While evidence linking cell phone use to an increased risk of brain tumors remains inconclusive, a new study published on January 6, 2010 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease reveals the unexpected finding by researchers at the University of South Florida that exposure to electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones prevented and even reversed Alzheimer’s disease symptoms in a mouse model.
Gary Arendash, PhD of USF’s the Florida Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and his associates tested the effects of the electromagnetic field generated by standard cell phone use on 96 mice, some of which had been genetically modified to develop the amyloid beta plaques and memory problems characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease in humans. The animals were housed in cages surrounding an antenna that generated a cell phone signal during two one hour periods per day for seven to nine months. Mice bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease exposed to the electromagnetic field from young adulthood performed as well on memory and cognitive ability skills as normal older mice. And, in the control mice, months of exposure improved memory to greater than normal levels.
When older mice already showing cognitive dysfunction were exposed to the waves, their impairment was reversed. Examination of the animals’ brains revealed that amyloid beta deposits, which form harmful plaques in Alzheimer’s disease, had been eliminated. The researchers suggest that the small increase in brain temperature observed in the Alzheimer’s mice could be responsible for the finding, by causing the substance to be released from brain cells.
"It surprised us to find that cell phone exposure, begun in early adulthood, protects the memory of mice otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer's symptoms," Dr Arendash remarked. "It was even more astonishing that the electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones actually reversed memory impairment in old Alzheimer's mice."
"Since we selected electromagnetic parameters that were identical to human cell phone use and tested mice in a task closely analogous to a human memory test, we believe our findings could have considerable relevance to humans," he added.
"Our study provides evidence that long-term cell phone use is not harmful to brain," concluded study coauthor Chuanhai Cao, PhD. "To the contrary, the electromagnetic waves emitted by cell phones could actually improve normal memory and be an effective therapy against memory impairment."
"If we can determine the best set of electromagnetic parameters to effectively prevent beta-amyloid aggregation and remove pre-existing beta amyloid deposits from the brain, this technology could be quickly translated to human benefit against AD," he noted. "Since production and aggregation of ß-amyloid occurs in traumatic brain injury, particularly in soldiers during war, the therapeutic impact of our findings may extend beyond Alzheimer's disease."
"It will take some time to determine the exact mechanisms involved in these beneficial memory effects," Dr Arendash predicted. "One thing is clear, however - the cognitive benefits of long-term electromagnetic exposure are real, because we saw them in both protection- and treatment-based experiments involving Alzheimer's mice, as well as in normal mice."