This exposure to radiation seemed to improve memory and thinking in the “normal” mice and prevent dementia in the “Alzheimer’s” mice, according to the scientists. Autopsies of the mice exposed to radiation seemed to show fewer plaques in their brains.Does this mean you should stop worrying about potentially harmful effects of mobile phone use? Or that using your mobile phone a lot will prevent memory loss? Not according to Dr. William Thies, Ph.D., chief medical and scientific officer for the Alzheimer’s Association.
“This article is certainly no call to ‘self medicate’ by spending more time on your cell phone, especially in risky environments such as while driving,” he says. “No one should feel they are being protected from Alzheimer’s, dementia or cognitive decline by using their cell phones based on this study.”It’s hard to say what these results mean for Alzheimer’s research. “This idea deserves further study,” says Dr. Thies. “The unexpected effects observed are potentially interesting and justify further study under rigorously controlled conditions using larger numbers of animals. It needs to be replicated in animals before we begin to even consider trying it in people, as animal models of Alzheimer’s and people with the disease are very different. Potential therapies that have been ‘successful’ in mouse models of Alzheimer’s have not worked in people.”
It’s even harder to say what these results mean when added to the conflicting evidence on mobile phone usage and brain health. A recent report endorsed by a group of scientists makes the case for caution and further study of the association between mobile phone usage and brain tumors. But a 2009 analysis of brain tumor rates in Scandinavia shows no increase in the rate of tumors since the introduction of mobile phones. As the authors of that analysis note, this may mean there is no association, but it also may mean the study was too small to show any association, that only subgroups of mobile phone users develop tumors, or that tumors take many years to develop.
It looks like it will be years before we know what mobile phone usage does to our brains.