Correspondence “Cancers of the brain and CNS: global patterns and trends in incidence”
Published on April 13, 2017
Medical Physicist, Visiting Scientist, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania SAR Mortazavi, Maryam Paknahad
Journal of Biomedical Physics and Engineering (JBPE), in press.
Miranda-Filho et al. in their recently published paper entitled “Cancers of the brain and CNS: global patterns and trends in incidence” provided a global status report of the geographic and temporal variations in the incidence of brain and CNS cancers in different countries across continents worldwide. While the authors confirm the role of genetic risk factors and ionizing radiation exposures, they claimed that no firm conclusion could be drawn about the role of exposure to non-ionizing radiation. The paper authored by Miranda-Filho et al. not only addresses a challenging issue, it can be considered as a good contribution in the field of brain and CNS cancers. However, this correspondence addresses a basic shortcoming of this paper about the role of electromagnetic fields and cancers and provides evidence which shows that exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs), at least at high levels and long term exposures, can increases the risk of cancer.
With great interest, we have read the article by Miranda-Filho et al. entitled “Cancers of the brain and CNS: global patterns and trends in incidence” that is published in the journal of Neuro-Oncology (2016) doi:10.1093/neuonc/now166(1). In this article, the authors provided a global status report of the geographic and temporal variations in the incidence of brain and CNS cancers in different countries across continents worldwide. The paper authored by Miranda-Filho et al. not only addresses a challenging issue, it can be considered as a good contribution in the field of brain and CNS cancers. However, it has at least one basic shortcoming regarding its literature review. The authors confirmed the role of genetic risk factors and ionizing radiation exposures but claim that no firm conclusion could be drawn about the role of exposure to non-ionizing radiation, a new type of inescapable exposure which has been increased exponentially over the past decades “Exposure to non-ionizing radiation, especially radiofrequency fields from mobile phones but also low frequency fields, infections with some viruses, use of hormonal contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, statins, vitamin D level, alcohol, height, BMI, and occupational exposures have been investigated, but no firm conclusions can be drawn at present”. They also cite a Nordic study which could not show any association between increased mobile phone use and glioma “A recent study conducted in the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden) revealed that although mobile phone use increased dramatically, the incidence of glioma remained almost constant between 1979 and 2008 in all 4 countries”. It seems that Miranda-Filho et al. did not consider the findings of other studies which found a significant link between exposure to non-ionizing radiation and cancer. For example, a recent large-scale study conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) revealed statistically significant increases in cancer in rodents exposed to GSM or CDMA signals for two-years. This study showed that when the intensity of the radiation increased, the incidence of cancer among the rats also increased (2). This 25,000,000 USD study that is the most complex study completed by the NTP, showed that the occurrence of malignant gliomas in the brain and schwannomas of the heart, can be linked to exposure to mobile phone radiofrequency radiation (RFR) “The occurrences of two tumor types in male Harlan Sprague Dawley rats exposed to RFR, malignant gliomas in the brain and schwannomas of the heart, were considered of particular interest, and are the subject of this report”.
It is worth noting that the NTP study is criticized for its possible flaws by some researchers. In this light we can even exclude this study and consider other studies which seem to be more valid. Bortkiewicz et al. have recently performed a meta-analysis and reported that their findings supported this hypothesis that long-term use of mobile phones was linked to increases risk of intracranial tumors (3). Another meta-analysis performed recently by Wang and Guo showed a significant association between mobile phone use (> 5 years use) and the risk of glioma(4). Furthermore, Yakymenko et al. have previously reviewed the published data on carcinogenic effects of long term exposure to low intensity microwave radiation(5). They stated that there were reports indicating that exposure to low intensity microwave could lead to cancer progression in laboratory animals and humans. They also stated that the carcinogenic effect of these radiations was more prominent for long term exposures (> 10 years).
Moreover, as Miranda-Filho et al. had claimed that in case of low frequency fields there is no firm conclusions at present, it is worth noting that the findings of a study performed by Akbarnejad et al. showed that the proliferation and apoptosis of human glioblastoma multiforme cell lines were affected by exposure to extremely low-frequency pulsed electromagnetic fields (ELF-PEMFs). Findings of their study showed that ELF-PEMFs could promote either proliferation or cell death (the mode of action was dependent on physical parameters such as the amplitude, frequency and exposure time) (6).
1. Miranda-Filho A, Piñeros M, Soerjomataram I, Deltour I, Bray F. Cancers of the brain and CNS: global patterns and trends in incidence. Neuro-Oncology. 2016:now166.
2. Wyde M, Cesta M, Blystone C, Elmore S, Foster P, Hooth M, et al. Report of Partial findings from the National Toxicology Program Carcinogenesis Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation in Hsd: Sprague Dawley® SD rats (Whole Body Exposure). bioRxiv. 2016:055699.
3. Bortkiewicz A, Gadzicka E, Szymczak W. Mobile phone use and risk for intracranial tumors and salivary gland tumors – A meta-analysis. International journal of occupational medicine and environmental health. 2017 Feb 21;30(1):27-43. PubMed PMID: 28220905. Epub 2017/02/22. eng.
4. Wang Y, Guo X. Meta-analysis of association between mobile phone use and glioma risk. Journal of cancer research and therapeutics. 2016 Dec;12(Supplement):C298-C300. PubMed PMID: 28230042. Epub 2017/02/24. eng.
5. Yakymenko I, Sidorik E, Kyrylenko S, Chekhun V. Long-term exposure to microwave radiation provokes cancer growth: evidences from radars and mobile communication systems. Experimental oncology. 2011 Jun;33(2):62-70. PubMed PMID: 21716201. Epub 2011/07/01. eng.
6. Akbarnejad Z, Eskandary H, Vergallo C, Nematollahi-Mahani SN, Dini L, Darvishzadeh-Mahani F, et al. Effects of extremely low-frequency pulsed electromagnetic fields (ELF-PEMFs) on glioblastoma cells (U87). Electromagnetic biology and medicine. 2016 Nov 22:1-10. PubMed PMID: 27874284. Epub 2016/11/23. eng.