I would usually just pass by a study showing that exposure to cell phone radiation reduces dementia in mice. Studies like this are a staple of popular journalism. The problem with them is that they stand alone. Real science requires results like these to be replicated by other researchers working in other settings. You know the drill, “Study Shows Coffee is Bad for You!” One month later, we read, “Coffee Boosts Health!’
It’s the same way with this cell phone/mouse/dementia story.
Inveterate cell-phone addicts may feel that the devices help them to work smarter, and — surprisingly — they may be right.
If they’re mice, that is.
In mice prone to an animal form of Alzheimer’s disease, long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation typical of cell phones slowed and reversed the course of the illness, according to Gary Arendash of the University of South Florida in Tampa and colleagues.
A similar exposure in normal mice — for two hours a day over seven to nine months — improved their cognitive abilities compared with controls, Arendash and colleagues said in the January issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, which is the research journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
The findings provide “striking evidence for both protective and disease-reversing effects” of long-term exposure to radiation at cell phone levels, Arendash and colleagues said.
But outside experts cautioned that the science in the study — while mainstream — is still very early.
“You just have to remember where you are in the mainstream — right up at the head of it,” said Bill Thies, chief medical and science officer of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Thies told MedPage Today that the research needs to be repeated and confirmed, and various aspects of it need more study, before it’s ready for prime time.
“This is no call for anyone to self-medicate,” Thies said.
So what do we know for sure? Nothing.
I do expect this study to stimulate more research. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that it will not be shown to apply to humans.