Saturday, March 5, 2011

New Cell Phone Research

In the recent February 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association it was shown that use of a cell phone for as little as 50 minutes at a time appears to affect brain glucose metabolism in the region closest to the phone's antenna.

Investigators used positron emission tomography (PET) during cell phone use in the on and then off positions. They found that although the whole-brain metabolism was not affected, the orbitofrontal cortex and the temporal pole areas of the brain metabolism was increased while the cell phone was on. These are the areas that are close to where the phone's antenna meets the head.

The lead study author Nora D. Volkow MD said "We do not know what the clinical significance of this finding is, both with respect to potential therapeutic effect of this type of technology but also potential negative consequences from cell phone exposure," She recommends using hands-free devices or speaker-phone mode to avoid direct contact of the telephone with the head. 

She said previous work suggests keeping the phone a foot or more away from your body will decrease the likelihood of having any effects.

She also mentioned the need for caution with children and adolescents whose neural tissue is still developing.

The bones in a child's skull are thinner than those of adults. Consequently, children have less protection against the penetration of radio frequency signals (RFS) into their brains. In addition their nervous systems are still developing, and are particularly vulnerable to the RFS.  

Many countries have already put out warnings about children using cell phones in past years. Some countries have banned cell phone use by children. It appears our research in this country is just catching up with what is already known and being acted upon around the rest of the world.

And what about prenatal risk? In the December 7th, 2010  issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, a Danish study provided more evidence that exposure to cell phones prenatally and early in life may increase a child's risk of developing behavioral problems.

Cell phone use for children and adults is one large experiment.  Professor Devra Davis, at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute has been quoted as stating, "Because the latency between exposure and brain cancer could be 20 or 30 years...we are basically treating ourselves like lab rats in an experiment without any controls" ( 2009, January 22).

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that advocates for health-protective policies, has reported on key studies that link radiation from long-term cell phone use with increased risks of brain and salivary gland tumors, migraines and vertigo, as well as behavior problems in children, including hyperactivity.

If you use a cell phone these suggestions may help you to be safer:

• Use land phones for long conversations.
• Purchase cell phones with low SAR (Specific Absorption Rate). This is a measure of the rate at which  energy is absorbed by the body when exposed to radio frequency. (Look in the phones manual for the SAR). In the United States, the maximum SAR level must be less than 1.6 watts per kilogram. A 15 page chart of SAR levels in various cell phones can be found at .
• Try to use the cell phone where reception is strong; weak reception requires that your phone emits more radiation, which leads to stronger radio waves that can affect your deeper tissues.
• Use the speaker phone or wear an air tube headset. Regular wired headsets intensify radiation into the ear canal.
• Do not use the cell phone in enclosed metal spaces such as vehicles as it takes more power to establish a connection. The metal enclosure also acts like a Faraday cage and traps the radiation in the vehicle and reflects it back upon you.
• Don't put a cell phone that is in use or on, in your pocket or on your belt. There is better conductivity of the radiation in the tissues in the lower body and it will be absorbed quicker than your head.
• When you're not using your cell phone, keep it turned off. Cell phones that are not in use but left on emit radiation on an intermittent basis.

If you're interested in detecting electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) being given off by your wireless devices you can get a Gauss meter. It can detect EMF activity around cell phones, cordless home phones, and other wireless devices.