Study type: Epidemiological study (observational study)

Mobile telecommunications and health: report of an investigation into an alleged cancer cluster in Sandwell, West Midlands. epidem.

Published in: Perspect Public Health 2012; 132 (6): 299-304

Aim of study (acc. to author)

A survey was conducted in Sandwell, UK, to investigate the possible association between an alleged cancer cluster and a mobile phone base station.

Further details

Ward-level cancer incidence and mortality data were obtained over four three-year time periods: 1993-1995, 1999-2001, 2001-2003, and 2002-2004. Planning permission for the phone mast and base station was granted in 1997. The installation was upgraded in 2001.

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Exposure

Assessment

Exposure groups

Group Description
Reference group 1 residents of West Midlands
Group 2 residents of one street close to a base station in Sandwell, West Midlands

Population

Study size

Type Value
Total 19
Participants 18

Conclusion (acc. to author)

A total of 19 residents had developed cancer. The collection of cancers did not fulfill the criteria for a cancer cluster (e.g., only one type of cancer).
Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) for all malignant neoplasms (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers) in females (SMR 1.38, CI 1.08-1.74) and all persons (SMR 1.27; CI 1.06-1.51) were significantly higher than in the West Midlands during 2001-2003. There were no significant differences for colorectal, breast and prostate cancers, for any time period. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) for non-melanoma skin cancers in males and all persons was significantly lower than in the West Midlands during 1999-2001, and significantly lower in all groups during 2002-2004.
The authors cannot conclude that the mobile phone base station was responsible for the cancers. It is unlikely that information around a single base station can either demonstrate or exclude causality.

Study funded by

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