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Your Cell Phone Will NOT Protect You From Alzheimer's Disease

Posted: 01/12/10 12:28 PM ET

While the scientific community has been deliberating about the degree to which cell phone radiation may be harmful to the human brain, a paper has been published in a well respected journal that suggests that cell phone radiation might actually be good for your brain! I am here to tell you that unless you are using your cell phone to call your doctor for a good check up or to buy a membership in a health club, that phone will NOT protect you from developing Alzheimer's Disease.

The study that surprised even experienced researcher and lead author Dr. Gary Arendash of the University of South Florida in Tampa appears in the January issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. In this study, Dr. Arendash exposed both normal mice and a strain that is genetically altered to develop an Alzheimer's-like syndrome to the radiation that is generated by cell phones. The mice were exposed for two hours a day over a period of about nine months. The astonishing result was that in both types of laboratory mice, cell phone radiation appeared to improve cognitive function. In the Alzheimer's-like strain, it even seemed to reverse the deposition of destructive amyloid protein that is the defining characteristic of the illness.

Arendash's interesting experiment still needs to be replicated by other researchers before it can be seen as a solid, demonstrable fact. Nonetheless, there is no compelling reason to doubt what Arendash and his team observed. As we wait for confirmation of these effects in mice, particularly the effects on amyloid protein in the Alzheimer's mice, there are a number of other findings about the microwave radiation of cell phones and its effects on the brain and brain function that need to be discussed.

A number of studies using mice and rats have found that cell phone radiation harms rather than improves learning and cognitive function. Many, though not all, studies have found that in both rats and mice chronic exposure to cell phone radiation causes deficits in learning and memory in spatial tasks. There is also compelling evidence that cell phones may damage brain tissue. An interesting and often replicated study by Dr. Jacob Eberhardt, published in 2008 in the journal Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, found that in laboratory rats, two-hour daily exposure to cell phone radiation over a period of a few weeks led to disruptions in the brain's protective Blood Brain Barrier as well as a significant increase in the number of dead and damaged neurons in brain tissue. Another recent study, performed by Dr. Dusan Sokolovic published in the Journal of Radiation Research showed that chronic exposure to cell phone radiation causes significant damage through oxidative stress in brain tissue.

To the best of my knowledge, there is only one study of the effects of cell phone radiation on human cognitive function. A study performed in 2009 by Dr. Roy Luria at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, in Beer Sheva, Israel, and published in the journal Bioelectromagnetics, found that relatively brief exposure to cell phone radiation caused deficits in working through spatial memory problems in normal human subjects. There is still substantial controversy as to whether or not electromagnetic radiation now common in our environment can cause damage to the human brain. There is a solid literature showing that some forms of electromagnetic radiation, such as that from power lines and electricity producing dynamos, can increase the deposition of amyloid and enhance the risk of developing Alzheimer's in humans. I discuss this, as well as the possible contribution of other environmental factors to the development of Alzheimer's Disease, in my book, "Beyond Alzheimer's: How to Avoid the Modern Epidemic of Dementia."

Unfortunately, there is still precious little information about the potential for the radiation unique to cell phones to cause damage in humans. Certainly, we cannot experimentally subject humans to this radiation in the hope of learning whether or not it damages their brains. Nonetheless, with so many people using cell phones day in and day out, there are many "natural experiments" to evaluate. The most widely known studies have provided the still inconclusive indications that cell phones can increase the risk of developing brain tumors and cancers. The only studies of the effects of cell phones on the risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease in humans have come from Sweden, and mostly from researcher Dr. Orjan Hallberg. In 2005 he published a study titled, " Alzheimer mortality - why does it increase so fast in sparsely populated areas?" in the journal Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine. The conclusion of this paper was that in the Swedish countryside between 1997 and 2001, a dramatic increase in the rates of Alzheimer's Disease was in statistically significant correlation with the increase in use of cell phones in these areas. This is only a correlation, and there could certainly be other explanations for this apparent relationship. Nonetheless, these findings do not seem to suggest that Alzheimer's Disease was prevented by cell phone use in those areas.

Hopefully, Dr. Arendash's findings will be replicated and lead to some special form of treatment in which the brains of sufferers of early Alzheimer's might be bathed in certain forms or frequencies of microwave radiation and perhaps relieved of some of their burden of sticky amyloid protein. However, until then it can safely be concluded that your cell phone will not protect you from developing Alzheimer's Disease.