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back to article Mobiles really do fry your brains: JAMA

In the latest mobile health scare to hit the Interwebs, the Journal of the American Medical Association is reporting measurements of mobile use on brain chemistry. Although the research is currently of “unknown clinical significance”, it’s bound to feed a frenzy of new stories threatening death and horror on anyone using a …

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Dead Vulture

Where is...

Where is Lewis when you need him?

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Anonymous Coward

Wait for it...

Lewis is like a giant elephant, he takes his time but give him a few days and before you know it you've got a three page article and you're on the other side of the Alps.

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Joke

Lewis? I think he's on a BNFL junket today,

...tomorrow, and for as long as it takes until he's singlehandedly make everybody want to hug nuclear power.

I wonder where he'll end up after el Reg.

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Mobiles don't cause cancer.

These studies are pretty much worthless in terms of whether mobile phone use causes cancer. It is already known that although mobile usage has shot up over the years, cases of cancer have not increased at anywhere near the same level. If mobile use were causing cancer then those figures would correlate together.

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Statistics?

"cases of cancer have not increased at anywhere near the same level"

The argument I think is that many things cause brain cancer and phones may be one of them in which case 100 times more phones might mean only mean 1% more cases of cancer. Looking at number of cases of cancer across the board is pretty worthless given the pace of society (people living longer, changing diets , levels of global pollution etc etc)

If having a mobile phone increases your risk of certain types of cancer by even a tiny amount then manufacturers would have a responsibility to change how they are manufactured (shielding the ear side of the antenna or something)

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They might

Nobody is suggesting that they cause instant death to everybody who uses them. We might have noticed that.

Mobiles have only been widely used for 15-20 years, and the amount of time people spend on them is continuously increasing as tariffs get cheaper. We can't judge the long term effects of current or future usage based on experience so far.

If somebody aged 10 or younger starts using a mobile for several hours a week, what will be the effect when they are 50 or 60? If there is a moderate risk they will die prematurely, they at least deserve to know. Some won't care, but some will.

Lets not forget that it took several hundred years of tobacco use in this country before anyone acknowledged the cancer risk.

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Coat

How dare you use reason here?!

Rational folk have no place among ANGRY NERDS!!!

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Boffin

@Thomas 18

You have misunderstood things.

Since the spread of mobile phones started at different times in different countries then if mobile phones caused any adverse health effects (they don't) then those effects would cause a correlation between one country's start-time and ill-effects and another countries' start-time and ill-effects. e.g. Since for many years the UK had far higher usage than the USA then any ill effects would be seen first in the UK and then in the USA, human anatomy being a constant and therefore the temporal distance also being a constant. You could then predict (say) when an African nation would see the same ill effects as they started much later and prove that there was not just correlation but causation when your prediction came true.

In the absence of the above (and trust me, lots of people have looked) we can say unequivocally that mobile phones to do not cause ill effects; at least none that show up for 20+ years (the time of GSM adoption)

> (shielding the ear side of the antenna or something)

Err... no. The tower may be on the opposite side of the head, meaning that the phone would have to massively step up it's omnidirectional antenna power output to defeat the shielding and get through. Probably not what you wanted.

I used to laugh a lot at all those muppets who had "radiation shields" on their mobiles, and talk them through the above. Pretty much all of them ripped the "shield" off there and then.

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not really

I'd rather a bunch of physicists and medical professionals worked it out than trying to do statistical analysis using 2 different participant groups in separate continents as you seem to be doing.

The UK and America are vastly different in all respects from medical care, diet, exercise, unemployment, industry, even life expectancy is different. Looking for a small effect size in such messy data is impossible.

Ill leave it to the physicists to decide on the course of action, I'm just happy they are researching it.

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Anonymous Coward

So what

The average amount of human life-time lost to possible brain cancer is less than the amount of time possibly gained by being able to immediately call for an ambulance after traffic accidents. So even if they do cause cancer you are still better off, on average, carrying a mobile phone than not having one.

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manufacturers

It might inspire manufacturers to adjust the assembly process to put in some shielding or adjust signal power/frequency.

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Joke

Hmmm....

I'm more worried about women that keep in them in their bra's or men who keep them in their trouser pockets, neither of which seems to bode well for the future of the human race.

Maybe it's better we just leave them at home and pick up the messages when we get home? Oh no wait we used to have those wierd things plugged into the wall that did that, now what were they called? Never mind, apparently they never worked very well hence why we have to stay connected to the rest of the species 24/7!

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Coat

Oh noes

I best CALL my enemies and TEXT my friends!

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Question:

Does the positron emission tomography combine with the cell phone transmission to produce these results? What is the net effect? Does anyone know, or this yet another "chicken little" moment that we seem to be engulfed with in the stubbornly, willfully and purposefully ignorant NIMBY age that we seem to be living in?

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Grenade

How long has it been now?

10, 15, 20 years and all that the studies can find is there might be an effect and if there is an effect it's so small it's not worth worrying about. I think the stress of worrying about it would be more detrimental to your health!

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Grenade

Not at all surprising

... considering that 9 out of 10 people that _always_ have a mobile against their head appear to be brain dead.

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Terminator

In theory...

In theory, speculating wildly, yes, increased glucose metabolism might increase cancer risk. Higher metabolism is usually followed by generation of more reactive oxygen species, which are bad for our cells and their DNA, depending on circumstances. Now, I would guess that if there is any effect it is very small -- otherwise we might have noticed already, with hundreds of millions of cell phone users over the past couple of decades. But who knows. I myself don't care, because I use phones very little, just for the minimum necessary (i.e. talking on it for less than 10 minutes, once a week at the most). I detest the things.

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J 3
Pint

By the way...

You could say the same thing to campaign against hard physical or intellectual activities, heh...

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Alien

I would say...

...if you use the glucose, it means you are thinking harder.

This will help us to devise a cunning plan to salvage humanity from the triple assault of nuke-spew radioactivity, high-voltage overland lines and mobile phone irradiation.

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So, in other words...

it probably doesn't do jack.

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Coat

Facts are elitist

Cue cries of "Luddites", "scaremongers"...

It's very sad, what's happened to debate in our society. We've reached a point where you *can't* even talk about "evidence", without a significant part of the audience assuming that you're lobbying for one side or the other, and reflexively lining up to ridicule you. (See Para 2 of the above story.)

Scientific method is doing its best, but it's up against democracy and free speech.

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Happy

Cool!

Increased glucose consumption.

Maybe we can use it as a weight-loss method?

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G_C
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Small Study?

47 people? That's simply not enough... Your control group should be more than that never mind the whole study...

You'd need thousand of participants to create a matrix of data that would be of any consequential value...

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Boffin

Sadly...

47 people constitutes a medium sized study for most experiments involving humans. There are lots that are done with a total of 15-30 people. As long as you have at least double digit subject counts per experimental condition most researchers seem to be ok with it after some arcane statistics are invoked. Effectively, a small sample set just makes it harder to detect small differences between conditions. Usually large scale (>100 subjects) studies are usually reserved for late stage drug trials and other things where they need the full variation of human responces.

For this type of experiment, it's reasonable to expect that all people respond to the radiation from cell phones in about the same way at a basic level. The precise consequences of the initial changes may vary in some groups though (e.g. might have different long-term effects on children). This is also not a longitudinal study, which, yes, would require vastly greater subject counts. This study just showed the immediate effects of their cell phone on some nearby brain tissue.

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FAIL

You have to look at what was not in the report

The brain is an amazing object capable of reacting in suprising ways. One way it could react is to produce a change in behavior leading to a change in glucose consumption just because there's an object neraby. Getting ready to do something, perhaps. However the study did no blind tests for this and any number of other factors. It seems to me there's a case to be made of it being an answer in search of a question.

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Megaphone

Better to err on the side of recklessness

If long term studies are needed to find evidence that something is safe or not, then it MUST be safe. To say otherwise is a sign of giving in to scare-mongers!

ANGRY NERDS!!!

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Silver badge

I thought we already knew ...

... that mobiles cause a very slight increase in heating? Maybe just the warmth of the phone rather than the microwaves, but yes - a very slight increase in heating. Pretty much all metabolism goes faster (up to a point) with a small increase in temperature, it is just chemical reactions, after all. Glucose metabolism is probably simply the easiest one to see because it is such a major pathway for the vast majority of cells, certainly for neurons.

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Anonymous Coward

increased metabolic activity

Mobile phones emit energy. This is absorbed by human tissue. The energy is converted to heat (mostly). So work out the energy involved and then hold a mini-hot water bottle to the side of your head of equivalent energy and then measure the increase in metabolic activity - if they are similar then QED!

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mobiles make your brain run faster

actually sounds sorta good.

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Har,har,snigger

When I find my superpower brain section I'm going to velcro a mobile phone onto it and then I'll be able to jump over buildings and buy a winning lottery ticket - stuff like that! Yeeeeeha!

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Dead Vulture

Do the reg writers read their own paper anymore?

You guys (Dan Goodin) covered this over a month ago.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/02/23/cellphone_brain_study/

This new article doesn't seem to add anything that the last one didn't have either.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Do the reg writers read their own paper anymore?

My sincere apologies. Different people working in different countries, combined with a new writer (myself) who had not noticed the prior art. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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Why people dismiss the scaremongers

Because most of them have a lucrative sideline in flogging radiation shielding paint and over priced tin toi/radiation shieldsl or flogging their 'expert' witness services/papers to those gullible enough to pay up.

If they really were concerned about the human race rather than making a fast buck they would be speaking out freely and making raw figures avaiable.

Google Bad Science and have a read of that excellent website's views on the subject from a medical doctor.

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I wonder?

Do you live in a tent?

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