As little as 10 minutes on a cell phone can trigger changes in brain cells linked to cell division and cancer, suggests a new study conducted by researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and published in the Biochemical Journal.
Previously, advocates of cell-phone safety have maintained that the phones cannot cause brain damage because the microwave radiation that they emit is at a level too low to heat the body’s cells. But in the new study, changes in biological processes began at an energy level even lower than that used by a typical phone, even without heating occurring.
“Safety guidelines assume [that] health effects from mobiles can only occur when significant heating of body tissue occurs. [But] this study shows biological changes in response to low-level mobile phone radiation — something that could potentially have implications for health,” said Graham Philips of the British nonprofit Powerwatch.
Researchers exposed both human and rat cells to low-level radiation at a frequency of 875 megahertz, a similar frequency to that used by most cellular phones. The intensity of the radiation was far lower than that used by most phones, however.
Even so, within 10 minutes the scientists observed changes within the cells. A chemical switch regulating cell division was switched on — a switch that has been linked to a variety of cancers.
There was no direct evidence of cancer inducement in the current study. However, the researchers point out that the changes occurring at the low radiation level were non-thermal in nature, something previously said to be impossible. Thus, the study challenges the entire basis on which cell phones’ presumption of safety has been based.
“The significance lies in showing cells do react to cell-phone radiation in a non-thermal way,” said co-author Rony Seger. “We used radiation power levels that were around one tenth of those produced by a normal mobile. The changes we observed were clearly not caused by heating.”
“This helps explain why mobile phone radiation has been linked to increases in cancer tumors,” said consumer health advocate Mike Adams. “Until now, skeptics have said the radiation wasn’t intense enough to cause cells to overheat, but now we’re learning there can be significant cellular changes taking place at far lower levels of exposure.”