The INTERPHONE study: Design, epidemiological methods, and description of the study population

Elisabeth Cardis*, Lesley Richardson, Isabelle Deltour, Bruce Armstrong, Maria Feychting, Christoffer Johansen, Monique Kilkenny, Patricia McKinney, Baruch Modan, Siegal Sadetzki, Joachim Schüz, Anthony Swerdlow, Martine Vrijheid, Anssi Auvinen, Gabriele Berg, Maria Blettner, Joseph Bowman, Julianne Brown, Angela Chetrit, Helle Collatz ChristensenAngus Cook, Sarah Hepworth, Graham Giles, Martine Hours, Ivano Iavarone, Avital Jarus-Hakak, Lars Klaeboe, Daniel Krewski, Susanna Lagorio, Stefan Lönn, Simon Mann, Mary McBride, Kenneth Muir, Louise Nadon, Marie Elise Parent, Neil Pearce, Tiina Salminen, Minouk Schoemaker, Brigitte Schlehofer, Jack Siemiatycki, Masao Taki, Toru Takebayashi, Tore Tynes, Martie Van Tongeren, Paolo Vecchia, Joe Wiart, Alistair Woodward, Naohito Yamaguchi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

218 Citations (Scopus)


The very rapid worldwide increase in mobile phone use in the last decade has generated considerable interest in the possible health effects of exposure to radio frequency (RF) fields. A multinational case-control study, INTERPHONE, was set-up to investigate whether mobile phone use increases the risk of cancer and, more specifically, whether the RF fields emitted by mobile phones are carcinogenic. The study focused on tumours arising in the tissues most exposed to RF fields from mobile phones: glioma, meningioma, acoustic neurinoma and parotid gland tumours. In addition to a detailed history of mobile phone use, information was collected on a number of known and potential risk factors for these tumours. The study was conducted in 13 countries. Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the UK using a common core protocol. This paper describes the study design and methods and the main characteristics of the study population. INTERPHONE is the largest case-control study to date investigating risks related to mobile phone use and to other potential risk factors for the tumours of interest and includes 2,765 glioma, 2,425 meningioma, 1,121 acoustic neurinoma, 109 malignant parotid gland tumour cases and 7,658 controls. Particular attention was paid to estimating the amount and direction of potential recall and participation biases and their impact on the study results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-664
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
P Marks, Dr M Nelson, Dr S Omer, Mr N Phillips, Mr S Ross, Dr I Rothwell, Dr H Spokes, Dr J Straiton, Mr G Towns, Nr A Tyagi, Mr P Vanhille, Dr M Busby).This study was conducted with funding from the European Fifth Framework Program, ‘‘Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources’’ (contract QLK4-CT-1999901563) and the International Union against Cancer (UICC). The UICC received funds for this purpose from the Mobile Manufacturers’ Forum and GSM Association. Provision of funds to the INTERPHONE study investigators via the UICC was governed by agreements that guaranteed INTERPHONE’s complete scientific independence. The terms of these agreements are publicly available at Units/RCAd.html/. The Australian centre was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (EME Grant 219129); Bruce Armstrong is supported by a University of Sydney Medical Foundation Program Grant and Julianne Brown by an Australian Postgraduate Award. The Cancer Council NSW and The Cancer Council Victoria provided most of the infrastructure for the project in Australia. The Canada-Montréal data collection was funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (project MOP-42525). Dr. Siemiatycki had salary support from the Canada Research Chair programme. Dr. Parent had salary support from the Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec. The other Canadian centres were supported by a university-industry partnership grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the latter including partial support from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. The CIHR university-industry partnerships program also includes provisions that ensure complete scientific independence of the investigators. D. Krewski is the NSERC/SSHRC/ McLaughlin Chair in Population Health Risk Assessment at the University of Ottawa. The Danish centre was supported by the Danish Cancer Society and the Finnish centre by the Emil Aaltonen Foundation and the Academy of Finland. Additional funding for the study in France was provided by l’Association pour la Recherche sur le Cancer (ARC: Contrat No. 5142) and three network operators (Orange, SFR, Bouygues Télécom). The funds provided by the operators represented 5% of the total cost of the French study and were governed by contracts guaranteeing the complete scientific independence of the investigators. In Germany additional funds were received from the German Mobile Phone Research Program (De-utsches Mobilfunkforschungsprogramm) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nuclear Safety, and Nature Protection; the Ministry for the Environment and Traffic of the state of Baden-Württemberg; the Ministry for the Environment of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia; the MAIFOR Program (Mainzer For-schungsforderungsprogramm) of the University of Mainz. The study conducted in Japan was fully funded by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan. In New Zealand, funding was provided by the Health Research Council, Hawkes Bay Medical Research Foundation and the Cancer Society of New Zealand. The Swedish centre was also supported by the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish Cancer Society. Additional funding for the UK-North & UK-South studies was received from the Mobile Telecommunications, Health and Research (MTHR) program and the UK-North study received funding from the Health and Safety Executive, the Department of Health, the UK Network Operators (O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, ‘3’) and the Scottish Executive.


  • Acoustic neurinoma
  • Benign tumours
  • Brain tumours
  • Cancer
  • Case-control
  • Methods
  • Mobile phones
  • Parotid gland tumours
  • Study design


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