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BMJ Open. 2018 Dec 9;8(12):e024489. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-024489.

Mobile phone use and incidence of brain tumour histological types, grading or anatomical location: a population-based ecological study.

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Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, Yallambie, Victoria, Australia.
School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research, Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.



Some studies have reported increasing trends in certain brain tumours and a possible link with mobile phone use has been suggested. We examined the incidence time trends of brain tumour in Australia for three distinct time periods to ascertain the influence of improved diagnostic technologies and increase in mobile phone use on the incidence of brain tumours.


In a population-based ecological study, we examined trends of brain tumour over the periods 1982-1992, 1993-2002 and 2003-2013. We further compared the observed incidence during the period of substantial mobile phone use (2003-2013) with predicted (modelled) incidence for the same period by applying various relative risks, latency periods and mobile phone use scenarios.


National Australian incidence registration data on primary cancers of the brain diagnosed between 1982 and 2013.


16 825 eligible brain cancer cases aged 20-59 from all of Australia (10 083 males and 6742 females).


Annual percentage change (APC) in brain tumour incidence based on Poisson regression analysis.


The overall brain tumour rates remained stable during all three periods. There was an increase in glioblastoma during 1993-2002 (APC 2.3, 95% CI 0.8 to 3.7) which was likely due to advances in the use of MRI during that period. There were no increases in any brain tumour types, including glioma (-0.6, -1.4 to 0.2) and glioblastoma (0.8, -0.4 to 2.0), during the period of substantial mobile phone use from 2003 to 2013. During that period, there was also no increase in glioma of the temporal lobe (0.5, -1.3 to 2.3), which is the location most exposed when using a mobile phone. Predicted incidence rates were higher than the observed rates for latency periods up to 15 years.


In Australia, there has been no increase in any brain tumour histological type or glioma location that can be attributed to mobile phones.


brain cancer; glioblastoma; glioma; incidence trends; mobile phone

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: ME has received personal fees from the New Zealand Government Health Department on an independent report on specified health issues of electric and magnetic fields.

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