The authors evaluated the potential role of environmental risk factors, including exposure to diagnostic or therapeutic radiation and to wireless phones that emit nonionizing radiation, in the etiology of vestibular schwannoma (VS).
A total of 343 patients with VSs who underwent Gamma Knife surgery performed between 1997 and 2007 were age and sex matched to 343 control patients from the outpatient degenerative spinal disorders service at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The authors obtained information on previous exposure to medical radiation, use of wireless phone technologies, and other environmental factors thought to be associated with the development of a VS. Conditional multivariate logistic regression was used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
After adjusting for race, education, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, occupational exposure to noise, use of cell phones, and family history of cancer, the authors identified only a single factor that was associated with a higher risk of VS: individuals exposed to dental x-rays once a year (aOR = 2.27, 95% CI = 1.01–5.09) or once every 2–5 years (aOR = 2.65, 95% CI = 1.20–5.85), compared with those exposed less than once every 5 years. Of interest, a history of exposure to radiation related to head or head-and-neck computed tomography was associated with a reduced risk of VS (aOR = 0.52, 95% CI = 0.30–0.90). No relationship was found between the use of cell phones or cordless phones and VS.
Patients with acoustic neuromas reported significantly more exposure to dental x-rays than a matched cohort control group. Reducing the frequency of dental x-ray examinations may decrease the potential risk of VS.