Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cell Phone Damages Memory and Nerve Cells

I don't know about you, but I am getting frustrated waiting for the "official" word on the safety of cell phones while various scientific groups on both sides of the safety divide offer up their evidence. There's a new study out today that is particularly concerning for those who use their cell phone frequently . . . This one is from Sweden, which is one of the most advanced countries in the world for cell phones and the home of cell phone giant corporations.

One researcher, Henrietta Nittby of Lund University's Department of Neurosurgery, asked if radiation from cell phones can affect the memory, and the rat studies she and her colleagues performed found that it does. They examined rats that were exposed to mobile phone radiation for only two hours a week for more than a year. These rats had much poorer results on a memory test than their control rats (those that had not been exposed to radiation).

A box with four objects mounted in it was the key ingredient in the memory test. These objects were different on the two occasions, and the placement of the objects was different from one time to the other. The control rats remembered objects they had seen before and expressed much more interest in newer objects, while the cell phone influenced rats were less able to distinguish objects they had already seen.

Henrietta Nittby and Professor Leif Salford of Lund believe that the findings may be related to the team's earlier findings in which they found microwave radiation from cell phones affecting the blood-brain barrier. Leif Salford and his associates have previously found that albumin, a protein that functions as a transport molecule in the blood, leaks into brain tissue when laboratory animals are exposed to mobile phone radiation.

The research team also found certain nerve damage in the form of damaged nerve cells in the cerebral cortex and in the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain. Albumin leakage occurs directly after radiation, while the nerve damage occurs only later, after four to eight weeks. Moreover, they have discovered alterations in the activity of a large number of genes, not in individual genes but in groups that are functionally related.

"We now see that things happen to the brains of lab animals after cell phone radiation. The next step is to try to understand why this happens," says Henrietta Nittby. And, of course, to determine if these same cells are affected in the human body.

Interestingly, this researcher has a cell phone but never holds it to her ear, using hands-free equipment instead. I'm now going to start taking full advantage of the wired mic that is attached to my iPhone headset.


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