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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Your Brain Is Fine

I've had a cellphone for over two decades, and in every one of those years, I've read an alarmist story warning that, because we hold the devices up to our heads, we were all going to get brain cancer.

There has never been peer-reviewed confirmation of those claims, despite volumes of research. The latest to debunk those claims comes from Australian researcher Simon Chapman:

We examined the association between age and gender-specific incidence rates of 19,858 men and 14,222 women diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia between 1982-2012, and national mobile phone usage data from 1987-2012.

In summary, with extremely high proportions of the population having used mobile phones across some 20-plus years (from about 9% in 1993 to about 90% today), we found that age-adjusted brain cancer incidence rates (in those aged 20-84 years, per 100,000 people) had risen only slightly in males but were stable over 30 years in females.

There were significant increases in brain cancer incidence only in those aged 70 years or more. But the increase in incidence in this age group began from 1982, before the introduction of mobile phones in 1987 and so could not be explained by it. Here, the most likely explanation of the rise in this older age group was improved diagnosis.
That's a pretty large sample base over a good extended period, after which Chapman concludes:
We have had mobiles in Australia since 1987. Some 90% of the population use them today and many of these have used them for a lot longer than 20 years. But we are seeing no rise in the incidence of brain cancer against the background rate.
Read Chapman's full piece here.