Aims: Residents of one street expressed concern about the number of incident cancers, following the installation of a nearby mobile phone base station. The investigation explored whether the base station could be responsible for the cancers. Methods: Data were collected from residents' medical records. GPs and oncologists provided further information. Results: Ward-level cancer incidence and mortality data were also obtained, over four threeyear time periods. A total of 19 residents had developed cancer. The collection of cancers did not fulfil the criteria for a cancer cluster. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) for all malignant neoplasms (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers) in females (1.38 (95% CI, 1.08-1.74)) and all persons (1.27 (CI, 1.06-1.51)) were significantly higher than in the West Midlands during 2001-3. There were no significant differences for colorectal, female breast and prostate cancers, for any time period. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) for non-melanoma skin cancers in males and all persons was significantly lower than in the West Midlands during 1999-2001, and significantly lower in males, females and all persons during 2002-4. Conclusions: We cannot conclude that the base station was responsible for the cancers. It is unlikely that information around a single base station can either demonstrate or exclude causality.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Dr Middleton is funded by the National lnstitute for Health Research (NIHR) through the Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care for Birmingham and Black Country (CLAHRC-BBC) programme. This paper has been prepared under the auspices of the CLAHRC-BBC knowledge management programme. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health.
- base station
- mobile telephony
- radio waves