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EMR Literature Survey - October 2016

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

By: de Vocht F
Published in: Environ Int 2016; 97: 100-107

SUMMARY

This is an ecological study that investigated the relationship between mobile phone use and brain cancer. The incidence data on brain cancer subtypes were compared to the mobile phone subscription using computer models, with latency periods of 5, 10, and 15 years. Mobile phone use can be hypothesised to be associated with the disease if there were differences between measured and modelled data. The authors found no relationship between mobile phone use and three brain cancer subtypes however for malignant neoplasms of the temporal lobe, the increase was 35% during 2005-2014 (assuming 10-year latency period).

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Commentary by ARPANSA

This study is an update from a previous ecological study conducted by de Vocht et al which was reviewed in the January 2011 report. The previous study (which captured period of 1998-2007) found a small increase in the rate of cancers in the temporal lobe (<1 additional case per 100,000 people in that period). This study found a substantial increase in the rate of malignant neoplasms of the temporal lobe (20-120 additional cases per 100,000 people in the period 2005-2014) if mobile phone use is assumed as a causal factor. It should be noted however that ecological studies rely on data on the population level and not the individual level. It should also be pointed out that de Vocht et al did not use age-standardised incidence rates so any rise could be attributed to better diagnostic techniques and/or an ageing population.

The most recent ecological study that investigated the association between brain cancer and mobile phone use in Australia was conducted by Chapman et al (reported in May 2016’s report). The study by Chapman et al however did not investigate brain cancer sub-types. Chapman et al study found that there is no evidence of any rise of brain cancer in any age group that could be attributed to mobile phones.


The effects of a 50-Hz magnetic field on the cardiovascular system in rats

By: Zhou L, Wan B, Liu X, Zhang Y, Lai J, Ruan G, He M, Chen C, Wang DW
Published in: J Radiat Res 2016

SUMMARY

This is an animal study which investigated whether extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields (MF) affect the cardiovascular system. A total of 128 rats were divided into two groups: (i) exposed (at a frequency of 50 Hertz, Hz and at a magnetic flux density of 100 microtesla, µT) for 20 hours per day, for 24 weeks; (ii) sham-exposed. Examinations on blood pressure, pulse rate, heart rate, and structure of the heart of the exposed group did not reveal any differences to the sham-exposed group. The authors concluded that the ELF MF exposure has no effect on the cardiovascular system.

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A cross-sectional study of the association between mobile phone use and symptoms of ill health

By: Cho YM, Lim HJ, Jang H, Kim K, Choi JW, Shin C, Lee SK, Kwon JH, Kim N
Published in: Environ Health Toxicol 2016

SUMMARY

This cross-sectional study investigated the association between mobile phone use and subjective symptoms. A total of 532 subjects were interviewed for their mobile phone use and whether they experienced subjective symptoms using various questionnaires. The authors found that call duration was not associated with any health effects other than headache severity, where increased duration of call was associated with more severe headache.

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Radiofrequency Exposure Amongst Employees of Mobile Network Operators and Broadcasters

By: Litchfield I, van Tongeren M, Sorahan T
Published in: Radiat Prot Dosimetry 2016

SUMMARY

This is a measurement study which investigated the radiofrequency (RF) exposure of workers in the telecommunications industry. A total of seven sites that hosted either broadcasting transmitters or mobile phone transmitters or both were measured for the RF levels in the study. The study found that the riggers working in radio and TV broadcast companies experienced the highest RF exposure and for the longest duration compared to workers for mobile phone operators.

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Improving precautionary communication in the EMF field? Effects of making messages consistent and explaining the effectiveness of precautions

By: Boehmert C, Wiedemann P, Croft R
Published in: Int J Environ Res Public Health 2016; 13 (10): 992-

SUMMARY

This is an Australian cross-sectional study that looked into the effects of precautionary messages related to the RF exposure on the public’s perceived level of risk. The precautionary messages related to the use of RF devices (especially mobile phones) have previously been shown to increase public concern about RF radiation. A total of 1717 subjects were surveyed in the study to test two ways of improving the messages in order to reduce the perceived level of risk. The authors found that improving precautionary messages for their consistency and effectiveness do not reduce risk perception.

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