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Monday, September 15, 2003


Dangers of Handphones

Previously it was thought that overuse of handphones would lead to overheating of the brain and maybe cause brain cancer. Many people and handphone makers sigh with relief when research reported the heating was too minor to have an effect and hundreds of cancer studies were inconclusive.
A study - financed by the Swedish Council for Work Life Research, and published by the US government's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) - breaks new ground by looking at how low levels of microwaves cause proteins to leak across the blood-brain barrier.
Professor Leif Salford, who headed the research at Sweden's prestigious Lund University, says "the voluntary exposure of the brain to microwaves from hand-held mobile phones" is "the largest human biological experiment ever". And he is concerned that, as new wireless technology spreads, people may "drown in a sea of microwaves".
Professor Salford and his team have spent 15 years investigating this different threat. Their previous studies proved radiation could open the blood-brain barrier, allowing a protein called albumin to pass into the brain. Their latest work goes a step further, by showing the process is linked to serious brain damage. Professor Salford said the long-term effects were not proven, and that it was possible the neurons would repair themselves in time. But, he said, neurons that would normally not become "senile" until people reached their 60s may now do so when they were in their 30s. This could cause a "whole generation" of today's teenagers to go senile in the prime of their lives. The older handphone users have less to worry but for those starting very young especially those of primary schooling age, there may need to be a rethink whether they should be using these potential "senility" causing devices.

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