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Mobile phone use and risk of glioma in adults: case-control study

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 13 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:883
  1. Sarah J Hepworth, medical statistician1,
  2. Minouk J Schoemaker, medical statistician2,
  3. Kenneth R Muir, professor of epidemiology3,
  4. Anthony J Swerdlow, professor of epidemiology2,
  5. Martie J A van Tongeren, senior lecturer in occupational and environmental health4,
  6. Patricia A McKinney, professor of paediatric epidemiology (p.a.mckinney{at}
  1. 1 Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Leeds Institute of Genetics, Health, and Therapeutics (LIGHT), Leeds LS2 9LN
  2. 2 Institute of Cancer Research, Section of Epidemiology, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5NG
  3. 3 Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, School of Community Health Sciences, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH
  4. 4 Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Division of Epidemiology and Health Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL
  1. Correspondence to: P A McKinney
  • Accepted 14 November 2005


Objective To investigate the risk of glioma in adults in relation to mobile phone use.

Design Population based case-control study with collection of personal interview data.

Setting Five areas of the United Kingdom.

Participants 966 people aged 18 to 69 years diagnosed with a glioma from 1 December 2000 to 29 February 2004 and 1716 controls randomly selected from general practitioner lists.

Main outcome measures Odds ratios for risk of glioma in relation to mobile phone use.

Results The overall odds ratio for regular phone use was 0.94 (95% confidence interval 0.78 to 1.13). There was no relation for risk of glioma and time since first use, lifetime years of use, and cumulative number of calls and hours of use. A significant excess risk for reported phone use ipsilateral to the tumour (1.24, 1.02 to 1.52) was paralleled by a significant reduction in risk (0.75, 0.61 to 0.93) for contralateral use.

Conclusions Use of a mobile phone, either in the short or medium term, is not associated with an increased risk of glioma. This is consistent with most but not all published studies. The complementary positive and negative risks associated with ipsilateral and contralateral use of the phone in relation to the side of the tumour might be due to recall bias.


  • Contributors PAMcK, MJS, KRM, MJAvT, and AJS were responsible for the design and implementation of the study. SJH and MJS conducted the statistical analysis. PAMcK and SJH wrote the first draft of the paper. All coauthors provided comments on the draft. PAMcK is the guarantor. Funding: The south east and northern UK studies received funding from the Mobile Telecommunications, Health and Research (MTHR) programme and as part of the Interphone study from the EU, the Mobile Manufacturers Forum, and the GSM Association through the scientifically independent Union Internationale Contre le Cancer (UICC). In addition the northern UK study received funding from the Health and Safety Executive, the Department of Health, the UK network operators (O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, 3), and the Scottish Executive.

  • Competing interests The University of Leeds has received some financial support on behalf of the four centres of the UK northern study from the UK network operators (O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, 3) under legal signed contractual agreements which ensure complete independence for the scientific investigators. While employed at the University of Birmingham MJAvT received funding from O2, Orange, T-Mobile, and Vodafone to carry out a feasibility study of health effects from radiofrequency exposure among employees of broadcasting and telecommunication industries.

  • Ethical approval Multicentre research ethics committees for the south east and Scotland and all relevant local research ethics committees.

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