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    Environmental Research
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    Analyses of temporal and spatial patterns of glioblastoma multiforme and T other 13826-64-7 cancer subtypes in relation to mobile phones using synthetic counterfactuals
    Frank de Vocht
    Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, 39 Whatley Road, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK
    Brain cancer
    Glioblastoma multiforme
    Mobile phones
    Structural timeseries 
    This study assesses whether temporal trends in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in different brain regions, and of different malignant and benign (including acoustic neuroma and meningioma) subtypes in the temporal lobe, could be associated with mobile phone use. Annual 1985–2005 incidence of brain cancer subtypes for England were linked to population-level covariates. Bayesian structural timeseries were used to create 2006–2014 counterfactual trends, and differences with measured newly diagnosed cases were interpreted as causal effects. Increases in excess of the counterfactuals for GBM were found in the temporal (+38% [95% Credible Interval -7%,78%]) and frontal (+36% [-8%,77%]) lobes, which were in agreement with hypothesised temporal and spatial mechanisms of mobile phone usage, and cerebellum (+59% [-0%,120%]). However, effects were pri-marily present in older age groups, with largest effects in 75 + and 85 + groups, indicating mobile phone use is unlikely to have been an important putative factor. There was no evidence of an effect of mobile phone use on incidence of acoustic neuroma and meningioma. Although 1985–2014 trends in GBM in the temporal and frontal lobes, and probably cerebellum, seem consistent with mobile phone use as an important putative factor, age-group specific analyses indicate that it is unlikely that this correlation is causal.
    1. Background
    Although both the incidence of certain types of brain cancers (Khurana et al., 2009; De Vocht, 2016; De Vocht et al., 2011; Zada et al., 2012; Yang et al., 2017) and use of mobile phones (and other wireless technology) (Khurana et al., 2009) have been increasing over the last 2 decades, and despite extensive research it remains unclear whether this is a question of causation or correlation (Sienkiewicz et al., 2017). Based on all available evidence at the time, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded in 2011 that exposure to radiofrequency radiation (RF) in the frequency range 30 kHz to 300 GHz, which includes the frequencies used by mobile phones (Cardis et al., 2011), should be classified as 2B (possibly carcinogenic to hu-mans) taking into account positive associations between glioma and acoustic neuroma, and exposure to RF-EMF from wireless phones (Baan et al., 2011). Results from the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in rats seem to support this, with results suggesting an increased incidence of malignant glioma, as well as schwannomas of the heart in male, but not female, rats after whole-body averaged Specific Absorption Rate