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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

New Zealand adolescents’ cellphone and cordless phone user-habits: are they at increased risk of brain tumours already? A cross-sectional study

Mary Redmayne

Author Affiliations

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Science Faculty, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Environmental Health 2013, 12:5  doi:10.1186/1476-069X-12-5

Published: 10 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Cellphone and cordless phone use is very prevalent among early adolescents, but the extent and types of use is not well documented. This paper explores how, and to what extent, New Zealand adolescents are typically using and exposed to active cellphones and cordless phones, and considers implications of this in relation to brain tumour risk, with reference to current research findings.

Methods

This cross-sectional study recruited 373 Year 7 and 8 school students with a mean age of 12.3 years (range 10.3-13.7 years) from the Wellington region of New Zealand. Participants completed a questionnaire and measured their normal body-to-phone texting distances. Main exposure-metrics included self-reported time spent with an active cellphone close to the body, estimated time and number of calls on both phone types, estimated and actual extent of SMS text-messaging, cellphone functions used and people texted. Statistical analyses used Pearson Chi2 tests and Pearson’s correlation coefficient (r). Analyses were undertaken using SPSS version 19.0.

Results

Both cellphones and cordless phones were used by approximately 90% of students. A third of participants had already used a cordless phone for ≥ 7 years. In 4 years from the survey to mid-2013, the cordless phone use of 6% of participants would equal that of the highest Interphone decile (≥ 1640 hours), at the surveyed rate of use. High cellphone use was related to cellphone location at night, being woken regularly, and being tired at school. More than a third of parents thought cellphones carried a moderate-to-high health risk for their child.

Conclusions

While cellphones were very popular for entertainment and social interaction via texting, cordless phones were most popular for calls. If their use continued at the reported rate, many would be at increased risk of specific brain tumours by their mid-teens, based on findings of the Interphone and Hardell-group studies.

Keywords:
Mobile phone; Cellphone; Adolescents; Risk; Habits; Brain tumour