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Researchers from Finland, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Norway have reported that long-term data do not indicate an association between the use of cell phones and an increased risk of meningioma. The details of this study appeared in an early online publication in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Meningiomas arise from cells in the meninges, the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningiomas comprise 24% of all primary brain tumors, making them the most common of all primary brain tumors. Although meningiomas make up a large percentage of brain tumors, they are typically slow growing and non-cancerous (benign) and thus responsible for only 7% of all deaths from brain tumors.

There is great concern that microwave exposure during cell-phone use will lead to an increase in the incidence of brain tumors. Most current studies have failed to show an association between cell phone use and brain tumors, but one study published in 2002 suggested that use of older analog-style phones was associated with an increase in brain tumors, particularly acoustic neuromas.

Researchers from Finland, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Norway recently conducted a clinical study to further explore the relationship between cell phone use and the risk of developing meningiomas. The study compared the rate of meningiomas among patients who regularly used cell phones with that of individuals who didn’t use cell phones.

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  • The risk of meningiomas among regular users of cell phones was 24% lower than in non-users.
  • The risk of meningiomas was not increased with increasing use of cell phones as measured by lifetime use, cumulative hours, or cumulative number of calls. These findings were the same for analog and digital phone use.

These results indicate that cell phone use is not associated with risks of developing meningiomas. However, the debate will undoubtedly continue regarding the risk of brain tumors associated with cell phone use.

Reference: Lahkola A, Salminen T, Raitanen J, et al. Meningioma and mobile phone use-a collaborative case-control study in five North European countries. International Journal of Epidemiology [early online publication]. August 2, 2008.