Can Cell Phones Help Fight Alzheimer's?
Study Shows Exposure to Electromagnetic Waves May Prevent Alzheimer's Disease
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 6, 2010 -- Cell phone exposure may be helpful in the fight against
Alzheimer's disease, a new study shows.
The study, involving mice, provides evidence that long-term exposure to
electromagnetic waves associated with cell phone use may protect against, and
even reverse, Alzheimer's disease.
The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
"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," study researcher Gary Arendash, PhD, of the University of South
Florida, says in a news release. "It was even more astonishing that the
electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones actually reversed memory
impairment in old Alzheimer's mice."
The researchers say they found that exposing old mice with Alzheimer's
disease to electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones reduced brain
deposits of beta-amyloid. Brain plaques formed by the abnormal accumulation of
beta-amyloid are hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, which is why most treatments
try to target the protein.
The study allowed scientists to isolate the effects of cell phone exposure
on memory from other lifestyle factors, such as exercise and diet, the
The study involved 96 mice, including mice genetically engineered to develop
Alzheimer's disease and normal mice. Both the Alzheimer's mice and the normal
rodents were exposed to the electromagnetic field generated by standard cell
use for two one-hour periods daily for seven to nine months.
The mice didn't wear headsets, and no one held tiny phones to their ears.
Their cages, rather, were arranged around a centrally located antenna
generating the cell phone signal.
Each rodent was housed the same distance from the antenna and exposed to
electromagnetic waves, at a level typically emitted by a cell phone pressed
against a human head.
The researchers say that if cell phone exposure was begun when the
Alzheimer's mice were young adults, and before signs of memory loss became
apparent, their cognitive ability was protected. And if older mice with
Alzheimer's were exposed, their memory impairment improved. What's more, months
of cell phone exposure even boosted the memories of normal mice, the
The researchers say the memory benefits in normal mice of cell phone
exposure took months to show up, suggesting a similar effect in humans might
take years. However, they also caution that "care should be taken in
extrapolating our results to cell phone use and [electromagnetic wave] exposure