Mobile Phone Exposure Causes
Brain Damage in Rats (Press Release)
Environmental Health Perspectives
January 29, 2003
Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) found for the first time that
electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by certain mobile phones damaged
neurons in the brains of rats.
The researchers studied 12- to 26-week-old rats because their developmental
age is comparable to that of human teenagers, who are some of the heaviest
users of mobile phones.
"The situation of the growing brain might deserve special concern," the
study authors wrote, "since biological and maturational processes are
particularly vulnerable. We cannot exclude that after some decades of often
daily use, a whole generation of users may suffer negative effects as early
as middle age."
Three groups of rats were exposed for 2 hours to GSM mobile phone EMFs of
different strengths. GSM, which stands for Global System for Mobile
Communications, is the main standard for mobile phones used in Europe, as
well as in many countries in the Middle East and Asia. GSM is one of several
standards by which mobile phones in the United States operate.
The study found that EMF exposure was associated with leakage of albumin
through the blood-brain barrier and neuronal damage that increased in
response to the amount of exposure. The authors acknowledged that the study
sample was small, but stated that "the combined results are highly
significant and exhibit a clear dose-response relation."
Earlier EMF studies have focused on whether exposure might cause cancer,
with some studies finding increased risk but most showing no effects or even
"Scientists have been looking for some time at the possible effects of
exposure to the energy coming out of cell phones,"
says Dr. Jim Burkhart, science editor for Environmental Health Perspectives.
"These scientists decided to look in a new place, studying potential nerve
damage, rather than cancer growth. Their results suggest a strong need for
further study as we all rely on cell phones more and more."
The study team was headed by Leif G. Salford of the Department of Neurology
at Lund University in Sweden. Other authors include Arne E. Brun, Jacob L.
Eberhardt, Lars Malmgren, and Bertil R.R. Persson. The study will appear in
a future print issue of EHP.