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Details on MMF Research Programs

International Case-Controlled Studies of Cancer in Relation to Mobile Telephone Use.

The INTERPHONE project is a multi-national series of epidemiological studies testing whether using mobile phones increases the risk of various cancers in the head and neck. The project comprises national studies from 13 different countries, which are coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Partial results for the UK, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden were reported in 2004 and 2005, and publication of the overall analysis is expected in 2006.

Project Background
Prior to the initiation of the INTERPHONE project, the general consensus of expert reviews was that there was no convincing evidence to link mobile phone usage with cancer. Nonetheless, in view of the growing public use of mobile phones, the shortage of relevant epidemiological data, and perceived public concern about radiofrequency health effects, further research was recommended. In 1998-1999 the IARC coordinated an international feasibility study resulting in the design of the INTERPHONE project with sufficient statistical power to detect a 1.5 fold increase in head and neck cancer risk for 5-10 years of mobile phone use.

Project Partners
Data is collected by research teams from 13 countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the UK. These countries adopted mobile technology early and the spread minimises regional bias. The study is coordinated by Dr Elisabeth Cardis at the IARC.

Cancer Types Studied in the Project
The project focuses on cancers that occur in the head and neck in areas of relatively high exposure to radio signals during mobile phone usage. These cancers include gliomas (tumours arising from glial cells in the brain), meningiomas (tumours of the membranes covering the brain), acoustic neurinomas (tumours of the acoustic nerve) and tumours of the parotid gland (a salivary gland in the cheek).

Study Protocol
The INTERPHONE studies are based on a common core protocol to enable valid data pooling. They use a population-based case-control design where persons (mainly 30-59 years old) with the selected cancers (the cases) are compared to a control group for their mobile phone usage patterns. The controls are selected so as to maximise the similarities, age, sex, place of residence, with the cases analysed. Usage patterns are ascertained by face-to-face interviews covering type of phone used (analogue or digital), side of the head where phone is most used (laterality), frequency of use, cumulative calls, hours of use and time since first regular use. Supporting studies assessed accuracy of subject recall and other factors that could affect exposure estimates.

Study Conclusions
Partial results from some of the national studies have been published and are described in other information briefs in this series. However, the most authoritative conclusions will only be drawn when the pooled analysis of the full international data is validated and published in its entirety.

Project Funding and Independence
The coordination of the INTERPHONE project and the national data collection has been funded by the European Union and by other national and local government funding bodies. The GSM Association and the Mobile Manufacturers Forum also provided funds, which were administered by the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) in order to ensure scientific independence. The sponsors of the INTERPHONE project do not have access to any results of the studies before their publication. They may, however, be informed, together with representatives from other interested organisations such as consumers’ groups, a maximum of seven days before the publication of the results, under strict terms of confidentiality.

International Agency for Research on Cancer:


Results published to date:


Christensen et al., Cellular Telephone Use and Risk of Acoustic Neuroma - Am J Epidemiol 2004; 159:277-283. Abstract and further information

Christensen et al., Cellular telephones and risk for brain tumors, A population-based, incident case-control study, Neurology 64:1189-1195. Abstract and further information


Schüz et al., Cellular Phones, Cordless Phones, and the Risks of Glioma and Meningioma (Interphone Study Group, Germany), American Journal of Epidemiology 2006 163(6):512-520: Abstract and further information

Read the MMF/GSMA Research Brief on the German study

Germany - Dosimetry

Berg-et-al., Assessment of radiofrequency exposure from cellular telephone daily use in an epidemiological study: German Validation study of the international case-control study of cancers of the brain - INTERPHONE-Study, Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology advance online publication, 21 July 2004: Abstract and further information

Samkange-Zeeb et al.,Validation of self-reported cellular phone use, Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology 2004, 14/3: 245-248: Abstract and further information


Lonn et al., Mobile Phone Use and the Risk of Acoustic Neuroma, Epidemiology 2004; 15: 653;V659: Abstract and further information

Lonn et al., Long-term Mobile Phone Use and Brain Tumor Risk, American Journal of Epidemiology 2005 Mar 15;161(6): 526-35: Abstract and further information

Read the MMF Viewpoint on the Swedish study

United Kingdom

Hepworth et al., Mobile phone use and risk of glioma in adults: case-control study, British Medical Journal; 2006 (advance on-line publication): Abstract and further information

Read the MMF Viewpoint on the United Kingdom study

Read the MMF/GSMA Research Brief on the United Kingdom study

Five European Country Acoustic Neuroma data

Schoemaker et al., Mobile phone use and risk of acoustic neuroma: results of the Interphone case-control study in five North European countries, British Journal of Cancer 2005; 93;842-848: Abstract and further information

Read the MMF Viewpoint on the European Acoustic Neuroma Study




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