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Cell Phone Use Increases Regional Brain Activity

Areas closest to the antenna show increased brain glucose metabolism with acute cell phone use

TUESDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Acute cell phone use affects brain glucose metabolism in the area nearest to the phone's antenna, according to a study published in the Feb. 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Nora D. Volkow, M.D., of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues investigated the impact of 50 minutes of cell phone exposure on brain glucose metabolism, a marker of brain activity, in healthy people. The researchers placed cell phones on both ears of 47 volunteers and measured brain glucose metabolism using positron emission tomography under two scenarios: once with one cell phone activated for 50 minutes, and once with both phones off. The main outcome measures were brain glucose metabolism evaluated as absolute metabolism (µmol per 100 g per minute) and normalized metabolism (specific region normalized to whole-brain glucose metabolism).

The researchers found that, although whole-brain metabolism was the same whether the phones were on or off, the specific area closest to the antenna (the orbitofrontal cortex and the temporal pole) displayed significantly higher metabolism while exposed to an activated cell phone. Cell phone-related increases were significantly correlated with estimated amplitudes of the electromagnetic field for absolute and normalized metabolism.

"This study provides evidence that in humans radiofrequency-modulated electromagnetic field exposure from cell phone use affects brain function, as shown by the regional increases in metabolic activity," the authors write. "Further studies are needed to assess if these effects could have potential long-term harmful consequences."

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