Study type: Epidemiological study (observational study, theoretical study)

Inferring the 1985-2014 impact of mobile phone use on selected brain cancer subtypes using Bayesian structural time series and synthetic controls. epidem.

Published in: Environ Int 2016; 97: 100-107

Aim of study (acc. to author)

This study aims to analyze time series of specific brain cancer subtypes and locations covering the time period of 1985–2014 in England. Additionally, the results are compared to a modelled 'synthetic England' time series.

Further details

In these analyses, the year 1995 was selected as reference year, when mobile phone penetration in England reached about 10% and mobile phones were introduced in society 10 years before. Three specific latency periods (5, 10 and 15 years) for development of brain tumor were modelled.
By applying several covariate data (e.g. annual population estimates, median age of the UK population, population prevalence of cigarette smokers and never smokers, urbanization rate, quality of cancer registration) a ‘synthetic England’ was constructed which describes what would have happened if mobile phones have not been introduced. Finally, the (causal) impact of mobile phone use was estimated by comparing the time series in the ‘synthetic England’ with the measured annual number of registered new cases.

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation:




Statistical analysis method:

Conclusion (acc. to author)

There is no evidence of an increase in malignant glioma, glioblastoma, or malignant neoplasms of the parietal lobe not predicted in the ‘synthetic England’ time series: i.e., the time trends in England and the 'synthetic England' were similar. The annual incidence of malignant neoplasms of the temporal lobe however, has increased faster than expected. After a latency period of 10 years the increase was measurable and indicated an additional increase of 35% (Bayes' Credible Interval 9%-59%) during 2005–2014; corresponding to an additional 188 (Bayes' Credible Interval 48–324) cases annually.
The author concludes that a causal factor, of which mobile phone use (and possibly other wireless equipment) is in agreement with the hypothesized temporal association, is related to an increased risk of developing malignant neoplasms in the temporal lobe.

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