Every time you pick up your cell phone and put it to your ear, you expose, at least a portion of your brain, to a good dose of radiofrequency (RF). How this RF affects your health is uncertain, but it is now known that it does effect your brain, at least regionally.
A recent study published in the Journal of The American Medical Association recruited 47 healthy individuals. Cell phones were placed on the left and right ears and brain imaging was performed with positron emission tomography (three-dimensional imaging) with (18F) fluorodeoxyglucose injection (used to form images for the PET) and measure brain glucose metabolism. Brain glucose metabolism was measured twice, once with the right cell phone activated (sound muted) for 50 minutes (“on” condition), and once with both cell phones deactivated (“off” condition).
Researchers found that there was no difference in “whole-brain” metabolism when phones were on or off, but that there were “significant regional effects” with a phone “on” and held to the ear (without participants speaking or listening to a conversation) for 50 minutes.
“These results provide evidence that the human brain is sensitive to the effects of RF-EMFs (radio frequency modulated electromagnetic fields) from acute cell phone exposures,” the researchers wrote. They added that the mechanisms by which RF-EMFs could affect brain glucose metabolism (how much sugar a cell takes in to fuel activity) are unclear.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): “The majority of studies published have failed to show an association between exposure to radiofrequency from a cell phone and health problems.”
It is undetermined if the increased activity (or “regional effects”) demonstrated in this study cause health problems, but if cell phone use can affect brain activity at all, then continued research is absolutely needed. The “are cell phones safe” discussion needs to be continued and backed by quality, unbiased research.
This is yet another study that reaches no substantial conclusions regarding cellular phone use and health. Because of their “unknown clinical significance” findings, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CITA), the wireless industry’s lobbying arm in Washington, was quick to respond in a statement: “The authors acknowledge that the results provide no information as to potential health effects of cell phones,” the statement read. “As with any study, scientific organizations will review the results of this one in the context of the significant body of research and published literature on cell phone safety that has already been amassed.”
I am sure continued research and debate will continue.