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Cellphone Radiation May Protect Brain From Alzheimers 254

Posted by kdawson
from the i-forget-why dept.
We've discussed cellphones and cancer many times. Here's a new angle: reader olddotter sends in a Reuters article suggesting that cellphone radiation may protect the brain from Alzheimer's disease. "At the end of that time, they found cellphone exposure erased a build-up of beta amyloid, a protein that serves as a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's mice showed improvement and had reversal of their brain pathology..."
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Cellphone Radiation May Protect Brain From Alzheimers

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  • scary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StripedCow (776465) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:55PM (#30685912)

    This proves that cellphone radiation actually interacts with matter in the brain... which is something to be afraid of, in my opinion.

  • Re:Choice to Make (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 07, 2010 @03:00PM (#30685980)

    Can alzheimers be the cure for cancer?

    That's not far off being true.

    http://www.healthcentral.com/alzheimers/news-456179-98.html [healthcentral.com]

  • Re:scary (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 07, 2010 @03:31PM (#30686306)

    We've have known for years that non-ionizing radiation can affect biochemical processes (e.g., enzyme kinetics), and can have physiological effects (e.g., suppression of melatonin production, possibly via the same mechanism).

    I think sometimes people with physics or engineering backgrounds make the assumption that we understand all the rules and therefore can say with authority "X can't happen". That's rarely true. Being unable to explain a phenomenon may be cause for dismissing it as spurious in some fields, where the rules are understood well enough to distinguish between the improbable and impossible, but in biology that's a dangerous assumption to make. I tend to operate with the reverse of Sherlock Holmes' rule, i.e., if you eliminate the suitably improbable, whatever is left, no matter how impossible, is probably true.

  • Re:Choice to Make (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @03:40PM (#30686404)

    No correlation to cancer? That's not what studies [sciencedaily.com] are showing. I've also read that cell phones sitting in pockets have been connected to reduced sperm count.

    Certainly, given the widespread use of mobile phones and their clear value to us, it would be quite earth-shattering to discover a clear and specific link between phones and cancer. However, at this point I've say the threat is likely quite minimal with moderate use. But mobile phones haven't been around nearly long enough for us to be able to gauge their effects on us. Wait until this generation starts aging; then we'll have a better indication of whether or not cell phones are a danger or not.

    You seem fairly eager to believe one study over another simply because that one shows a positive side-effect. There's no reason why one study should be inherently more valid than the other, especially since many of these other studies have been conducted directly on humans.

  • The argument, as I understand it, is that cancer is caused by mutated DNA, and DNA cannot be mutated by radiation that's too weak to break chemical bonds. Since cell phone radiation doesn't break bonds, it doesn't cause cancer. If Alzheimer's is caused by something other than mutated DNA, the argument doesn't apply.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 07, 2010 @04:05PM (#30686752)

    Because there is a big difference between the hypothesis that cellular phones can cause cancerous tumors to form in human brains and the finding that it can break up a plaque at a much larger scale...

  • Re:Choice to Make (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 07, 2010 @04:06PM (#30686776)

    "I've read.."

    How can you read that story on the Israeli study and come to any conclusion? I wouldn't call it a proper study that supposedly shows the link between cellphones and tumors. It states that the "nearly 500" test subjects were already diagnosed with tumors. Their control group was 1500 healthy subjects. It also states that the Israeli people are generally heavy cellphone users.

    So you ask heavy cellphone users already diagnosed with tumors if they use cellphones..what does that prove? Didn't the same 500 people also use the toilet? How do we know the toilet didn't give them tumors??

    And what about the 1500 healthy heavy cellphone users? Did they become diagnosed with a tumor, or stay healthy, giving the fact the article doesn't talk about the control group, I guess we're left to assume the control group remained healthy? It doesn't make sense how this shows a strong link..I wouldn't even call it a correlation.

    From my experience, any small study like that only shows there needs to be a larger study done...

    Also, ironically, on that same page was a link to a study involving 420,095 heavy cellphone users, for a much longer period of time, coming to the opposite conclusion.

    People are fairly eager to believe one study over another simply because it shows the side-affect that they are biased to..it's called statistics :)

  • Re:Choice to Make (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Thursday January 07, 2010 @04:11PM (#30686824)

    Can someone email me a copy of the actual paper? I can't find it on the researcher's site.

    The study's subjects were asked to detail their cell phone use patterns in terms of how frequently they used one, and the average length of calls. They were compared to a sample of about 1,300 healthy control subjects.

    The study also found an increased risk of cancer for heavy users who lived in rural areas. Due to fewer antennas, cell phones in rural areas need to emit more radiation to communicate effectively.

    Sadetzki predicts that, over time, the greatest effects will be found in heavy users and children.

    While anecdotal evidence has been substantial, the consistency of the results of this study support an association between cell phone use and these tumors. The risks have been hard to prove, mainly due to the long latency period involved in cancer development, explains Sadetzki.

    Controlled according to what criteria? Did he account for possible exposure to agricultural carcinogens among rural users? Inferior access to health care there? Also, self-reported studies are inherently inaccurate: it'd be far better to go by reliable numbers involving actual cell phone usage records.

    The researcher also mentioned that Israelis are particular heavy users of cell phones, implying that might be one reason he was able to produce results where others have failed. What about other reasons Israelis might be different, such as exposure to constant warfare, or dust from the Negev?

    We shouldn't jump the gun on this study:

    • Many researchers have tried to find correlations between cell phone use and cancer. He's the only one who's had any success. Even the best-designed studies have a chance of producing Type I and Type II errors (false positives and false negatives). With enough studies, you'll eventually find a spurious result. See publication bias [wikipedia.org].
    • Studies that purport to show results when many other have failed are suspect for other reasons [wikipedia.org] too.
    • Going by the article, the study does not seem very well-controlled

    In short, given that cell phones are utterly important to our lives today, I'm going to have to see a lot more independent evidence before I even begin to suspect that they're actually dangerous.

  • by Xeno man (1614779) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @04:15PM (#30686878)
    That's easy. After years of studies and studies on mice and on people, there has been no consensus. Some studies say they do, others say they don't. Some say they have no frigging clue. Given that the theory of "cell phones cause cancer" is popular only through fear of the invisible and unknown forces by the ignorant masses, a slightly more intelligent group of people who visit /. choose to dismiss said theories because they choose to not be afraid of every rumor they hear of. I bet most people here didn't believe the video of the cell phones popping a single kernel of pop corn. Well maybe some did but I know I didn't. Now about this new study, the general response has been either to make jokes or basically said, "That is interesting, I look forward to hearing more about it later." I haven't seen any posts of people shouting out "Cell phones are good for you!" In the future there will be more studies, maybe some on people, where we will get a clearer picture. If the results are just a muddy as cancer studies then we will dismiss the healing power of cell phones just as easily.
  • Re:scary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by steelfood (895457) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @04:21PM (#30686946)

    Yeah, when I went to Disney, those mouse heads were huge!

    How's that for anecdotal evidence?

  • Re:Choice to Make (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Whiternoise (1408981) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @04:31PM (#30687092)

    Why would they cause cancer (any more than wifi/general EM radiation)? It's not ionising radiation as far as i know and short bursts of exposure to any sort of radiation is fine - people live in Chernobyl without any side effects and the background radiation level there is substantially above the norm.

    Certainly this is an interesting study, but they chose a relatively small sample size and a pretty obscure cancer. Interestingly it IS NOT brain cancer, they state a 50% increased chance of salivary gland cancer (50%). Now, correct me if i'm wrong, but this is a case of overblown statistics and media hype. Parotid cancer is relatively rare, in 2002/2003 in England there were around 650 cases. A 50% increase is.. oh, right.. only 900 odd cases. What am I getting at? Double a small number and you get a small number. Ok, so you increase your risk of cancer which is bad, but it's a pretty rare form of cancer and your chance doesn't really go up that much. Say i had a 5% chance of mouth cancer and using my phone bumps it up to 7.5%, should I be worried? Well perhaps i'd cut back a bit, but i wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

    Now compare this to Lung cancer due to smoking. 90% of all lung cancer cases are attributable to smoke inhalation and a 23-fold increase. That is a fundamentally different statistic, 23-fold is 2300% and is definitely something to worry about. It's not a totally accurate conversion, but suffice to say 23 times more likely is much worse than an increase of 3 odd percent.

    If TFA you linked had said that there is 10 times the risk i'd be listening, but as it stands it's just over enthusiastic reporting.

  • Re:Choice to Make (Score:2, Interesting)

    by memnock (466995) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @05:02PM (#30687478)

    i wonder about a bigger question: does having a cell phone next to your head for a couple of hours per day affect your health? between studies saying that it does/not cause cancer and now this about effect on Alzheimer's, is it safe to say that having a phone to your head for X hours/day has some kind of effect? or have people accepted the fact that cells will somehow affect the brain or head, just not sure what the effect is?

  • MRI effect? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Frans Faase (648933) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @05:57PM (#30688138) Homepage

    When my wife got an MRI when as part of the process to determine if she had Alzheimer's Disease, which turned out to be the case, she experienced a clearing of her mind during the MRI which lasted for about a day. When I reported this to the neurologist, she frowned upon it. I wonder if anybody has reported this effect, or whether it is even a real effect.

  • Re:Choice to Make (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Belial6 (794905) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @06:32PM (#30688600)
    One of my favorites was when I was talking to a woman at a party once, and she insisted that we should not be using technology for farming. I had to ask..."So, we shouldn't use plows? Or even a sturdy stick to dig up the ground?" Apparently she had this idea that there were huge hydroponic farms growing our food, and that that was bad. She also clearly didn't know whet the word "technology" means.
  • Re:Choice to Make (Score:4, Interesting)

    by diablovision (83618) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @07:01PM (#30688906)

    Why would they cause cancer (any more than wifi/general EM radiation)? It's not ionising radiation as far as i know and short bursts of exposure to any sort of radiation is fine - people live in Chernobyl without any side effects and the background radiation level there is substantially above the norm.

    Do you understand the difference between EM radiation and particle radiation? Unfortunately the difference between the "radiation" fallout from nuclear weapons and disasters and the "radiation" from cell phones is lost on the media. Particle radiation is high-energy particles of matter, e.g. alpha particles, that smash into atoms and molecules and cause damage at the molecular level to your DNA.

    EM radiation is pure emitted energy. Light is EM radiation. Heat is EM radiation. Microwaves and radio signals are EM radiation. The wavelength of cell phone radiation is so long (between 10 and 30 cm) that it is literally impossible for it to interact with single molecules and cause damage to your DNA. However, at that wavelength it can still transfer heat, like a microwave oven.

    The notion that cell phone radiation causes cancer directly, as in through genetic damage, is ludicrous. It would only be able to cause cancer by causing localized heating of parts of your brain which may set into effect a cascade of effects that may manifest as cancer. However, I think this is unlikely.

    As for sperm counts, I think carrying a cell phone in your pocket is about bad for your sperm count as would be carrying around one of those chemical warm packets or wearing tighter underwear--the extra heat is the only culprit.

  • Re:Ironic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by YourExperiment (1081089) on Friday January 08, 2010 @12:57PM (#30696380)

    By yr 0wn l0g1c, praps 1 shud p0st l13k th15 - lulz!!

    Then again, perhaps I should stick to using proper spelling and grammar. That way it will be easy for you to work out what I mean.

    Those of us who sometimes feel compelled to point out errors are only doing so because we love our language. I have no objection whatsoever to the constant evolution of language, but aberrations such as "irregardless" make me wince. When a word is used to mean the exact opposite of what it says, this can only cause confusion. I have to live with people using it, but I certainly don't have to like it.

  • Re:Ironic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cassander (251642) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:12PM (#30703986)

    The problem is there is no such thing as "proper spelling and grammar". By who's authority is it "proper"? The dictionary can't even produce self-consistency, let alone some sort of overall fundamental logical sense.

    Fundamentally, I see nothing wrong with your string of l33t-speak (or text-speak as the kids are calling it now) as long as its meaning is unambiguous.

    If "irregardless" makes you wince, how do you feel about flammable/inflammable? Also, will "irregardless" suddenly be acceptable ~5-10 years from now when it makes its way into an "official" printed dictionary like Webster's? Irregardless doesn't cause confusion, because the only people that don't understand its definition (synonym for "regardless", despite apparent root structure) are grammar nazis who refuse to learn.

    Evolution is, by definition, made of aberrations.

    As I said in my original post, I am a recovering former grammar nazi. I understand, to some extent, where you are coming from. They key realization for me was that an "error" isn't really an "error" unless it actually prevents communication from occurring.

    I love my language too. "If you love something, set it free." If you dig in your heels and stick to "proper" spelling and grammar, you will rapidly find yourself unable to communicate with the rest of us.

  • Re:Ironic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by YourExperiment (1081089) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @10:18AM (#30707036)

    Fundamentally, I see nothing wrong with your string of l33t-speak (or text-speak as the kids are calling it now) as long as its meaning is unambiguous.

    I see nothing fundamentally wrong with it either, providing it's used in a context where it's understood and therefore accepted. Someone texting their friends using it is fair enough (using "proper" language might even be frowned upon by one's peers). Using it on your resumé just means you're unlikely to get a job.

    You could spell every other word in your post wrong, and I would probably still understand it, but it might take me rather longer and my opinion of you would be consequentially lower. If it was too annoying, I might not even bother to read it.

    If "irregardless" makes you wince, how do you feel about flammable/inflammable?

    It's a shame if someone feels the need to use the obsolete "inflammable" of course, but at least the etymology of it is somewhat understandable. "Irregardless" is different, since its origins lie only in ignorance.

    Evolution is, by definition, made of aberrations.

    After such mutations, the useful ones survive and the remainder die out.

    If you dig in your heels and stick to "proper" spelling and grammar, you will rapidly find yourself unable to communicate with the rest of us.

    If I insist on using the correct word, you will somehow become incapable of understanding me? Everyone knows the meaning of "regardless", while some people may be confused by "irregardless". I prefer to use the word which is shorter, more widely understood, more elegant and (least importantly) technically correct.

    As for others using "irregardless", I am perfectly capable of guessing their true meaning by context, but my opinion of them will be lower.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears

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