Cell phones have become part of our lives, but many are wondering about the effects of cell phones and whether they are doing more than keeping us in constant contact. A new intriguing study has found higher levels of sugar metabolism in the brain, indicating increased activity, after just 50 minutes of use.
However, the preliminary bit of research is careful to point out that the results do not suggest a risk to your health from using a hand held phone.
We know two things for certain – cell phones give off radio-frequency energy, and these portable conveniences show no signs of disappearing from our lives. How can you answer with the ability to talk whenever you want, to have music, the internet, texting and more on hand wherever you go?
The down side of all that accessibility is the concern voiced by many that our beloved technology may cause all kinds of health problems, everything from brain tumors to sleep disorders, migraines, even lowered sperm count.
The current study, involving 47 healthy volunteers, looked at the effect of electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) that come from the antenna of the phone. At some point these are absorbed into the body, but so far there is no evidence that cell phone use poses any health threat. Everyone agrees more work needs to be done in this area.
The subjects in this study had mobile devices against both ears, one phone was switched off, the other was on, but muted, so they could not tell the difference between the two. As part of the experiment, their brains were screened to look for changes in sugar use – glucose metabolism is a natural process where the cells of the brain convert this sugar in to energy.
Glucose metabolism rose by 7% in the areas of the brain that were closest to the antenna. What's more, the activity decreased when the phones were turned off.
The theory goes that it's possible for your brain to absorb the radio frequencies that a mobile phone puts out, and this could make it more excitable. By suggesting that cell phones can affect the activity of the brain, the authors of this study are calling for more research to look at what's really going on here. With the widespread, and increasing use of cell phones, it's important we all are aware of what these devices might be doing to our brains.
Experts point out that much larger fluctuations in the metabolic rate of the brain happen naturally … during thinking for example.
Also of note, cell phone use in the study was not anything like what we normally do with these devices – talk and listen. The cell phones in the study were in a listen only mode. When you add in the talking component of cell phone conversations, the authors of an editorial accompanying the study believe the brain's exposure to radio frequency might be even greater.
If future work confirms impacts to the brain, it will be necessary to see if these effects have any implications for the health of the brain. Experts would also look at the healthy and safety risk for other populations, such as teens, adult men and women, different ethnic groups and the elderly.
Remember, this research does not mean the effects of cell phones pose a health risk. You can still use your phone safely while waiting for more work to be done.