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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Study: Cell phone use changes brain activity

Rebecca Rillos / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Christian Heaviland, a pre-business freshman, talks on his cell phone in the patio of the Park Student Union on Friday, Feb. 25, 2010.
Rebecca Rillos
Rebecca Rillos / Arizona Daily Wildcat Christian Heaviland, a pre-business freshman, talks on his cell phone in the patio of the Park Student Union on Friday, Feb. 25, 2010.

A new study has shown that cell phone use changes brain activity, once again raising the question of whether cell phone radiation can cause long-term brain damage.

Recent research revealed people holding a phone to their ear for 50-minute period saw an increase in brain glucose metabolism, according to a study in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Based on the study, conducted by the National Institutes of Health, it cannot yet be determined whether there could be long-term damage, such as cancer, from cell phone use.

“”The purpose of the study was to try to find out if the human brain is sensitive to the weak electromagnetic phenoms that are emitted from cell phones,”” said Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institutes of Health in a press telebriefing on Thursday.

Volkow conducted the randomized study along with other researchers from the National Institutes of Health. The study included 47 participants, according to the journal.

“”The human brain is sensitive to the electromagnetic radiation that is emitted from cell phones,”” Volkow said.

While conducting the observations, researchers noticed a significant increase in glucose metabolism in areas of the brain that were closest to the antenna, Volkow said. Areas that were further away did not show brain activity changes.

Andrew Murmes, a pre-business freshman, said he would not stop using his cell phone even if researchers found harmful effects in future studies. In addition, he said students tend to text more than call because they usually are in class.

“”Either way, you’ve got to get in contact with people and sometimes it’s important,”” Murmes said.

Gabi Ibarra, a pre-business freshman, voiced a different sentiment. Though she texts more often than she talks on the phone, she said she wouldn’t talk on her cell phone as much if future studies were to show harmful effects.

“”The main things that are coming out of a cell phone are microwaves,”” said Bradford Barber, a research professor of radiology at the UA. Barber is also a physicist that develops instrumentation in nuclear medicine and he works with gamma rays.

“”There’s no clear mechanism for causing cancer with these kinds of microwaves that you would have from a cell phone,”” he said.

Gamma rays, X-rays and particles found from radioisotopes can cause cancer at very high levels. It seems unlikely for long wave radiation such as radio waves to cause cancer, Barber said.

“”The fact that we are observing changes really highlights the need to do the studies,”” Volkow said, “”to be properly able to answer the question of whether cell phone exposure could have harmful effects or not.””

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