusted registry data.  The model can be considered reasonably accurate if it approximates both the age-specific brain cancer incidence (e.g., 30-34 year age cohort) and the age-adjusted brain cancer incidence from the cancer registry data. It can then be used by the researchers to predict future brain cancer incidence.

Based on a 30-year time between first mobile phone use and diagnoses of brain cancer (latency time), the model predicts that there will be a 100% increased incidence of brain cancer (2-fold) if DNA repair efficiency is decreased by mobile phone use, and a 2,400% increase in brain tumors (25-fold) if mobile phone use mutates DNA.  The figure below, from the paper illustrates these predictions.


Figure 3. Norwegian brain tumor age-adjusted rates per 100,000 person-years by calendar year for reported data with 3 results from mobile phone use 1) Increased DNA damage 2) no DNA repair and 3) has no effect.

The public health risk modeling process used in this analysis was developed by Örjan Hallberg and has been successfully applied in other illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease and melanoma.

Hallberg says, "Such modeling, or risk projection, is important, whether for the climate or for diseases, in that it allows public health contingency planning, should the model be reasonable accurate.  For example, will there be sufficient neurosurgeons should brain tumors increase as the model predicts?".

Morgan says, "What this analysis shows is that, unless mobile phone usage behavior patterns change significantly, we can reasonably expect a pandemic of brain tumors, for which we are ill-prepared, beginning approximately 15 years from now. Governments, as well as parents, physicians, schools and all citizens, would be well advised to educate all persons under their care or influence about the need to curtail the use of mobile phones and other radiation-emitting consumer devices".

Media Contacts:

Europe: Örjan Hallberg in Sweden
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., + 46 (8) 605 4998).

North America: Lloyd Morgan in Berkeley, California, USA
Sr. Research Fellow, Environmental Health Trust
(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +510 841-4362).