Dozens of people who believed the masts triggered symptoms such as anxiety, nausea and tiredness could not detect if signals were on or off in trials.
However, the Environmental Health Perspectives study stressed people were nonetheless suffering "real symptoms".
Campaign group Mast Sanity said the results were skewed as 12 people in the trials dropped out because of illness.
In the trial, many of those who blame masts for their symptoms reported greater distress when they thought the signal was on, suggesting the problem has a psychological basis.
"Belief is a very powerful thing," said Professor Elaine Fox, of the University of Essex, who led the three-year study.
"If you really believe something is going to do you some harm, it will."
The study was funded by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research programme, a body which is itself funded by industry and government.
That the study was funded by government and the industry is cause for caution, but does not imply that the results are inaccurate.
The article then goes on to mistakenly assert that electrosensitivity is real and that it's an allergy:
It is unclear how many people in the UK suffer from "electro-sensitivity", an allergy they believe can be triggered by a range of modern day appliances from hair driers to mobile phone masts.
Could they put it more lamely and ambiguously? And this is the BBC. Shit.
Here's a nifty meta-study for some more info.
Here's my old post on EMF mania.