While population-based studies haven’t led to conclusive findings regarding the link between cell phones and brain cancer, a new study shows that energy from the devices will so affect brain activity. Holding a cellular phone to your ear for a long amount of your time will increase activity in parts of the brain near the antenna, researchers have found.
Glucose metabolism — that’s a measuring of how the brain uses energy — in these areas increased considerably when the phone was turned on and muted, compared with once it had been off, Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on habit, and colleagues reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“Although we cannot confirm the clinical significance, our results offer proof that the human brain is sensitive to the results of radiofrequency-electromagnetic fields from acute mobile phone exposures,” author Dr. Gene-Jack Wang of Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, wherever the study was conducted, told.
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Although the study can’t draw conclusions concerning long-run implications, different researchers are calling the findings significant.
“Clearly there’s an acute impact, and the necessary question is whether or not this acute impact is related to events that will be damaging to the brain or dispose to the development of future issues like cancer as advised by recent epidemiologic studies,” Dr. Santosh Kesari, director of neuro-oncology at the University of California San Diego, same in an e-mail.
There are many population-based studies analyzing the potential links between brain cancer and cellular phone use, and the results have often been inconclusive or inconsistent.
Most recently, the anticipated interphone study was understood as “implausible” because some of its statistics discovered a big protective effect for cellular phone use. On the other hand, the most intense users had an increased risk of brain tumor — however the researchers referred to as their level of use quixotic.
However some analyzers have compared the certain physiological results that electromagnetic and radiofrequency fields from the devices will wear brain tissue. Some have shown that blood flow is enhanced in specific brain regions during cellular phone use, however there’s been little work on effects at the level of the brain’s neurons.
So Dr. Volkow and colleagues conducted a crossover study at Brookhaven National Laboratory, enrolling forty seven patients who had one cellular phone placed on each ear while they lay in a PET scanner for fifty minutes.
The researchers scanned patients’ brain aldohexose metabolism double — once with the right cellular phone turned on but muted, and once with both phones turned off.
There was no difference in whole-brain metabolism whether or not the phone was on or off.
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But aldohexose metabolism in the regions nearest to the antenna — the orbitofrontal cortex and the temporal pole — was considerably higher when the phone was turned on.
Further analyses confirmed that the regions expected to have the best absorption of radiofrequency and electromagnetic fields from mobile phone use were indeed those that showed the larger increases in aldohexose metabolism.
“Even although the radio frequencies that are emitted from current mobile phone technologies are terribly weak, they’re able to activate the human brain to have a control,” Dr. Volkow said in a JAMA video report.
The effects on neuronic activity might be because of changes in neurochemical release, cell membrane permeableness, cell excitability, or calcium efflux.
It’s additionally been theorized that heat from cell phones will contribute to functional brain changes, however that’s probably less likely to be the case, the researchers said.
Dr. Wang noted that the implications stay unclear — “further studies are required to assess if the results we determined might have potential long-run consequences,” he said — however the researchers haven’t yet devised a follow-up study.
“The nett message,” Dr. Kesair said, “is that we still don’t know, more studies are required, and in the meanwhile users should try to use headsets and decrease cell phone use if any way possible. restricting cellular phone use in young kids certainly isn’t unreasonable.”