At work, on the train, out for dinner, before bed and even on the toilet; it seems we can’t go anywhere without our phones anymore.
Which is why we all go into meltdown when we’re told this constant exposure is damaging our health and increases our risk of brain cancer.
So how worried should we really be? According to a new study on the topic by the University of Sydney published in Cancer Epidemiology, you can sleep easy. (Watch: Talking of mobile phones – remember Adele’s flip phone? Post continues after video.)
Is there a link?
Investigating the claims purported by media and speakers such as Devra Davis, the researchers sought to answer one question; has the incidence of brain cancer risen in Australia since the introduction of mobile phones 29 years ago?
The results were surprising. Examining the association between age and gender-specific incidence rates of 19,858 men and 14,222 women diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia between 1982-2012, and national mobile phone usage data from 1987-2012, they found that brain cancer incidence rates had risen “only slightly” in males but had remained stable over the past 30 years for females.
“Looking at every different age group that we examined, all of the age groups bar one had flat line incidence of cancer meaning that it wasn’t going up or down but had remained straight. These results continue from the era prior to mobile phones being available in Australia,” lead researcher Emeritus Professor Simon Chapman told Mamamia.
Mobile phones were quickly adopted. Just ask Michael Douglas in Wall Street (1987). Image: 20th Century Fox
"So what was causing brain cancer before mobile phones is still causing brain cancer today."
The only age group that reported a rise in brain cancer incidence was those aged 70 plus - and that rise also commenced before mobile phones became widely available in 1987.
"It's not an explanation or link. That's almost certainly due to improvements in diagnostic technologies such as CAT scans which also came in around the same time," says Professor Chapman.
The fact that cancer is a notifiable disease - meaning that every diagnosis has to be reported to a registry - meant that the team were working with a nearly perfect data set.
Australia is now the fifth country to report the same results showing no link between mobile phone usage and brain cancer incidence. The others include the USA, England and Nordic countries. (Post continues after gallery.)