A study says radiation doesn't cause cancer in kids—but watchdog groups say reporters have misunderstood the results
The results of an unprecedented study published yesterday in the Journal of The National Cancer Institute have been rocketing around the Internet: "Study Sees No Cellphone-Cancer Ties"; "Cellphones don't increase cancer risk in kids, study says"; "Cellphones, kids and cancer: Don't worry, be happy?". Less attention, however, has been paid to the fact that at least two prominent environmental health groups believe the study is fundamentally flawed. In the words of the Environmental Working Group, "Although parents are likely feeling reassured by the first media headlines about a new Swiss study of brain tumor risk in children using cell phones, the findings are actually quite troubling."
The new report, spearheaded by lead author Martin Roosli of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, presents the results of a case-control study of 352 brain cancer patients diagnosed between 2004 and 2008 and 646 control subjects, all of them ages seven to 19 and residing in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, or Switzerland. In-person interviews with a parent present were used to estimate each person's cell phone use, and phone company records, when available, were used to confirm the data. As John D. Boice and Robert E. Tarone of the International Epidemiology Institute write in an op-ed accompanying the study, "Consistent with virtually all studies of adults exposed to radio frequency waves, no convincing evidence was found that children who use cell phones are at higher risk of developing a brain tumor than children who do not regularly use cell phones."