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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid