Good News for Cell Phone Users
The University of South Florida finds that use of cell phones may have a positive health impact. Contrary to most studies of cell phone use that looked at possible negative impacts, this study was highly controlled to permit the investigators to isolate the possible effects of cell phone electromagnetic radiation from other potential factors like diet and exercise. The study, led by University of South Florida researchers at the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC), was published today in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
"It surprised us to find that cell phone exposure, begun in early adulthood, protects the memory of mice otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer's symptoms," said lead author Gary Arendash, PhD, Research Professor at the Florida ADRC. "It was even more astonishing that the electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones actually reversed memory impairment in old Alzheimer's mice."
If cell phone exposure was started when the genetically-programmed mice were young adults -- before signs of memory impairment were apparent -- their cognitive ability was protected. In fact, the Alzheimer’s mice performed as well on tests measuring memory and thinking skills as aged mice without dementia. If older Alzheimer’s mice already exhibiting memory problems were exposed to the electromagnetic waves, their memory impairment disappeared. Months of cell phone exposure even boosted the memories of normal mice to above-normal levels. The memory benefits of cell phone exposure took months to show up, suggesting that a similar effect in humans would take years if cell phone-level electromagnetic exposure was provided.
Previous human studies of electromagnetic waves from cell phones involved only brief exposures given to normal humans. While some studies reported small improvements in attention or memory (not enough to impact daily life), others reported no memory effects from short-term exposure. The new study by Arendash, Cao, and their colleagues is the first to investigate the effects of long-term electromagnetic exposure over many months on memory function in either humans or animals. The findings indicate that "long-term" exposure to cell phone level electromagnetic waves is needed to observe enhanced memory in normal or memory-impaired mice.
The USF researchers began investigating the effects of cell phone use on Alzheimer's disease several years ago, after several observational studies in humans linked a possible increased risk of Alzheimer's with "low-frequency" electromagnetic exposure -- like the energy waves generated by power and telephone lines. However, cell phones emit "high-frequency" electromagnetic waves, which are very different because they can have beneficial effects on brain cell function, such as increasing brain cell activity, Arendash said.
Based on their promising and unexpected findings in mice, the researchers concluded that electromagnetic field exposure could be an effective, non-invasive and drug-free way to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease in humans. They are currently evaluating whether different sets of electromagnetic frequencies and strengths will produce more rapid and even greater cognitive benefits than those found in their current study.
For more information: http://hscweb3.hsc.usf.edu/health/now/?p=9618