Sunday 13 December 2009, 23:00

Mobile phone use: is there a health risk?

Recent findings on the association between mobile phone use and brain diseases

Mobile phone use: is there a health risk?

The worldwide spread of mobile phone use has raised concerns about potential health hazards. Although most of the studies conducted so far have focused on the risk for the development of brain tumors, recent studies have also addressed the risk for other CNS diseases.


Mobile phones emit radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, which may penetrate the human brain for about 4-6 cm. That’s why the main concerns on the use of mobile phones regard brain-health effects.


The experimental evidence has failed to demonstrate that there exists an association between use of cellular phones and cancer risk. Moreover, the extremely low-frequency radio waves don’t have sufficient energy to destabilize electron configurations within DNA molecules and promote the genetic lesions (such as DNA mutations or DNA strand breaks) responsible for neoplastic transformation of brain cells. Therefore current evidence is against a relationship between exposure to mobile phone radio waves and cancer risk, at least in the short-time period. However the picture is less clear and no data are available for the long-term exposure.


Rather interesting are also the results achieved by a recent study on the possible association between exposure to mobile phone radio waves and brain diseases other than tumors. This study has shown that there exists only a weak positive association between the use of mobile phones and symptoms of headache and vertigo, although it has not been possible to find a cause-effect relationship between radio waves exposure and these symptoms. All the other investigated CNS disorders (such as Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis) don't appear to have any association with the use of mobile phones.


Despite the comforting results achieved so far, until we have data from long-term trials the controversy about a possible relationship between mobile phone use and brain diseases will remain an open chapter.


By Chiara De Carli

Category: Health

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