NIH Study on "Effects of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Signal Exposure on Brain Glucose Metabolism" Received World-Wide Media Coverage

Nora D. Volkow, Dardo Tomasi, Gene-Jack Wang, Paul Vaska, Joanna S. Fowler, Frank Telang, Dave Alexoff, Jean Logan, Christopher Wong, in JAMA 2011, Volume 305, Issue 8, pp. 808–813

This study reports on the effects of mobile phone radiofrequency (RF) signal exposure on brain glucose metabolism. It was conducted at Brookhaven National Laboratory during 2009, included 47 healthy participants who underwent positron emission tomography (PET) following a 50-minute exposure to RF electromagnetic fields (EMF) generated by a commercial mobile phone handset. The main finding reported by the researchers was that acute exposure to mobile phone radiation resulted in increased brain glucose metabolism in regions ipsilateral to exposure (compared to sham).

However, caution should be taken when interpreting these new results as the dosimetry is limited, i.e., correlation as function of distance from the antenna instead of induced fields and poorly defined antenna input power level as the phone was activiated via the network. Additionally, it appears that the study design was single-blind, which may be a potential confound.

These results are similar to our previous findings [Huber et al., 2002; Huber et al., 2005] where we used PET to show that RF EMF exposure induces changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) ipsilateral to exposure. Furthermore, although this study was the first to show an effect on brain metabolism, several previous studies have already demonstrated effects on brain activity (EEG during waking and sleep, cortical excitability).

Overall, these new findings support previous evidence that mobile phone RF EMF influences brain activity. Despite this, the underlying mechanisms or potential consequences of these alterations in brain function remain unknown. We believe that the dosimetry should be improved to further strengthen the study.

Sarah Loughran, Peter Achermann & Niels Kuster


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