Cell phones: They might be useful, or even impressive, but they may also be lethal

Cell phones may be man’s best friend in many developed countries, but how dangerous are they? Although this is a controversial question in the scientific world, we appear no closer to an answer. Indeed, the debate over the safety of cell phones has been reignited and has led to yet another close examination of possible effects related to their use. In the second half of 2003, Leif Salford, a neurology professor at the University of Lund in Sweden, and his team (a very well-respected group in the science world) recently published a study that revealed, for the first time, a clear link between the radiation emitted by GSM cell phones (the most widely used in Greece) and brain damage in laboratory rats. Salford exposed 32 rats to radiation from this type of phone for two hours on a daily basis. The phones were attached to the side of the small enclosures so that the rats would have intermittent direct exposure to and varied the intensity of the radiation in each group in order to reproduce the range of exposure experienced by human cell-phone users. After 50 days of exposure, the rats’ brains were examined and found to have extensive blood vessel leakage and areas of shrunken, damaged neurons. It also showed that radiation caused the protective barrier in the rats’ brains to leak, permitting blood proteins that are normally kept away from brain tissue to contact neurons. According to a recent article in the American periodical Popular Science, Salford’s study shows that «the higher the radiation exposure level, the more damage was apparent. The (control groups), by contrast, showed little to no damage. If human brains are similarly affected, the damage could produce measurable, long-term mental deficits.» The Lund University study sent shockwaves through the scientific community, as it also found that cell phone use can be linked to the appearance of Alzheimer’s disease.