The CERENAT Study.


Key Facts

  • A case-control study – comparing people with cancer to people without cancer.
  • The study included 447 cases (people with cancer) and 892 controls (people without cancer).
  • Cases Included: 253 cases of Gliomas, 194 cases of Meningiomas.
  • No statistically significant association was found for users described as using their phone at least once a week for six months or more.
  • A statistically significant (not due to chance) increased level of risk was observed for users with life long usage of 896 hours (which equates to approximately 30 minutes a day for 5 years).
  • A 189% increased risk was observed for Gliomas.
  • A 157% increased risk was observed for Meningiomas.
  • Higher risk for those using mobile phones as part of their profession.
  • Higher risk for those living in urban areas.
  • Conclusion: These additional data support previous findings concerning a possible association between heavy mobile phone use and brain tumours.


The French CERENAT study was case control study exploring the link between primal* central nervous system tumours (such as Gliomas and Meningliomas) and mobile phone use.

No statistically significant association was found for users described as using their phone once a week for six months or more.

For phone users classified as having life long usage of 896 hours – which equates to approximately half an hour a day for 5 years – a statistically significant increase of risk in both Gliomas and Meningiomas was observed.

Risks were higher for those that used cell phone as part of their profession and also for those that lived in urban areas.

The CERENAT study is one of the studies referenced by the Canadian Parliament that triggered their warning that cell phones may cause serious health issues. The Canadian Parliament warned that cell phones may cause cancer, infertility and learning disabilities. The warning was also based on the European Interphone Study and the Hardell Group Studies.

This study was released after the 2b cancer classification was made by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is one of the studies referenced by scientists arguing that, based on new research, the 2b classification should be re-evaluated as presented as a class 2a (probably carcinogenic) or class 1 carcinogenic. There is now an on going petition arguing that this classification should be changed.

*A primary tumour is one that originates in that part of the body as opposed to spreading from a cancer in a different part of the body. These are know as metastatic tumours.

Study Limitations

There are a number of limitations that should also be considered when interpreting the results:

  • The method of data collection was through face to face questionnaires where participants were asked to estimate the number and duration of calls made.
  • Only a small group of people were in the user group described as heavy users (life long useage of over 896 hours): only 37 cases and 31 controls.
  • Only half of the participants qualified for the ‘regular user’ group (more than 1 call a week for 6 months).
  • The definition of ‘regular user’ is significantly lower than what would be considered regular usage today.
  • The study doesn’t consider the use of smartphones using 3G and WIFI.

Published Study Reference:

Coureau G, Bouvier G, Lebailly P, Fabbro-Peray P, Gruber A, Leffondre K,Guillamo JS, Loiseau H, Mathoulin-Pélissier S, Salamon R, Baldi I. Mobile phone use and brain tumours in the CERENAT case-control study. Occup Environ Med. 2014 Jul;71(7):514-22. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2013-101754.

Study available at the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Journal and Pubmed.


Related Articles:


Cancer Research UK