Since many of us our glued to our cell phones throughout the day, it’s natural to worry whether all those radio waves and the radiation are harming us. For every handful of studies that show no correlation between heavy cell phone use and brain cancer, there are a few that do. However, a 15-year study might finally put this issue to rest. For now. Until the next study comes along and resets this fear all over again.
According to Ars Technica:
By processing all this data, a research team was able to identify nearly 360,000 people who had cell phone subscriptions during the study period, along with a few million controls. Collectively, the subscription holders logged over 3.8 million person-years of cell phone time. The only significant weakness to the study is that the authors couldn’t associate corporate accounts with individual users, so they weren’t considered in the analysis.
An association with cancer was measured through what’s called the “incidence rate ratio,” which is exactly what it sounds like: it’s the ratio between the rate at which the experimental population ended up with cancer and the rate at which the controls ended up with cancer (the calculations used a log linear Poisson regression model, for those statistically inclined). Things like age, income, and the number of years that a person had a cellphone plan were all adjusted for.
In the end, almost nothing stood out; most ratios were essentially 1, meaning that there was no observed link between the phone users and cancer. There was a slight but insignificant rise in gliomas in men, but rates were highest in the most recent subscribers. There was almost no change among women. For meningiomas, male cell phone users actually had some cancer protection (not statistically significant, but a larger change than in gliomas). Women again saw almost no difference.
I was unaware of this, but basically every adult citizen in Denmark has been issued an identification number from the government, and they’ve been doing this since 1968. By tracking those 360,000 adults via the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, researchers were able to come to their conclusions.
For the paranoid, maybe 15 years isn’t enough to convince them, but what else are you going to? You’re probably as likely to get cancer from staring at this screen and finishing these words.