News / Health

Cell Phones Cause Increased Brain Activity

Study results renew calls for more research into the potential dangers of cell phones

New evidence finds cell phones stimulate the brain but the study does not prove they actually damage the brain.
New evidence finds cell phones stimulate the brain but the study does not prove they actually damage the brain.

Multimedia

Vidushi Sinha

A new study finds that an hour-long cell phone call causes a spike in biochemical activity in the user's brain.  The researchers can't say whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, but the finding has renewed the debate over cell phone safety and raised calls for more health studies.  

Cell phones are everywhere. Decades of research into whether cell phone radiation might cause brain tumors or impotence have been inconclusive. The wireless companies insist the phones are safe. The new study from the National Institutes of Health doesn't settle the debate, but offers some new food for thought.

In the study, 47 healthy people were tested over a one-year period. Participants had cell phones placed on their left and right ears. One cell phone was activated but muted for 50 minutes, the other was off. After that, the subjects were tested with both cell phones turned off.

With the phones at their ears, the subjects' brains were scanned using a sophisticated imaging technique. Dr. Nora Volkow, who conducted the study along with colleagues at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says the brain scans showed heightened metabolic activity in brain cells closest to the activated devices.

"This right area of the brain that was very close to the antenna shows the largest increase in metabolism as compared when the telephones were off," says Volkow. "Even though the radio frequencies that are emitted from current cell phone technologies are very weak, they are able to activate the human brain to have an effect.''

The effect was a seven percent increase in the rate at which brain cells closest to an active cell phone antenna metabolized sugar into energy - an essential and normal activity.  Dr. Giuseppe Esposito, an expert on nuclear medicine, says the study demonstrates clearly that mobile phone signals can excite brain cells.  But it doesn't answer that nagging question.

"The study does not bring any evidence to the fact that cell phones cause damage to the brain," says Esposito. "It just tells us that cell phones cause stimulation to the brain."

Many studies have explored potential links between cell phone use and brain cancer.  Skeptics wonder if such harmful effects might only turn up after five, 10 or even 15 years.

Esposito believes the best scientific studies have yet to be done. "We need what are called epidemiological studies where you will follow a population using cell phones - high users or light users - and then see what happens over the years."

Experts hope the NIH study renews interest in the question of cellphone safety.

"This is a study that is interesting and will almost certainly provoke additional studies," says Dr. Andrew Sloan of the Case Medical Center.

While we're waiting for those additional studies, experts say we can reduce potential health risks by using hands-free devices to operate our cell phones, not carrying them close to our bodies, and limiting the length of our calls.  

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid