Cell Phone Usage Affects Brain

Cell phone radiation "affects brain function" in human subjects, according to a new study published February 22, 2011.

The radiation leads to "increased brain glucose metabolism in the region closest to the antenna," according to the study.

The cause of the change in brain function, or its potential effect on the human body is not yet understood.

The cell phone industry claims that cell phone radiations cause no effect on the brain other than heating due to radiation absorption by brain tissue. However, study authors have ruled out heating as the cause of changes that they observed.

The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association was led by Dr. Nora D. Volkow, a pioneering brain imaging scientist who heads the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

It's the first investigation to document changes in brain glucose metabolism after cell phone use.

"This research offers an important insight into potential effects of cell phone radiation on the human brain," Renee Sharp, director of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) California office said. "It joins the growing list of studies that have raised concerns about cell phone use and the brain."

While scientists continue investigating the question, EWG recommends cell phone users limit their exposure to cell phone radiation by taking easy steps such as getting a headset, using speaker-phone mode, keeping the phone away from their body, and looking for low-radiation phone models.

Study Details

The research team explored the impact of cell radiation on the brain by placing cell phones on both ears of 47 healthy volunteers. The volunteers, seated in a darkened room, were directed to keep their eyes closed and remain still for 50 minutes. On the first day, both phones were turned off. On the second day, one was turned on.

The volunteers' brains were subjected to positron emission tomography, commonly known as PET scans, a medical imaging technology, to measure glucose metabolism. "Compared with no exposure, 50-minute cell phone exposure was associated with increased brain glucose metabolism in the region closest to the antenna," the study said.

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