Feeling Paranoid? Blame It On Your Cell Phone!

by Gaurav Kheterpal on February 25, 2011

The health hazards of cell phones are a well documented open secret. Whether it’s Wi-Fi making kids sick, explosive cell phones (literally!), the infamous Blackberry Thumb or the after effects of overheard cell phone conversations, we at the TheTelecomBlog have made an honest attempt at uncovering how cell phones are increasingly affecting human lives.

A study recently conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that holding a cell phone to your ear for a sustained period of time does causes “changes in your brain cell activity” in the part of the brain closest to the antenna.

Interestingly, researchers say it’s unclear whether the impact of “increased brain activity” is good, bad or neutral. Yeah right, haven’t I heard that before?

The study involved 47 volunteers who were brought into a lab at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, where they had cell phones positioned at both their left and right ears. The researchers, led by Dr. Nora D. Volkow observed that just 50 minutes of cell phone use was accompanied by a 7% increase in activity in the part of the brain closest to the antenna.  Since the increased activity occurred in regions near the antenna, researchers believe it isn’t related to the heat dissipated from the handset.

JAMA researchers therefore concluded their findings were of “unknown clinical significance” and that more research is needed. While I sincerely appreciate all the hard work put in by the JAMA team, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know how cell phones can be damaging to the human brain. Even if we assume that cell phone radiation is harmless to the human brain, there are plenty of other health hazards to be worried about.

Cell phones were considered to be a luxury few years back. Now, they are a necessity for some and an addiction for others. The JAMA research team acknowledged an increased brain activity in children and adolescents whose brains are much more vulnerable to insults of certain kinds. The need to be “always connected” through calls and texts brings a pressure of its own, especially amongst the youth.

Interestingly, WSJ quotes Reto Huber, a professor at the University Children’s Hospital Zurich, who believes this increased activity might actually be a blessing in disguise. He says that cell phones have the potential of serving as a non-invasive tool to interact with brain rhythms or stimulate parts of the brain that aren’t working optimally, there by helping treat depression patients.

Kent German from the CNET team believes that the recent JAMA research is yet another instance of scientific community reporting its findings and the wireless industry highlighting the points that it likes the best, silently discarding the others.

With all due respect to the “high-quality JAMA team”, this research joins the illustrious gang of studies which makes no conclusions as to whether cell phones are harmful. And we continue to live another day in our tech-savvy world of Droids, Galaxies and iPhones.

What do you make of this never-ending debate and the latest JAMA findings?

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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