Brain Tumors and Cell Phones

Scientific Literature

Update 9/29/22


Brain tumors, whether benign or malignant are devastating for patients and their families. The tumors and the treatments can create physical, cognitive and behavioral changes that are emotionally painful, difficult for families, and a societal burden. Identifying environmental causes is an important preventative measure and possibilities include ionizing radiation, pesticides, chemical toxins and air pollution. Increasingly research points to non ionizing radiofrequency radiation from cell phones as a cause, especially for acoustic neuromas. Brain tumors cause significant neurologic morbidity and mortality. ABTA Statistics.  Brain tumors are on the rise in FranceEngland  and Globally. Benign brain tumors, which are still debilitating, are also on the rise in the U.S, and rose 2.3% per year from 2004-2012 (Li et al) .  A recent study in Malta, a well defined population, showed about a 4 fold increase in brain tumors from 2008-2017.  Cell phone and cordless phone use is increasing dramatically, especially in youth.

The brain is the main target of the emissions from these hand held devices which are placed close to the head. Wireless virtual reality eye wear is now commercialized and even used in schools. Fernandez et al et al has shown significantly increased radio frequency radiation emissions from these devices, especially virtual reality. Wireless Bluetooth airbus are now placed in the ear canal in greater proximity to the brain and other vulnerable head and neck structures.  Because exposure to wireless radio frequency exposure is invisible and there is a long term latency period for development, the connection to brain tumors is easily dismissed. Basic science is showing non-ionizing radio frequency EMR at low power can damage neural cells and cause DNA damage through reactive oxygen species and possibly other mechanisms. Many comprehensive epidemiology studies and long term meta-analysis now link cell phone use to both benign and malignant brain tumors.

Ipsilateral Brain Tumors and Cell Phone Use

Epidemiological data and basic science research increasingly support a significant association between cell phone use and ipsilateral (same side) brain tumors with long term use. Research from the Interphone Study Group (2010),  Hardell (2013, 2015, 2017) and Coueau (2013) have demonstrated a statistically significant increase in brain tumors with cell phone use over 10 years. The younger a person starts to use a cell phone, the stronger the association is. Their research indicates a doubling of risk with 10 years of cell phone use and a tripling of risk with 25 years of use. Statistical data now show an increase in benign brain tumors in the U.S., Sweden and Italy. A list of scientific papers demonstrating an increase risk of benign tumors of the brain such as acoustic neuroma (aka- vestibular Schwannoma) is below. A comprehensive new meta analysis of brain tumors and cell phone use was just published by Choi YJ, Moskowitz JM, Myung SK (2020)  clearly demonstrating an increased risk for brain tumors after 1,000 hours of use. The quality of the study, funding source and response rate were also important in identifying risk. The BioInitiative Sport has also published an updated 2017 report by Dr. Hardell, Use of Wireless Phones and Evidence for Increased Risk of Brain Tumors.

Brain Cancer Rising in Youth

According to the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA)  brain tumors are now the most common cancer in youth ages 0-19, followed by testes and leukemia. (Ostrom et al, 2015). Cancer rates have been rising for many tumors in children 1-19 from 2001-2014, according to a study by Siegel (2018). These include brain tumors, thyroid tumors, leukemia, lymphoma, and renal carcinomas  Inskip (2010) indicates brain tumors are on the rise in 20-29 year olds.   A 2016 report by  emarketer ( )  reveals that about 75% of teens 12-17 owned a smartphone.  Redmayne (2013) analyzed the cell phone and cordless phone use of youth in New Zealand. She found that in 4 years about 6% of participants reached the 1640 hour threshold that would increase the risk for brain tumors by about 3.77 fold.  She based her analysis on the Interphone study results after 10 years of use and also looked at Hardell’s  case-controlled glioma studies which indicate a 3 to 4 fold increase in risk for brain tumors with long term use.

CDC Reports Increase in Many Pediatric Cancers- Including Thyroid and Brain

A 2018 CDC Report indicates an increase in pediatric cancers from 2001to 2014. They found “cancer was increasing for lymphoma, thyroid, brain, kidney, and liver cancer and was decreasing for melanoma.”   CDC 2018 . Scroll to page 108 of the CDC 67th Annual Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Conference Booklet to view abstract by Dr. David Siegel et al . See also EH Trust info at CDC Finds Increase in Brain, Liver and Thyroid

Incidence Rates and Trends of Pediatric Cancer — United States, 2001–2014. Page 108 of booklet.

Brain Cancer Rising in England

A recent study by Dr. Alasdair Philips (2018) looked at the incidence in glioblastoma multiforme from 1995-2015. Their research  revealed a  “sustained and highly statistically significant ASR rise in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) across all ages. The ASR for GBM more than doubled from 2.4 to 5.0.”  They conclude,”The rise cannot be fully accounted for by promotion of lower–grade tumours, random chance or improvement in diagnostic techniques as it affects specific areas of the brain and only one type of brain tumour. Despite the large variation in case numbers by age, the percentage rise is similar across the age groups, which suggests widespread environmental or lifestyle factors may be responsible.”

Brain Cancer Numbers Rising in France

The French Public Health Agency, Santa Publique France, has reported a four-fold increase in cases of glioblastoma brain tumors from 1990 to 2018. Dr. Marc Arazi has an English translation of the report on his website.

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The French Government in 2019  Requested That Cell Phones be Tested next to the Body 

On Oct 25, 2019 The French Government issued a press release to ask citizens to reduce their exposure to cell phone radiation, and also ask manufactures to develop phones with lower RF emissions. This was clearly a response to the now transparent data from their own health agency.

National Toxicology Report on Cell Phones and Cancer

The National Toxicology Program Report on Cell Phones and Cancer NTP Final Technical Report March 26, 2018 shows clear evidence of carcinogenicity of cell phone radiation for tumors of the heart and a significant association with brain tumors. This 10 year  and $25 million dollar study from NIEHS strongly supports the link between cell phone use and brain tumors, as well as other tumors(pancreas, adrenal medulla). No longer can physicists deny that non-ionizing radiation is only harmful if it heats the tissue. NTP Study Analysis and Links

Researchers Call for Cell Phone Radiation to be Classified as a Class 1  Carcinogen

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, listed non-ionizing radiation from cell phones and other wireless devices a class 2B possible carcinogen in 2011, largely based on brain tumor studies.  Considering new scientific evidence researchers have called for a change in the IARC classification of wireless radiofrequencies from a Class 2B possible carcinogen to a Class 1 known carcinogen. Hardell and Carberg Bioinitiative Update

Dr Lennart Hardell and Michael Carlberg: NTP study shows clear evidence of cancer and should be listed by IARC as Group 1 Human Carcinogen

Well known researchers, Dr. Lennart Hardell and Michael Carlberg published a thorough examination of the NTP study results in the October 2018 issue of The  International Journal of Oncology. They stated , “We conclude that there is clear evidence that RF radiation is a human carcinogen, causing glioma and vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma). There is some evidence of an increased risk of developing thyroid cancer, and clear evidence that RF radiation is a multi‑site carcinogen. Based on the Preamble to the IARC Monographs, RF radiation should be classified as carcinogenic to humans, Group 1.”

The Interphone Study

The Interphone Study was initiated in 2000 as an international set of case-controlled studies in 13 countries to assess the relationship between brain cancer risk and phone use. Many use this study to state there is no increase in brain cancer with cell phone use. A closer look indicates that with the highest user group there is an association. The World Health Organization (WHO) commented on the study, “the largest ever international study of mobile phone safety has concluded that the devices do not raise the risk of brain cancer, except for a possible slight increase in tumours among the most intensive users. ….. Biases and errors limit the strength of the conclusions that can be drawn from these analyses and prevent a causal interpretation.”

The WHO also notes that at the time of the study cell phone use was not prevalent. They state, “The majority of subjects were not heavy mobile phone users by today’s standards. The median lifetime cumulative call time was around 100 hours, with a median of 2 to 2 1⁄2 hours of reported use per month. The cut-point for the heaviest 10% of users (1640 hours lifetime), spread out over 10 years, corresponds to about a half-hour per day.”

Methodological Limitations and Flaws in Conclusions of Interphone Study

Soderqvist et al (2012) discusses the flaws in the conclusions of the Interphone study in Review of four publications on the Danish cohort study on mobile phone subscribers and risk of brain tumors.  The authors note the following, “Although at least non-response and recall bias can be excluded, the study has serious limitations related to exposure assessment. In fact, these limitations cloud the findings of the four reports to such an extent that render them uninformative at best. At worst, they may be used in a seemingly solid argument against an increased risk–as reassuring results from a large nationwide cohort study, which rules out not only non-response and recall bias but also an increased risk as indicated by tight confidence intervals.”

Researchers discuss fundamental design flaws in  Cell Phones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern regarding the Interphone Study as well as subsequent studies including:

  • Selection bias
  • Lack of consideration of “cordless phones” as equal to cell phones with regards to exposure
  • Insufficient latency time to expect tumor diagnosis
  • Exclusion of children and young adults in the study
  • Exclusion of people who had died of their tumor or who were to ill to be interviewed as a consequence of their brain tumor.

Higher Quality, Independent Studies Show an Increase in Brain Tumors

This issue has been surrounded by controversy and other factors affecting the results of research studies have been investigated. Reviews of the literature on cell phones and brain cancer have indicated that the mostly industry-funded research found no increase in brain tumors, while almost all of the independent studies found a significant increase in brain tumors from cell phones and cordless phones. Five different reviews by Prasad (2017), Morgan (2015), Huss (2007), Levis (2012) and Myung (2009) indicate that the quality of the study and funding source have an influence on the results.  Blinded studies done by independent researchers gave consistent results with regards to causal effect of cell phones and cordless phones and brain tumors on the ipsilateral side after 10 years of use.

Research to define effects of radio frequency EMR on causation of brain cancer are complicated by shifts in phone usage, changes in device use, variation in diagnostic methods and reporting, latency for brain cancer development and need for robust brain tumor registries with robust data questionnaires on cell phone use as well as information on funding bias.  The weight of evidence may appear to be equal on both sides, however, taking into account inherent bias may shift the “weight of evidence” into a more precautionary perspective, especially for young people who will have much higher lifetime exposure.

New Meta-analysis Shows Increased Risk of Brain Tumors with Cell Phone Use

The  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a systematic review and meta-analysis of case-controlled research on cell phone use and tumor risk on November 2020 (Choi et al).  The comprehensive research found “significant evidence linking cellular phone use to increased tumor risk, especially among cell phone users with cumulative cell phone use of 1000 or more hours in their lifetime, which corresponds to about 17 min per day over 10 years,” The association was found in the high quality studies, especially by Hardell et al.  South Korean researchers issued a press release which was translated into English with Professor Myung stating, “Even before the dangers of cell phones are clearly identified, we recommend that you refrain from using cell phones for a long period of time based on the precautionary principle. It is necessary to reduce the use, and when using a mobile phone, keep it 2~3 centimeters away from the face and use earphones with wires as much as possible.Cellular Phone Use and Risk of Tumors: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. (2020) Choi YJ, Moskowitz JM, Myung SK et al. Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020, 17(21), 8079.

The first court case won by the plaintiff was in Italy where they found that the excessive use of cell phones caused a person’s cancer. In the judgement the key element  was that the judge removed evidence from industry and only looked at the non-industry funded studies, all or most of which showed a positive association between cell phone use and cancer. Cancer Linked to Cell Phone Use 2017

NTP Study

The most expensive and most robust study from the National Toxicology Program at the NIEHS on cell phones and cancer in 2016 and 2018 demonstrated an increase in schwannomas and gliomas in rat studies. These are the same types of tumors increased in epidemiological studies on long term cell phone use and brain tumors. Cancerous and precancerous lesions in the NTP study were found in 1 in 12 male rats exposed with none of the control  group developing cancer. DNA abnormalities were also seen. Some have criticized the NTP study, however, respected scientists, including the designer of the study, have provided information on how scientific research is conducted on lab animals and why this is relevant to human health. on NTP Study

Brain Tumor Incidence is Increasing

 Brain tumors are on the rise in some subgroups, according to recent statistical surveys. The data show that the incidence of benign brain tumors is increasing in the United States, Italy and Sweden. See a list of Brain Cancer Incidence Published Articles below.  Although some argue it is due to better diagnostic imaging and question that there is any elevation in incidence,  Paula de Robles (2015) states, “Based on our findings, we can conclude that there is a need to produce more accurate and comparable incidence and prevalence estimates of primary brain tumors across the world.”

United States: According to the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, using data from 1988 to 2013, the incidence rates of glioblastoma multiforme has risen significantly among both non-hispanic white males (0.7% per year) and non-hispanic white females (1.1% per year).  Dolecek (2015) found that the incidence of meningioma, a non-malignant brain tumor, is Increasing in the U.S.  Meningiomas arise from the thin meninges membrane which covers the brain, supports the structure of the brain with fine fibrous tissues and protects the brain by producing spinal fluid as well. The meninges are located just under the skull and closer to RF radiation  from cell phones.  Gittleman’s analysis of  recent US cancer statistics in 2015 revealed in adults a significant increase in nonmalignant CNS tumors, in adolescents a significant increase in malignant and nonmalignant CNS tumors, and in children a significant increase in malignant CNS tumors.

Zada (2012)  reported data from 1192-2006 that  “Data from 3 major cancer registries demonstrate increased incidences of GBMs in the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and cerebellum,”. Glioblastomas are the most common and most malignant of glial tumors.

 Italy: In Italy, the a AIRTUM Working Group, found  an annual increase of 1.8% in central nervous system neoplasms in the period 1988-2008, wihen both malignant and non-malignant tumors were combined.

Sweden: Hardell and Carlberg (2015) reported that brain tumor rates have been increasing in Sweden based upon the Swedish National Inpatient Registry data.  Hardell and Carlberg (2017) reported that brain tumors of unknown type increased from 2007-2015, especially in the age group 20-39 years of age. According to the authors, “This may be explained by higher risk for brain tumor in subjects with first use of a wireless phone before the age of 20 years taking a reasonable latency period.”

Hardell (2017) evaluated the Swedish National Inpatient Register and the Swedish Cancer Register  data during 1998-2015 for brain tumors. He divided the groups in two categories, either  before and after 2007. There was a significant rise in incidence of brain tumors after 2007. He noted continued underreporting of cases in Sweden. Brain tumor registries have challenges which may cause inaccurate reporting including lack of pathology classification and lag time for reporting.

Brain Tumors of “Unknown Type”  Rise in Sweden, as ICNIRP shows Intrinsic Bias and Flawed Analysis of RF Risks

A new 2021 article in Reviews of Environmental Health highlights both the intrinsic bias and the flawed basis for safety considerations by ICNIRP, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, which continue to ignore and dismiss the large body of scientific evidence of harm from non-thermal levels of RF radiation. The science has only strengthened since the ICNIRP RF designation as a possible carcinogen in 2011, including effects from both near and far filed exposures, mechanistic studies of oxidative harm as well as DNA damage. The authors state, “Of course, these well documented health hazards from RF-EMF are not well accepted by the telecom industry and its allied experts. Several methods are used to create doubt. Studies are discredited, only partly cited, or even not cited at all [84], [85], [86]. Thereby the uniformed reader gets the wrong information on actual risks. This includes also regulatory agencies and policy makers. Even agencies aimed at setting exposure guidelines may include pro-industry and biased scientists that obscure the true risks [87], [, 88].   ICNIRP was founded in 1992 as a private non-governmental (NGO) organization registered in Munich, Germany that “appoints its own members and is closed to transparency.”  PDF of Open Access Paper 

The Bradford Hill Criteria Strongly Point to Causation

Hardell in (2017) looked at the historical Bradford Hill Criteria used to evaluate hypothesized relationships between occupational and environmental exposures and disease outcomes. He applied it to brain tumors and cell phones, concluding that the evidence fulfilled the criteria and strongly pointed to causation.  The nine “aspects of association” that Hill uses are 1) strength of association 2) consistency 3) specificity 4) temporality 5) biological gradient 6) plausibility 7) coherence 8) experiment, and  9) analogy have been used to evaluate countless hypothesized relationships between occupational and environmental exposures and disease outcomes.

Former High level Government Official Provides Robust Scientific Testimony That Cell Phones Likely Cause Brain Tumors and is Prevented from Being an Expert Witness

Christopher Portier, PhD.,former director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR),  and currently a scientific advisor for the World Health Organization (WHO), provided expert scientific testimony in a long standing cell phone court case, Murray vs Motorola- Expert report Christopher J Portier Murray v Motorola 3-1-2021. His research summary includes gliomas, acoustic neuromas, carcinogenicity studies, initiation and promotion studies, oxidative stress, genotoxicity and co-carcinogenesis. He notes, “The evaluation of whether RF exposure can cause brain tumors in humans requires the review and synthesis of scientific evidence from studies of human  populations (epidemiology), animal cancer studies, and studies investigating the mechanisms through which chemicals[exposures] cause cancer.”   He provided a 176 page report with 441 references. references  with an additional appendix of 291  of his own peer reviewed references.  He concluded, “In my opinion, RF exposure probably causes gliomas and neuromas and, given the human and experimental evidence, I assert that, to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, the probability that RF exposure causes gliomas and neuromas is high.”

For years industry attorney have opposed expert witnesses in Murray vs Motorloa, citing the ” Daubert” clause distinguishing methodology from conclusion for expert witnesses.  Despite his glowing and irrefutable research Mr Portier was rewarded for his diligence and honesty by being  barred from being an expert witness. 

See also

Scientific Literature in Categories Below –

*Highlighted Articles

*Tumor Risk Review Papers

*All Published Articles and Review Papers

*Benign Brain Tumors and Cell Phone Use:  Acoustic Neuromas (Vestibular Schwannomas)

*Brain Cancer Incidence and Type Published Articles

Highlighted and New Articles

Tumor Risk Review Papers 

Brain Tumors Published Articles and Review Papers

  •  Evaluation of mobile phone and cordless phone use and glioma risk using the Bradford Hill viewpoints from 1965 on association or causation.  (2017) Carlberg and Hardell.  Biomed Res Int. 2017;2017:9218486.
  • Mobile phone use and risk of brain tumours: a systematic review of association between study quality, source of funding, and research outcomes. (2017) Prasad et al. Neurol Sci. 2017 May;38(5):797-810. .
  • Mobile phone use and glioma risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis. (2017) Yang M. PLoS One. 2017 May 4;12(5):e0175136.
  • The intracranial distribution of gliomas in relation to exposure from mobile phones: Analyses from the INTERPHONE Study. (2016)  Grell et al. Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Dec 1;184(11):818-828.
  •  Meta-analysis of association between mobile phone use and glioma risk. (2016) Wang Y, Guo X. J Cancer Res Ther. 2016 Dec;12(Supplement).
  • Epidemiology of meningiomas post-Public Law 107-206: The Benign Brain Tumor Cancer Registries Amendment Act. Increasing incidence of nonmalignant meningioma in U.S. (2015)  Dolecek TA. Cancer. 2015 Jul 15;121(14):2400-10.

Benign Brain Tumors and Cell Phone Use:  Acoustic Neuromas (Vestibular Schwannomas)

Brain Cancer Incidence and Type Published Articles

Related Papers