Mobile phones may be behind a surge in a deadly brain tumor, scientists say.
Cases of glioblastoma in England soared from 983 to 2,531 between 1995 and 2015, figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal.
The rise was across all age groups and came as cases of lower-grade tumors fell.
Experts say “widespread environmental or lifestyle factors” are likely to be responsible for the trend, with mobile phones a potential suspect. The findings are published in the Journal of Public Health and Environment.
Study leader Alasdair Philips, of Children with Cancer UK, said: “We found a sustained and highly significant increase in GBM throughout the 21 years and across all ages.
“Interestingly, we found the highest rise in incidence in frontal and temporal regions of the brain. This raises the suspicion that mobile and cordless phone use may be promoting gliomas.”
Professor Denis Henshaw said: “Our findings illustrate the need to look more carefully at the mechanisms behind these cancer trends instead of focusing only on cures.”
Typically, only a third of patients are still alive two years after being diagnosed with glioblastoma.
Most survive just 14.6 months.
But critics warn the study only identifies a trend in tumor diagnosis rates and does not provide sufficient evidence that mobiles are to blame.
Keith Neal, from the University of Nottingham, said: “The suggestion that mobile phone use is responsible cannot be substantiated. The rise is greatest in the over 55s, who use mobile phones much less and there was very little mobile phone use in 1995 when rates are already increasing.”
David Spiegelhalter, from University of Cambridge, said: “Many things have changed over the last 30 years and so the strong causal conclusions seem unjustified.”
And Lion Shahab, from University College London, said: “This paper provides evidence for a rise in specific malignant brain tumors in England. What the analysis does not show is that this rise is caused by mobile phones.”