Well, it’s official. (Warning-although the following information may scare you, read on, solutions aren’t out of reach!) 🙂 I’ve written on the dangers of cell phones before, along with protective measures to take regarding them (that don’t include becoming an electrical hermit and giving up your added appendage). Now, there is enough evidence to convince the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to issue a warning related to the use of cell phones and a possible increased risk for brain cancer. According to recent article by WebMD:

The expert panel that evaluates cancer risks today said that cell phones might possibly cause brain cancer. The announcement comes from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Like the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society relies on IARC for evaluation of cancer risks.

“After reviewing all the evidence available, the IARC working group classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans,” panel chairman Jonathan Samet, MD, chair of preventive medicine at the USC Keck School of Medicine, said at a news teleconference. “We reached this conclusion based on a review of human evidence showing increased risk of glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, in association with wireless phone use.”

The scientific evidence on the damages of EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) to health caused the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly to issue a warning on it, even prior to the warning of the IARC. Furthermore, the Council  made specific recommendations to protect the children, those who may be at greatest risk, from EMF radiation in schools.  According to the Assembly’s summary:

The potential health effects of the very low frequency of electromagnetic fields surrounding power lines and electrical devices are the subject of ongoing research and a significant amount of public debate. While electrical and electromagnetic fields in certain frequency bands have fully beneficial effects which are applied in medicine, other non-ionizing frequencies, be they sourced from extremely low frequencies, power lines or certain high frequency waves used in the fields of radar, telecommunications and mobile telephony, appear to have more or less potentially harmful, non-thermal, biological effects on plants, insects and animals, as well as the human body when exposed to levels that are below the official threshold values. One must respect the precautionary principle and revise the current threshold values; waiting for high levels of scientific and clinical proof can lead to very high health and economic costs, as was the case in the past with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco. 

This news doesn’t come as a shock to health care practitioners, especially those who have followed this issue and have  treated those with EMF sensitivity. Still, even though evidence abounded with the health detriments of cell phones, this is the first time the IARC has stepped in to warn the pubic. For example, in February researchers demonstrated how cell phones affect the brain’s metabolism of glucose. Although the cell industry deemed cell phones as still safe, arguing that brain glucose didn’t have anything to do with cancer, my previous blog and the latest advice from the IARC would make one question this assertion. The study was summarized by WebMD :

Volkow and colleagues placed cell phones on the left and right ears of 47 healthy volunteers and then performed the PET scans. They measured the metabolism of glucose in the brain twice, once with the right cell phone activated but the sound muted for 50 minutes (the ”on” condition) and once with both cell phones deactivated (the “off” condition).

When they looked at overall brain metabolism and compared PET scans, they did not find a difference between the “on” and “off” conditions. But they did find regional effects — the 7% boost in the area closest to the antenna when the phone was on.

That area includes the orbitofrontal cortex and temporal pole, involved with such functions as memory and other cognitive skills.

That amount of increase in glucose metabolism, Volkow says, is within the range of increase seen when someone does a cognitive task, such as moving their finger. “It’s not a dramatic effect,” she tells WebMD. Yet the differences are clear, she says.

The study is believed to be the first to look at brain metabolism in response to cell phone exposure. The next question, Volkow says, is whether there are long-term effects.

Another study also demonstrated how the effects of electrical devices affect our physiology, specifically through its circadian rhyme disruptions. The study found that these abnormal wake and sleep cycles affected not only brain health but affected weight, metabolism, and emotions:

Housing in these conditions results in accelerated weight gain and obesity, as well as changes in metabolic hormones. In the brain, circadian-disrupted mice exhibit a loss of dendritic length and decreased complexity of neurons in the prelimbic prefrontal cortex, a brain region important in executive function and emotional control. Disrupted animals show decreases in cognitive flexibility and changes in emotionality consistent with the changes seen in neural architecture. How our findings translate to humans living and working in chronic circadian disruption is unknown, but we believe that this model can provide a foundation to understand how environmental disruption of circadian rhythms impacts the brain, behavior, and physiology.

So, has this information convinced you to turn off your computer or cell, at least for a little while? Doing this will not only will you be saving your brain cells from added glucose, but according to a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, those who participated in culture experiences had overall higher satisfaction of life:

This population-based study suggests gender-dependent associations between cultural participation and perceived health, anxiety, depression and satisfaction with life. The results support hypotheses on the effect of cultural activities in health promotion and healthcare, but further longitudinal and experimental studies are warranted to establish a reliable cause–effect relationship.

Besides enjoying the arts, another simple and protective brain habit would be to eat more protein in the AM . This will not only help with weight control, but will also balance the insulin-cancer connection from a diet high in carbohydrates and sugar.  In fact, in one recent study reported that teenagers who ate a high protein breakfast verses those who skipped their morning munchies, were better able to modulate their appetite throughout the day.

Dr. Amen, Brain doctor offers some advice on a good quality protein breakfast:

  • Enjoy a healthy omelet with eggs, turkey and avocado
  • Have a smoothie prepared with pea, rice, or whey protein
  • http://www.theamensolution.com/recipe.aspx?answer=view_recipe&recipe_key=h5fkfegb0r
  • High protein “dinner leftovers” can work
  • Sugar free yogurt or cottage cheese mixed with fresh fruit and nuts is a nice way to start the day.
  • High protein, low sugar cereals and breads can work if you are not gluten sensitive. Nut butter spread is better than jelly or honey.
  • Spread peanut or almond butter on an apple or banana.
  • Enjoy a small palm full of healthy nuts (walnuts and almonds are great choices).

Now, I’d like to hear your thoughts!

What do you think about the glucose-brain connection?

 Do you think using your cell phone increases your risk of brain cancer?

Comment on my site or at www.saratoga.com/living-well


WebMD. June 2, 2011. http://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20110531/expert-panel-cell-phones-might-cause-brain-cancer?ecd=wnl_nal_060111

Mercola, J. European leaders don’t want cell phones and wifi in schools. June 2, 2011. http://emf.mercola.com/sites/emf/archive/2011/06/02/european-leaders-call-for-ban-of-cell-phones-and-wifi-in-schools.aspx

European Parliament. The potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment. Doc. 12608 Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs. Jean HUSS, Luxembourg, Socialist Group. May 6 2011. http://assembly.coe.int/main.asp?Link=/documents/workingdocs/doc11/edoc12608.htm

WebMD. Kathleen Doheny. Cell Phones Affect Brain, but Does It Matter? Study Shows Rise in Glucose Metabolism in Brain; Long-Term Effect Is Unlcear. February 22, 2011. http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20110222/cell-phones-affect-brain-but-does-it-matter?ecd=wnl_nal_060111

Karatsoreos IN, Bhagat S, Bloss EB, Morrison JH, McEwen BS. Disruption of circadian clocks has ramifications for metabolism, brain, and behavior. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jan 25;108(4):1657-62. Epub 2011 Jan 10. PMID: 21220317

Koenraad Cuypers, Steinar Krokstad, Turid Lingaas Holmen, Margunn Skjei Knudtsen, Lars Olov Bygren, Jostein Holmen. Patterns of receptive and creative cultural activities and their association with perceived health, anxiety, depression and satisfaction with life among adults: the HUNT study, Norway. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2011; DOI: 10.1136/jech.2010.113571

Top of Form

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) (2011, May 24). Theater-goers, volunteers take heart: Cultural activities are good for your health, Norwegian study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2011/05/110523201050.htm

References: Heather J. Leidy, Rebecca J. Lepping, Cary R. Savage, Corey T. Harris. Neural Responses to Visual Food Stimuli After a Normal vs. Higher Protein Breakfast in Breakfast-Skipping Teens: A Pilot fMRI Study. Obesity, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/oby.2011.108

University of Missouri-Columbia (2011, May 19). Eat a protein-rich breakfast to reduce food cravings, prevent overeating later, researcher finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2011/05/110519113024.htm

Amen, D. Eat Breakfast, Reduce Cravings. May 31, 2011.