Expert Commentary

Effects of cell phone use on brain glucose metabolism

2011 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association on the effects of cell phone exposure on brain activity.

Since cell phones were first popularized in the 1980s, questions have been raised over their potential health risks. In the past 10 years, numerous observational studies have been released suggesting harmful links to brain function and sleep patterns, and to heart palpitations and various forms of cancer. Often, however, other studies have arrived at opposing conclusions.

A 2011 clinical study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Effects of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Signal Exposure on Brain Glucose Metabolism,” evaluated the effects on brain activity (measured by brain-glucose metabolism) from high levels of cell phone use.

The study’s findings include:

  • While whole-brain metabolism did not change between subjects in the “on-condition” (50-minute muted phone call received) and “off-condition” (phone next to head, but not active), the section of the brain closest to the phone antenna registered a significant increase in brain glucose metabolism for subjects whose phones were on.
  • The increases in brain glucose activity were significantly correlated with the magnitude of the amplitude of the electromagnetic field generated by the phone.

The study does not indicate that the increase in brain activity has any directly observable adverse health effects.

Tags: cancer, communication, technology, mobile tech

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