Mobile Phones Affect Memory In Laboratory Animals, Swedish Study Finds
Is the radiation from your cell phone harmful? Scientists tell us that any radiation is not good, especially at microwave frequencies like those used to communicate between your cell phone and the towers. Although the towers use about 10 watts, your cellphone only uses a maximum of 3 watts. The problem is the distance of these antennae from living tissue.
Cell phones are used at full power right next to your head, exposing your brain, eyes and skin to the full output of your phone. Many people have claimed that brain tumors, skin cancer and mental problems have resulted from excessive use of their cell phones. But is this true?
Let's look at some research in to the effects on memory. These studies were done with animals, but the results can easily be inferred to human subjects.
Henrietta Nittby at Lund University in Sweden, studied rats that were exposed to mobile phone radiation for two hours a week for more than a year. These rats had poorer results on a memory test than rats that had not been exposed to radiation.
The memory test consisted of releasing the rats in a box with four objects mounted in it. These objects were different on the two occasions, and the placement of the objects was different from one time to the other.
The actual test trial was the third occasion. This time the rats encountered two of the objects from the first and two of the objects from the second occasion. The control rats spent more time exploring the objects from the first occasion, which were more interesting since the rats had not seen them for some time. The experiment rats, on the other hand, evinced less pronounced differences in interest.
Henrietta Nittby, and her supervisor, Professor Leif Salford, believe that the findings may be related to the team's earlier findings that microwave radiation from cell phones can affect the so-called blood-brain barrier. This is a barrier that protects the brain by preventing substances circulating in the blood from penetrating into the brain tissue and damaging nerve cells. Leif Salford and his associates have previously found that albumin, a protein that functions as a transport molecule in the blood, leaks into brain tissue when laboratory animals are exposed to mobile phone radiation.
So that's not good.
The research team also found certain kind of nerve damage. Cells in the cerebral cortex and in the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain, occurred only later, after four to eight weeks, but showed alterations in the activity of a large number of genes -- not in individual genes -- but in groups that are functionally related.
"We now see that things happen to the brains of lab animals after cell phone radiation. The next step is to try to understand why this happens," says Henrietta Nittby.
She has a cell phone herself, but never holds it to her ear, using hands-free equipment instead -- a very smart idea.
Mobile Phone Use Not Associated With Melanoma Of The Eye
Some good news -- cell phone use is not associated with the risk of melanoma of the eye, researchers report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
In a study by Andreas Stang, M.D., of the Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, he and his colleagues examined the association between cell phone use and risk of uveal melanoma in 459 patients and 1,194 control subjects. Control subjects were drawn from the general population, from ophthalmology clinics, and from siblings of the patients. The investigators grouped study participants according to amount of time spent on the phone, as never users, sporadic users and regular users.
There was no statistically significant association between mobile phone use of up to about 10 years and uveal melanoma risk.
"In conclusion, we observed no overall increased risk of uveal melanoma among regular mobile phone users or users of radio sets in Germany, where digital mobile phone technology was introduced in the early 1990s," -- the authors write.
No Clear Connection Between Cell Phone Use And Brain Cancer, International Study Concludes
According to a study conducted in five Northern European countries, there is no clear connection between cell phone use and malignant brain tumours. That's goo to know. The results of the study were published in the web version of the International Journal of Cancer on 19th January.
The study on the possible connection between cell phone use and the risk of a malignant brain tumour, glioma, was carried out in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and England. The study showed that mobile phone users were not at an increased risk of developing a glioma.
Regular use of a cell phone, duration of use, or the cumulative number of calls had no effect on the risk.
The only indication of a potential effect was found among cell phone users who had used a cell phone for at least 10 years. They were found to have a slightly increased risk of a tumour on the side of the head on which they held the phone! That's not good.
The research data from the participating countries was analysed by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK). Funding for the study in Finland was provided by the Emil Aaltonen Foundation, Academy of Finland and Doctoral Programs for Public Health (DPPH).
The most extensive study so far...
The study data collected between 2000 and 2004 included 1,521 glioma patients and 3,301 healthy controls. The number of people who had used a cell phone for longer than 10 years was higher (222) than in previous studies.
"Even though the results do not indicate that cell phone use increases the risk of cancer, we need more research data on long-term use," says Anssi Auvinen, Research Professor at the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.
UPDATE: November 2009
Wireless Phones Can Affect The Brain, Swedish Study Suggests
As reported in ScienceDaily, a study at Orebro University in Sweden indicates that mobile phones and other cordless telephones have a biological effect on the brain. It is still too early to say if any health risks are involved, but medical researcher Fredrik Soderqvist recommends caution in the use of these phones, above all among children and adolescents. Few children who regularly use mobile phones use a headset often or always, even though the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority recommends this.
"Children may be more sensitive than adults to radiation from wireless phones," says Fredrik Soderqvist, who is presenting his research findings in a new doctoral thesis at Orebro University.
On the one hand, he examined the use of wireless telephones among children and adolescents, on the other hand, whether adolescents themselves perceive any health problems that might be related to this use.
He then went on to study blood samples from adults, looking at two so-called biomarkers to see whether wireless phone use has a biological effect on the brain. One of these studies focused on a protein that exists in the so-called blood-cerebrospinal-fluid barrier, which is part of the brain's protection against outside influences. The study revealed an association between use of wireless telephony and increased content of the protein transthyretin in the blood.
Fredrik Soderqvist stresses that the increase as such does not have to be a cause of concern, but since it indicates that the brain is in fact affected by microwaves from wireless telephones, there may be other -- as yet unknown -- effects that may impact our health.
"We should all follow the recommendations of the Radiation Safety Authority when it comes to using headsets and avoiding mobile phone use when the coverage is poor."
Self-perceived health problems
The study also shows that users themselves experience health problems that may be caused by wireless telephones. Children and adolescents who regularly use wireless telephones more often reported various health symptoms and graded their well-being lower than those who do not use them regularly. According to Fredrik Soderqvist, it is not possible to draw any conclusions about what is cause and effect on the basis of this study, but he feels that it is urgent to examine this association more closely.
"The connection was strongest regarding headaches, asthmatic complaints, and impaired concentration. But more research is needed to exclude the effects of other factors and sources of error, even though it is difficult to see how this connection could be fully explained by such factors."
Impact may be felt in the future
Today nearly all children from the age of 7 have access to a wireless telephone, but usage takes off only around the age of 12, and more than 80 percent of all 19-year-olds use mobile phones regularly. At the same time, the study shows that fewer than two percent of the children and adolescents use a headset often or always.
"This is worrisome, since the possible health effects from long-term exposure to microwaves have not been clarified, especially among children and adolescents. The threshold values in place today protect us from warming, a so-called thermal effect. But if there are mechanisms that are independent of warming, it is not certain that today's thresholds provide protection. And it may be that these are effects that will not be perceived until later on in the future," says Fredrik Soerqvist.
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