For several years, doctors, scientists and activists have been raising concerns about the possible connection between cell phones and brain cancer.
And recent research by scientists at NIH and the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory conclusively determined that a cell phone's electromagnetic field can indeed cause changes in brain activity.
"Brain activity means that the cells are using glucose to create energy ... Compared with subjects whose phones were turned off, the group whose phones were on had 'significantly higher' brain activity in the area closest to the telephone antenna."
Time Magazine lists five simple ways to reduce your exposure to cell phone radiation:
Use a wired headset
This keeps the antenna far away from your skull.
Get used to texting
Texting also keeps the handset away from your brain, reducing the radiation risk.
Don't use your cell phone as an alarm clock
If you use your phone as your wake-up call, you'll likely need to keep it close to your head; there's still radiation being emitted even when it's not taking calls.
Don't carry your phone in your pocket
There's preliminary research to indicate that men who carry a phone in their pocket all day could be putting their fertility at risk, and women who carry their phones in their bra could be increasing their risk of breast cancer.
Use a radiation-blocking case
These can reduce cell phone radiation by two-thirds.
These are all important precautions, especially since the recent study by leading brain imaging researcher Nora D. Volkow, MD et al— one funded by the US government and led by one of "Top 100 People Who Shape Our World" (2007) according to Time —has found that cell phone use does affect your brain.
After just 50 minutes on a cell phone, the emitted radiation increases the activity in your brain cells, the study found. The exact effects of that brain activity are as of yet unknown. But the study in effect has debunked the myth that cell phone radiation at non-thermal levels does not cause biological changes, as the SAR exposure involved was only .901 W/Kg, well under the FCC limit of 1.6 W/Kg for cell phones. The study has also raised the specter that if acute cell phone radiation is impacting glucose in the brain, an established marker of brain activity, might it also be impacting neurotransmitters and other brain biochemistry?
Chronic elevated glucose levels in the brain is, of course, also of concern, and is currently being investigated by Volkow.
Scientists are now calling for urgent research on effects on the brain from cell phone radiation, previously believed in orthodox circles to have no effect. They are also calling for reinstatement of federal funding for bioelectromagnetics research, which dried up in the mid-1990s as government facilitated the roll out of cellular infrastructure across the country.
Dr. Ronald Herberman, former Director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, says,
"We know that increased glucose also occurs with infections and other inflammatory processes, and leads to the production of potentially damaging reactive oxygen radicals that can alter the ways that cells and genes work. This important finding should stimulate many biologists to perform in-depth studies to determine the consequences of such changes in nerve cells or other bodily cells in the region of the radiation. We need to develop a better understanding of how radiofrequency radiation might contribute to increased risk for brain tumors as well as other alterations in brain functions."
David Carpenter, MD, Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment, University of Albany, has called the NIH study 'dynamite'. He says it will now be hard to deny that cell phones alter nervous system activity.
However, Louis Slesin of Microwave News cautions,
"For decades, the microwave community has been awash with reports that low-level radiation can lead to numerous neurological effects, such as leakage through the blood-brain barrier, changes in calcium in and around brain cells and DNA breaks in the brains of exposed animals. But in each case skeptics have countered that they could not repeat the experiments and therefore the original work must have been flawed and should be repudiated. Volkow's new study will no doubt face a similar barrage of criticism."
Slesin, a long time, well-respected expert in this field, also noted he learned, "The closing sentence of original version of the JAMA paper advised cell phone users to keep the antenna away from the brain by using a wired earpiece. This was edited out in the review/revision process." So, while it is encouraging a respected journal such as JAMA has published on this topic, and also issued a press release about the research, we must all realize there could still be interests wanting to downplay the importance of the finding for cell phone users.
The Volkow study was the first to look at how electromagnetic radiation from cell phones affects glucose metabolism in the brain. When glucose metabolism goes up, it activates cells. Many scientists believe this may provide insight into the biochemical process leading to increased incidence of brain tumors in heavy cell phone users.
Based on the NIH research, Mayor Mark Barron and the City Council of Jackson, WY last week initiated a cell phone safety awareness program in schools for students in grades K-12. Jackson is the first town in America to take specific action to protect schoolchildren from microwave radiation.
Mayor Barron states
"Given the extraordinary acceleration of cell phone use by our school children and the seeming social acceptance of placing this powerful tool next to our head, it is only prudent to address the issue at this time."