Researcher Calls Interphone Study 'Biased'

Posted by: Olga Kharif on May 17, 2010

There’s no link between cell phone use and occurrence of some types of cancer, according to the world’s largest study examining the subject that came out on May 17. “An increased risk of brain cancer is not established from the data,” Christopher Wild, director of International Agency for Research on Cancer that coordinated the Interphone study, said in a statement.

That doesn’t mean that cell-phone use is safe, said Joel Moskowitz, director of Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley. In a May 16 paper, he argued the study and conclusions that have been drawn from it may be “biased.” “Based upon… analysis by the Interphone investigators, cell phone use may increase gliomas” — a type of a brain tumor — “by 12,000 to 21,000 cases per year in the U.S.,” he argues.

The Interphone study indicates that people who’ve used cell phones for at least 1,640 hours face a 40% higher risk of developing a glioma, which is a type of a brain tumor, he wrote. “… the average user in the U.S. today could fall into this high risk use category after about 13 years of use,” Moskowitz said.

The study followed cell-phone users from 13 countries, not including the U.S. It mostly collected data on cell phone usage between years 2000 and 2004, when people didn’t use their cell phones as much as they do today. An average study participant talked on the phone for two to 2-1/2 hours a month.

Today, though, the average U.S. cell phone user talks as much in a week, Moskowitz wrote. That said, more people nowadays use Bluetooth and wired headsets. And many users, particularly teens, often text instead of calling their friends.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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