European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 24, Issue 8, pp 433–440 | Cite as

History of allergic disease and epilepsy and risk of glioma and meningioma (INTERPHONE study group, Germany)

  • Gabriele Berg-Beckhoff
  • Joachim Schüz
  • Maria Blettner
  • Eva Münster
  • Klaus Schlaefer
  • Jürgen Wahrendorf
  • Brigitte SchlehoferEmail author


The aim of the present analysis was to examine the association of a medical history of asthma, hay fever, eczema, or epilepsy with the risk of glioma and meningioma. Data of a German population-based case–control study included 381 meningioma cases, 366 glioma cases, and 1,494 controls. Participants’ histories of asthma, hay fever, eczema, and epilepsy and the respective ages at onset were asked during a personal interview. A small inverse association between allergic condition and both glioma (odds ratio: 0.92; 95% CI: 0.70–1.22) and meningioma (odd ratio: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.66–1.14) was found. For glioma, this inverse association was more pronounced in persons reporting to have asthma compared to other allergic conditions. The positive association between epilepsy and particularly glioma suggests that epilepsy is an early symptom of the disease. As the association was seen also for epilepsies occurring more than a decade before the diagnosis of glioma, this might indicate either an aetiological role of epilepsy, or a relatively long preclinical phase. In conclusion our study confirms previous findings of case control studies but not those from cohort studies. However, possible selection bias in case control studies might not explain the different results in its entirety.


Allergy Asthma Epilepsy Hay fever Eczema Glioma Meningioma Brain tumour Case control study 



We acknowledge funding from: the European Fifth Framework Program, “Quality of Life and Management of living Resources” (contract QLK4-CT-19999-01563); the “Deutsches 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 of the University of Mainz; 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. These agreements are publicly available at [07-01-05]. We would like to thank Marianne Brömmel, Stephanie Estel, Iris Hettinger, Melanie Hetzer, Katharina Kunna-Grass, and Anna Wilms for organizing the field phase and all our interviewers for their skilful work. We thank the clinical INTERPHONE team for their support and the collaboration: Bielefeld: Prof Falk Oppel (Neurosurgical clinic), Dr Uwe Dietrich (Neuroradiology), Dr Volkmar Hans (Neuropathology), Heidelberg: Prof Andreas Unterberg, Prof Stefan Kunze, Dr Karsten Geletneky (Neurosurgical clinic), Prof Marika Kiessling (Neuropathology), Mannheim: Prof Peter Schmiedek, Dr Jochen Tüttenberg (Neurosurgical clinic), Prof Uwe Bleyl (Neuropathology), Mainz: Prof Axel Perneczky, Prof Nico Hopf, Dr Dorothee Koch (Neurosurgical clinic), Prof Wolf Mann, Prof Nickalaos Marangos (ENT clinic), Dr Wibke Müller-Forell (Neuroradiology), Prof Hans Hilmar Göbel (Neuropathology). We also thank the coordination team at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon for their support.

Conflict of interest statement

All authors disclaim any financial and personal relationship with other people or organisations that could inappropriately influence or bias our work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriele Berg-Beckhoff
    • 1
  • Joachim Schüz
    • 2
    • 3
  • Maria Blettner
    • 2
  • Eva Münster
    • 2
    • 4
  • Klaus Schlaefer
    • 5
  • Jürgen Wahrendorf
    • 5
  • Brigitte Schlehofer
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and International Public Health, School of Public HealthUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Medical Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics, University Medical CentreJohannes Gutenberg-University MainzMainzGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Cancer EpidemiologyDanish Cancer SocietyCopenhagenDenmark
  4. 4.Institute of Occupational, Social, and Environmental MedicineJohannes Gutenberg-University of MainzMainzGermany
  5. 5.Unit of Environmental EpidemiologyGerman Cancer Research CenterHeidelbergGermany

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