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COSMOS study on health impacts of mobile phone use: STUK invites 11,600 people to participate in follow-up survey

COSMOS study on health impacts of mobile phone use: STUK invites 11,600 people to participate in follow-up survey

29 Oct 2014 10:00
Press release

In 2009, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland (STUK), in collaboration with the University of Tampere, launched a cohort study of mobile phone use and health (COSMOS). The study includes an baseline survey and a follow-up questionnaire a couple of years later. All those who participated in the COSMOS study in 2010 or 2011 are now asked to fill out the follow-up questionnaire. Invitations will be sent out by email or as text messages at the end of October.

The purpose of COSMOS is to enhance our knowledge about the relationship between mobile phone use and health issues. In addition to tumours of the head, the health issues covered include neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, vascular diseases and various symptoms, such as headache, depression, sleep disorders and tinnitus. In addition to the questionnaires, official healthcare databases are also used for collecting information about the participants’ diseases. All information collected for the study is handled with absolute confidentiality.

Quantitative information regarding mobile phone use is obtained directly from mobile network operators, while in previous studies such information has been based on estimates provided by the persons themselves. At the moment, both DNA and TeliaSonera provide call duration data for the study.

The first results will be ready next year. The results of the study will be used, among other things, to analyze the incidence of the various symptoms in proportion to the extent of mobile phone use.

COSMOS is part of a large European project with a follow-up period of at least ten years. In addition to Finland, the participating countries include Sweden, Denmark, the UK and the Netherlands.
No significant changes in mobile phone use

On the basis of the data collected earlier, it seems that the phone usage patterns of the COSMOS participants have not changed much. Of those who have filled out the follow-up questionnaire, 60% said they made 1 to 9 calls a day in 2005; the corresponding figure in 2013 is 58%. However, of those who in 2005 said they made more than ten calls a day, 54% indicated a lower number of calls in 2013. The call durations have remained unchanged as well. In 2005, 35% of the respondents estimated that they talked from one to three hours a week on the mobile phone; in 2013, the corresponding figure was 34%.

Internet browsing through a mobile phone has increased a lot. In 2009, 9% of the respondents browsed the Internet on their mobile phones several times a day or keeping the connection open all the time, whereas in 2013 the corresponding figure was 36%.

Concern about the health impacts of mobile phone use has also remained roughly the same. In 2009, about 5% of the respondents were very or extremely worried about the health impacts of mobile phones, while the corresponding figure in 2013 was 4%.

Further information:

Researcher Katja Kojo, tel. +358 9 759 88 472
Information Officer Riikka Laitinen-Sorvari, tel. +358 9 759 88 210 (in Finnish)

Mobile telephones and base stations
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