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Cellphones Medicine Science Technology

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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  • Mice (Score:5, Funny)

    by maxume (22995) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:44PM (#30685740)

    Maybe the mice that were talking on cell phones had a richer mental life, staving off the disease for reasons other than the radiation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Thank you! Thank you!

      Finally, somebody has been able to point out that "correlation does not imply causation" without using that goddamn phrase.

    • Re:Mice (Score:5, Funny)

      by docneuro (849457) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:17PM (#30686176)

      Maybe the mice that were talking on cell phones had a richer mental life, staving off the disease for reasons other than the radiation.

      Nah. There was less amyloid because the mice unfortunately crashed their cars while talking on the cell phone and just died young.

      Nothing to see here... move along.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SEWilco (27983)

      Maybe the mice that were talking on cell phones had a richer mental life, staving off the disease for reasons other than the radiation.

      I don't know how much richer is thinking "Why does this box make noises like another mouse?"
      And they'd have a less rich mental life if they're using GPS to find their cheese in the maze.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Were the mice allowed to use the cell phones to make booty calls?
  • Choice to Make (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arthurpaliden (939626) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:45PM (#30685756)
    So I can not use a cell phone and may get alzheimers or I can use a cell phone and not get alzheimers but could get brain cancer ...... time to flip a coin.
    • by lorenlal (164133) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:46PM (#30685780)

      Maybe we've got it all wrong... Can alzheimers be the cure for cancer?

      • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:47PM (#30685800)
        I don't remember......
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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]

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Cancer prevents alzheimer's.

      • by ozbird (127571)
        Cancer is the cure for Alzheimers - the tumour kills you before you can develop it.

        In other news, mice exposed to mobile phone radiation were found to have a lower IQs and squeak unnecessarily loudly about inane topics.
    • Re:Choice to Make (Score:4, Informative)

      by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@@@pitabred...dyndns...org> on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:22PM (#30686224) Homepage
      ...there's no correlation of cell phones to brain cancer. What coin flipping is necessary? Cell phones are not actually known to cause any health problems by any valid study, and this research strongly suggests that they might help with Alzheimer's. Seems like a pretty good bet to me.
      • Re:Choice to Make (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MaWeiTao (908546) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:40PM (#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.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Am I the only one who isn't too concerned about sperm count?... I celebrate the arrival of my girlfriends monthly cycle, because protection isn't a guarantee... I've considered surgical protection, which would at least be reversible. While I can't really see myself wanting kids in the future, it's possibly I could change my mind and be disappointed.

          Also, as with tobacco, if it doesn't cause cancer in more than 50% of users, I'm less inclined to believe any study showing a correlation.

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

          by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Thursday January 07, 2010 @03:11PM (#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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Whiternoise (1408981)

          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

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

            by diablovision (83618) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @06:01PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          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.

          Except this study is directly studying the problem by blasting rats with cell phone radiation and studying the effects. The study you cited was nothing more than a survey conducted on Israelis with tumors in their salivary gland. There is a HUGE difference.

          The best you'll ever be able to claim with a survey is correlation, you cannot prove causation that way. However, you CAN prove causation with controlled experiments on rats, a-la TFA.

          Again, one study is a group actually experimenting on rats, the othe

      • by hardburn (141468)

        Cell phones are not actually known to cause any health problems by any valid study . . .

        Not quite right, but this fact shouldn't be abused by those claiming a health risk. If something is sufficiently studied, then there will always be outlier studies that got everything right but show the opposite results all the others. There are, in fact, a few well-run studies that show a correlation between health risks and cell phones, but these can be simply discounted against the overwhelming number of studies against.

        • There are times when I do believe that there are people out there worried that any technology is going to turn around and bite them, are concerned that texting causes cancer of the thumbs, or that too much typing causes you to ingest fatal doses of plastics through your finger tips.

          Are we paranoid yet?

    • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:22PM (#30686226)
      On a long enough timeline, the rate of survival always drops to zero. Stop worrying so much.
      • by mangu (126918)

        On a long enough timeline, the rate of survival always drops to zero

        Not necessarily. I believe some people now living may reach a time when medicine conquers aging. I also believe I'm in this group, since several of my ancestors lived more than 100 years.

    • by conureman (748753)

      RTFA Use the cell phone after onset of Alzheimer's.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Except that I've heard of numerous studies showing no link between cell phones and cancer, and no studies showing they do. From TFA:

      Groups such as the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society, and the National Institutes of Health, have all concluded that scientific evidence to date does not support any adverse health effects associated with the use of cellphones.

    • I'm part of the entitlement generation thank you very much. I want a way to get alzheimers AND brain cancer from one source for half the standard price. In fact, I move that we find a process to do this, document it under an open license, and torrent it. Cancer and Alzheimers want to be free! It's time we stop letting the corporate overlords and power hungry government officials create a false scarcity on alzheimer and cancer products!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by memnock (466995)

      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?

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:47PM (#30685784) Journal
    The mice have been running the experiment to check the safety of cellphones for mice use by making the human beings to use them for a long time. It is quite well known and well documented actually.
  • Hello, Mickey? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:48PM (#30685814) Homepage Journal

    The results were a major surprise and open the possibility of developing a noninvasive, drug-free treatment for Alzheimer's, said lead author Gary Arendash of the University of South Florida.

    He said he had expected cell phone exposure to increase the effects of dementia.

    This is how science is SUPPOSED to work! But don't get your hopes up...

    Many treatments that have shown promise in mice have had little effect on humans.

    I wonder if this affects the non-Alzheimer's "senior moments" as my mother calls them? I wish they'd had cell phones when I was young! Now where'd I put that damned phone???

    • I recall seeing a reference to something similar in humans a few weeks ago in an article discussing the proposed Maine law requiring warnings of possible brain cancer on cellphones. That article talked about the fact that there were mutliple long term studies looking into correlation between brain cancer and cell phone usage and they all found no increased brain cancer in cell phone users. One of the studies showed a minor, but statistically significant drop in dementia among cell phone users. The scientist
  • by jameskojiro (705701) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:53PM (#30685880) Journal

    Duct Tape, check
    Cell phones, check

    So we should go buy a bunch of those pre-paid cell phones and duct tape them to grandma's head and hope to heck her memory gets better.

  • Maybe it was just the heat. Now try keeping the mice in warmer cages. If their autonomic systems tend to cool the brain, try drugs that tend to increase the temperature of the mouse. Maybe it's just the warm brain that does this. Tell gramps to wear a hat when he goes out. Tinfoil optional.

    • tinfoil optional, but heat reflecting foil infused with mylar film is mandatory!

    • Any luck finding even an abstract? I looked ont he publisher's website but could only find a press release. I'm first wondering whether they even had a second circle of cages with an antenna in the center, but never turned on (and perhaps in a large Faraday cage). In the press release, they speculate about stimulation and blood flow from the EM, but this seems to warrant an experiment to determine its validity. As you say, it could simply be due to increased brain temperature. I mean, elevated temperature,
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      For all intents and purposes you have today's most annoying sig. Although I agree that "whom" shoud be deprecated.

  • Strapping the phones to my head as we speak, with each one set to forward to the next. I look forward to your calls.

  • scary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StripedCow (776465) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:55PM (#30685912)

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

    • Re:scary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sunking2 (521698) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:02PM (#30686014)
      Bingo. So much for the argument that the energy is non-ionizing thus cell phones are safe. Assuming this study is factual.
    • This proves that cellphone radiation actually interacts with matter in the brain... which is something to be afraid of, in my opinion.

      Nono, this is GOOD effects, not bad ones. Cellphone radiation has no bad effects, none whatsoever, but it has lots of beneficial effects. While we're on the subject, I highly recommend the Revigator [orau.org] for greater health.

      • I have some questions. First, the nasty one: Who funded this study? Telecoms companies?

        Next, assuming that radiation helps, why does it help? Could it be vibration? Would getting a massaging bed work as well? Thinking its more like the way blue and UV light helps against acne.

    • Re:scary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dr2chase (653338) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:16PM (#30686168) Homepage
      Yes, but. Cellphone radiation (.85-1.9Ghz) does not penetrate that far into your body, just as microwave radiation (2.45Ghz) does not penetrate that far into a potato.

      Studies show that mouse heads are much smaller than human heads, therefore they are getting a much larger dose to their brain, for a given external exposure.
      • Re:scary (Score:5, Funny)

        by mcmonkey (96054) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:26PM (#30686248) Homepage
        Studies show that mouse heads are much smaller than human heads

        [Citation needed]

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by steelfood (895457)

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

          How's that for anecdotal evidence?

      • Does alzheimers affect one specific, more central part of the brain? Do most brain cancers spring up more from some regions of the brain than others?

        Meningiomas are brain cancers from the meninges, the covering of the brain, so I'd assume that if cell phone radiation could penetrate through the skull and -if- it did lead to increased risk of cancer, meningiomas are one it could cause. On the other hand, my understanding of adult neuron production is that they come from deeper in the brain, by the ventricl

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 fiel

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      This proves that cellphone radiation actually interacts with matter in the brain

      So does learning. The question is whether the interaction is helpful, harmful, or neutral.

  • Easily explained (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sjonke (457707) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:58PM (#30685956) Journal

    Most people who die at 50 didn't have alzheimers.

    • by gknoy (899301) <gknoy@@@anasazisystems...com> on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:05PM (#30686036)

      That's an interesting point. As we conquer the lower hanging medical fruit, and prevent the things that used to kill people younger (disease, malnutrition, gum disease, accidents etc), a higher proportion of the people that DO die will be dying because of old age, or of diseases which only tend to affect older people.

      • I think we're already seeing that. The average life expectancy is much longer than it used to be. Go way back and I'd assume infectious diseases, wars, and animal attacks would be the primary causes of death. Today it's heart disease, automobile accidents, and cancer.

        I'm guessing if we cure cancer and heart disease, we'll be seeing a lot more neurological diseases though. I'd expect there's some natural upper limit to how old your brain can be before it's toast, and I'd expect that we aren't really livi

        • I'm guessing if we cure cancer and heart disease, we'll be seeing a lot more neurological diseases though

          FWIW, you're already seeing this. We've gotten good at treating heart disease. Still the #1 or 2 killer but we're pushing deaths into the 70's-90's instead of the 50-60 age level. Cancer, not so much, but still some progress in certain cancers.

          Go to a nursing home, any nursing home. There are two broad reasons why people are there - neurologic insult of various flavors (stroke, the various dementi

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:01PM (#30685986) Homepage

    He's going to ask for a Bluetooth headset.

  • Mr. Smithers trying to convince the townsfolk that his nuclear powered cell phones aren't dangerous. I bet they taste like chocolate, too!
  • I think my girlfriend has saved up enough cell phone usage to prevent alzheimers in both of us!
  • Quick! (Score:4, Funny)

    by peacefinder (469349) <alan...dewitt@@@gmail...com> on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:24PM (#30686238) Journal

    Everyone mail their old cell phones to Sir Terry Pratchett, stat!

    • by natehoy (1608657)

      With that much radiation, maybe he'll develop magical powers and finally get in to Unseen University.

  • by carlhaagen (1021273) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:25PM (#30686244)
    In many related discussions here on /., oh so many readers have, in various ways, blatantly slandered the idea that EM radiation in the microwave spectrum also has a directly, altering effect on tissue and matter in general - to whatever the extent may be. So, what's your stance now? I have the idea that this lot refused to believe this when it was in the context of f.e. "cellphones being bad for you", but just might be open the idea now that some "good" effect is proven from the EMR. If that's the case, why are these people changing their minds all of the sudden? Why accept this, but not the original arguments regarding microwave radiation?
    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:47PM (#30686504)

      Why accept this, but not the original arguments regarding microwave radiation?

      Because this is based on a scientific, reproducible study that shows an actual effect, whereas, the claims that there were negative effects were contradicted by all of the scientific, reproducible experiments that were run to test them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by yoma666 (1083023)
        Have you read up on the actual research that has been done? Check this for starters. http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=da2_1186974243 [liveleak.com] Bottom line is that cells/tissues are indeed influenced by EM radiation at cellphone or wifi frequencies. And seemingly the biggest problem compared to other EM-radiation is that your body simply cannot recognise the "new kinds" of radiation it's exposed to. This can turn out bad, but might also turn out good. The only thing that will prove wether we're fucking up or not is sim
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          And seemingly the biggest problem compared to other EM-radiation is that your body simply cannot recognise the "new kinds" of radiation it's exposed to.

          You mean the "new kinds" which have existed since the dawn of time? You realize we are pummeled with various wavelengths of EM radiation from all over the universe, not the least of which come from our own Sun, right? The Earth's magnetic field keeps out the nastiest high-frequency stuff for the most part, but the lower level stuff gets through. That's how radio telescopes work - they grab the sub-visible EM radiation from all over the galaxy that hits the planet and inundates us with EM radiation.

          Hey gu

    • 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 Mia'cova (691309)

      As someone who doubts cellphones cause statistically significant brain damage, I also doubt it causes statistically significant improvements. Naturally, the science will speak for itself either way.

      Certainly similar radiation at much higher doses will have an effect. Also, keep in mind mice have much smaller heads. A cellphone would have a much stronger effect on a mouse as the radiation will far more easily penetrate the skull and brain. In humans, much of the strength is lost before the signal makes it to

    • by Toonol (1057698)
      Many of us are as skeptical of these results as we are of the other results. Let more research be done, and see if we get consistently repeatable results.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Xeno man (1614779)
      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
    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday January 07, 2010 @03:27PM (#30687026) Homepage Journal

      Why accept this, but not the original arguments regarding microwave radiation?

      Because there isn't any evidence that cellphone use is harmful. Conjecture is useless until tested.

  • ...spend a few minutes each day with your head in the microwave.

  • There are quite a few studies showing low level radiation may be helpfull. Most of the scientists involved think the effects are related to cellular suicide. That is, each cell has a suicide mechanism that lets it kill itself if it 'thinks' (I use that word to represent some form biological test that evolution created that effectively make a decision) it is about to become a tumer.

    So in effect, our cells have evolved to suicide if they dectect mutations. Tumers and many other problems are caused when

  • Oh Yes! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 07, 2010 @03:25PM (#30686996)
    In your face Amish!!
  • with a couple "Venti's" daily and Alzheimer's is eradicated! http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703278604574624032849271284.html [wsj.com]
  • Ironic (Score:5, Funny)

    by LordKronos (470910) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @04:00PM (#30687450) Homepage

    So, cell phones protect from alzheimers? The condition that (among other effects) causes people to forget things ? I find that quite ironic, considering that it seems 99% of people forget how to drive when they're on one.

    P.S. At least I think that's irony. Every time I think I've got it down, someone shows me a new rule for what is or isn't irony. My apologies to the grammar Nazis in advance if I have it wrong.

  • MRI effect? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Frans Faase (648933) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @04:57PM (#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.

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