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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Commentary

Childhood brain tumours and use of mobile phones: comparison of a case–control study with incidence data

Denis Aydin12, Maria Feychting3, Joachim Schüz4, Martin Röösli12* and CEFALO study team

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland

2 University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland

3 Department of Epidemiology, Institute for Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

4 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Section of Environment and Radiation, Lyon, France

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Environmental Health 2012, 11:35  doi:10.1186/1476-069X-11-35

Published: 20 May 2012


The first case–control study on mobile phone use and brain tumour risk among children and adolescents (CEFALO study) has recently been published. In a commentary published in Environmental Health, Söderqvist and colleagues argued that CEFALO suggests an increased brain tumour risk in relation to wireless phone use. In this article, we respond and show why consistency checks of case–control study results with observed time trends of incidence rates are essential, given the well described limitations of case–control studies and the steep increase of mobile phone use among children and adolescents during the last decade. There is no plausible explanation of how a notably increased risk from use of wireless phones would correspond to the relatively stable incidence time trends for brain tumours among children and adolescents observed in the Nordic countries. Nevertheless, an increased risk restricted to heavy mobile phone use, to very early life exposure, or to rare subtypes of brain tumours may be compatible with stable incidence trends at this time and thus further monitoring of childhood brain tumour incidence rate time trends is warranted.

Mobile phone; Brain tumour; Children; Adolescents; Incidence rates trends; CEFALO