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Mobile users twice as likely to get tumours - report

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People who've been using their mobile phone for ten years or more are twice as likely to develop a particular kind of tumour on the side of the head where they normally hold their handset.

Acoustic Neuroma (AN) is a benign tumour that grows on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain. The tumour does not cause a typical pattern of symptoms, making early diagnosis difficult. However, the tumours can cause loss of hearing, tinnitus, difficulty balancing and even facial paralysis. The only treatment is surgery.

The findings have been published by researchers at the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet, in Sweden. It is the first part of a World Health Organisation-backed study called INTERPHONE.

Normally, AN occurs in one in every 100,000 members of the population every year. The study involved 150 AN patients and 600 healthy controls, all identified over a three year period.

The researchers found that of the AN patients, long term mobile users were 1.9 times more likely to develop AN, and 3.9 times more likely to develop the tumours on the handset side of the head.

However, the 10-year period that qualifies a patient as a long term phone user goes back to include a time when only analogue phones were available. The researchers stress that there is no way to determine whether GSM phones alone would produce similar results.

The findings do appear to support other Swedish research into the effects of mobile phone use. Research published in 2001 suggested that those who had used mobile phones for more than 10 years were 3.5 times as likely to develop AN. Other research into the area identified no link at all between phone use and tumour growth. ®

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