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ANA 2012 Patient Survey

In a continuing effort to advance our understanding of the acoustic neuroma condition, Acoustic Neuroma Association® conducted a survey of acoustic neuroma patients in 2012. The results can be accessed by clicking here Patient Survey.  Thank you to all who participated in our 2012 Patient Survey.

Cell Phones and Acoustic Neuroma

June 2011

Note: In recent press reports that link cell phones to cancer, there have been references to acoustic neuromas being in the risk category. Acoustic neuroma is NOT a cancerous brain tumor – it is a benign, non-malignant brain tumor, which is NOT a form of cancer.

CINCINNATI, June 2, 2011 – John M. Tew, MD, a neurosurgeon with the Mayfield Clinic and Co-Chair of the Acoustic Neuroma Association’s® Medical Advisory Board, reiterated his position that cell phone users should avoid placing the phones next to their head during a conversation. Dr. Tew re-stated the position following the release of a statement by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization, describing cell phone use as a possible cancer risk.

The IARC placed the use of cell phones in the same category for cancer risk as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform. A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the United States, evaluated exposure data, studies of cancer in humans, studies of cancer in experimental animals, and mechanistic and other relevant data to reach their conclusion. They concluded that the evidence for glioma (a malignant brain tumor) and acoustic neuroma (a benign brain tumor) was limited among cell phone users and was inadequate to draw conclusions for other types of cancers.

“We have always said that cell phone users should avoid placing the phone to their ear,” said Dr. Tew, who is also Clinical Director of the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute. “A wireless or remote receiver or a speaker setting should be used for frequent or extended conversations.”

Dr. Tew said the issue of children’s exposure to non-ionizing radiation from cell phones is especially important, and that researchers and practitioners at the Mayfield Clinic and UC Brain Tumor Center are following the issue closely and with concern. Children’s brains absorb more radiofrequency energy from cell phones because their skulls are thinner. (The skull of a 10-year-old is a few millimeters thick; an adult’s is at least twice the thickness, up to 15 millimeters thick.)

“We’re not ready yet to say that cell phones cause cancer because it has not been proven,” Dr. Tew said. “At the same time, when you don’t know whether something is safe or unsafe, you take the proper precautions, and the proper precautions are to keep the phone away from your head.”

Concern over possible risks from low-level radiation emitted by cell phones, which are used by 4.6 billion people around the world, has grown in recent years with the publication of 30 epidemiological studies. In 2010 a large international study showed that individuals who were in the highest category of heavy cell phone use (reported average: 30 minutes per day over a 10-year period), showed a 40 percent increased risk for glioma.

In 2010 the Acoustic Neuroma Association® Board of Directors published a “cautionary alert” regarding cell phone usage and acoustic neuroma. The statement was endorsed by the ANA Medical Advisory Board.

In response to the WHO’s statement, Dr. Tew made the following recommendations:

  • Avoid use of cell phones while driving and cycling because the risk is comparable to the risk of driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • Keep cell phones away from your head; a safe distance is at least five inches away from the skull. Use an air-tube headset if possible.
  • Limit the use of cell phone whenever possible, particularly in children to reduce exposure to the developing brain.

April 2010

There has been much interest and controversy in the past decade regarding the possible role of mobile phones as a cause of brain tumors. The use of cell phones has become ubiquitous around the world and if they played a causative role in a disease process, even such as causing a benign tumor like an acoustic neuroma (AN), it would have tremendous public health implications. According to the International Telecommunication Union, by 2006, 91 persons out of 100 were cell phone subscribers in developed countries. As many as 32 persons per 100 were subscribers in the developing world.

There have been 25 epidemiologic studies published between 1999 and 2008 trying to examine the role of mobile phones in the etiology of brain tumors, including ANs. Most notably, a large study from Sweden by Hardell and colleagues, and a multi-institutional study involving 16 centers in 13 countries called INTERPHONE, have admirably tried to answer this important question.

Overall, the best interpretation of the results of these studies does not demonstrate support for an increased risk of developing an AN  with frequent cell phone users.

However, the science is very suggestive that the most malignant brain cancer (glioblastoma) and a benign brain tumor of the auditory nerve (acoustic neuroma) increased in cell phone users after 10 years of use, and the effect is more pronounced in children’s brains. But the science is not absolutely positive, and research in this area is continuing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that long-term use of cell phones may be linked to elevated risk of some types of brain issues. The conclusion, which is reportedly still inconclusive, is derived from a landmark international study overseen by the WHO that has lasted for decades.

The results, though not entirely conclusive, clearly have concerned the WHO. Its head, Dr. Elizabeth Cardis, is quoted as saying “In the absence of definitive results and in the light of a number of studies which, though limited, suggest a possible effect of radiofrequency radiation, precautions are important.” There is particular concern regarding use by children, as their thinner skulls are less likely to shield the brain from harmful frequencies.

The Food and Drug Administration says the research “does not allow us to conclude that mobile phones are absolutely safe, or that they are unsafe.” Those who cannot avoid using cell phones may consider the advice offered by the Environmental Working Group to minimize their exposure to radiation.

  • Use a low-level radiation cell phone. Check out for the best 10 cell phones that emit low-level radiation.
  • Use a headset or speaker.
  • Listen more and talk less. Cell phones emit radiation when you talk or text, but not when you are receiving signals or messages.
  • Hold your cell phone away from your body.
  • Text more and talk less.
  • Stop trying to communicate when the signal is poor. Poor signals mean your cell phone needs to send stronger signals (higher level radiation) to the tower.
  • Don’t allow your children to use or play with your cell phones. Children’s brains absorb twice as much radiation as adults.
  • Don’t use the “radiation shield.” Radiation shields such an antenna caps or keypad covers reduce the connection quality and force the machine to emit higher radiation to deliver a stronger signal.

ANA Patient Information Booklets

A Glimpse of the Brain - Updated July 2016
Headache Associated with Acoustic Neuroma Treatment - Updated September 2015
Improving Balance Associated with Acoustic Neuroma - Updated May 2015
Acoustic Neuroma Basic Overview - Updated March 2015
Hearing Loss - Rehabilitation for Acoustic Neuroma Patients - Updated September 2014
Eye Care After AN Surgery - Updated February 2014
Diagnosis Acoustic Neuroma - What Next? - Updated February 2014
Facial Nerve and ANA - Possible Damage and Rehabilitation - Updated July 2013



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