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Communicating evidence and uncertainties on health risks from regular use of mobile phones
  1. Jørn Olsen
  1. Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus C, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jørn Olsen, Department of Epidemiology, University of California–Los Angeles School of Public Health, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, USA; jo{at}

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The use of mobile phones is becoming one of the most widespread modes of exposure of the population to non-ionising radiation1 2; this kind of radiation exposure is still not related to any disease. So far, the only well-documented health effect is acquiring injuries from accidents caused by the distraction a phone call can make while driving. This is a serious risk that justifies stronger actions than what is being taken by most countries, especially since innocent bystanders are also being exposed to harm. Despite substantial research investments, there is at present no coherent body of work that documents this exposure to cause any other disease. We have no sick persons of whom we can safely say that they would not have had their disease had they not used the phone, except perhaps the driver that missed the traffic light while talking on his mobile phone. Nor do we have many diseases where we can safely say that they are never caused by the use of mobile phones. For well-monitored diseases like brain cancers, we may say that it is unlikely that the exposure is a strong cause with a high-risk ratio, at least if the induction period is <10 years. If the exposure increases the risk …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.