Research looks at how cell phones affect brain activity - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Research looks at how cell phones affect brain activity

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BETHESDA, MARYLAND (KWWL) -- New research shows using a cell phone can affect brain activity.

A small study from the National Institutes of Health found radio frequency signals from a mobile phones speed up the way brain cells metabolize glucose, which is a cell's energy source.  Neurologists say that puts those brain cells closest to the phone's antenna under stress.

"Cell phone exposure, in this case for 50 minutes, affects the human brain," National Institutes of Health Dr. Nora Volkow said.

"Those brain cells may tolerate the stress just fine but it may be that for some that extra stress just pushes those cells over," UH Case Medical Center Neurologist Dr. Michael DeGeorgia said.

How far those cells can or should be pushed remains a mystery. And studies on whether mobile phone usage leads to brain tumors have been inconclusive.

It's going to take years of additional study to determine the long-term effects, if any.  But more than 90% of us use a wireless device, especially children and teenagers whose brains are still developing.

"We don't know what the long-term consequences of driving increased activity within those regions of the brain will be when these children become adults," Dr. Keith Black said.

The lead researcher on this latest study says she won't stop using a cell phone... But she will change the way she uses it.

"I no longer use the cell phone by putting it close to my brain. I use an ear piece," Dr. Nora Volkow said.

About a quarter of U.S. households are wireless only.

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