The study by the National Institutes of Health is one of the first, and the most prominent, to offer scientific evidence that cell phones affect brain metabolism. Results were published in today’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Let’s find out how cell phone affects the brain:
A 50-minute cell phone call causes a noticeable increase in brain activity in the area of the head closest to the phone’s antenna.
Trouble is, not even the study’s authors, the National Institute of Health, know how the calls affect you, just that they light up a significant chunk of your gray matter near the phone.
Lead author Dr. Nora Volkow told Health Day:
We don’t know whether this is detrimental or whether it could have some potential beneficial effects. We don’t know one way or the other.
Scientists involved with the study said it’s far too early to draw conclusions about whether electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell phones can cause tumors, one major concern among some scientists and doctors, or have any other negative health consequences. But their results demonstrate a need for further research.
All the study found when it tracked 47 mobile-toting participants for one year was this: brain metabolism in a small area nearest the antenna was 7% higher when they were on a 50-minute call. So cell phones boost brain activity.
Specifically, they raise glucose levels. For all we know, blasting your brain with focused radio waves could be the mental equivalent of going to the gym. Glucose levels rise with just about any complex brain activity.
For comparison, that 7% metabolism boost is less than the amount of energy it takes to process images via your eyes.
Professor Patrick Haggard of University College London said the results were interesting since the study suggests a direct effect of cellphone signals on brain function.
According to background information in the article:
The dramatic worldwide increase in use of cellular telephones has prompted concerns regarding potential harmful effects of exposure to radio frequency-modulated electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs). Of particular concern has been the potential carcinogenic effects from the RF-EMF emissions of cell phones. However, epidemiologic studies of the association between cell phone use and prevalence of brain tumors have been inconsistent (some, but not all, studies showed increased risk), and the issue remains unresolved.
Dr. Nora Volkow said:
Unfortunately, our findings do not enlighten in any way this controversy on whether cell phones produce cancer. What they do say is that the human brain is sensitive to this electromagnetic radiation.
Volkow said the findings suggest the need for more study to see if cellphones have a negative effect on brain cells.
Meanwhile, Volkow isn’t taking any chances. She now uses an earphone instead of placing a cellphone next to her ear.