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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid