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How does EMF Affect the Brain?

July 20, 2020
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Introduction

Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Radiation is classified as being either ionizing or non-ionizing. Even though Radio Waves are classified under Non-ionizing EMF Radiation and perceived to be non-harmful – when Cell phones are placed against the head – vulnerable brain tissues are exposed to the potentially harmful effects of EMF.

How does EMF Radiation affect the Brain?

Cell phones emit radiofrequency radiation (radio waves), a form of non-ionizing radiation, from their antennas. These radio waves have sufficient energy that can pass through buildings and walls, and can be absorbed by the body when being exposed.

By placing the head close to the phone during cellular calls, the close proximity of EMF Cell Phone radiation affects the brain. Not only does the EMF exposure cause heating to the area of the body where the cell phone is held, but also could cause detrimental effects to the brain.

The Human Brain

The human brain is the command centre for the human nervous system. It receives signals from the body's sensory organs and outputs information to the muscles.

The brain controls our thoughts, memory and speech, movement of the arms and legs, and the function of many organs within our body.

Effects of EMF on brain activity

Brain Glucose Metabolism

Glucose (Sugar) is the major oxidative fuel for the brain. Rich in nerve cells and neurons – the brain is the most energy-demanding organ – using one-half of all the sugar energy in the body.

A study was conducted by Dr Nora Volkow from the National Institutes of Health, to evaluate cell phone usage on brain metabolism. It was concluded that "50-minute cell phone exposure was associated with increased brain glucose metabolism in the region closest to the antenna".

The 7% increase in metabolic activity during the cellular call provides evidence that the human brain is sensitive to the effects of EMF Radiation from acute cell phone exposures.

High metabolic activity in the brain leads to loss of energy for optimal brain function and is linked to poor attention and cognitive function. Furthermore, the human brain’s evident sensitivity to the phone’s electromagnetic waves does raise further questions.

Blood-Brain Barrier

Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) has a function to protect against circulating toxins or pathogens that could cause brain infections, while at the same time allowing vital nutrients to reach the brain, and help maintain relatively constant levels of hormones, nutrients and water in the brain.

Radiowaves from Cell Phone Radiation combined with the heat generated when placed against the head affects brain activity by disrupting the blood-brain barrier.

Exposure to levels of EMF radiowaves that increase brain temperature by more than 1 °C can increase the permeability of the BBB.

A defective Blood-Brain Barrier allows white blood cells to infiltrate the brain and attack the functions of neurons sending signals from one brain cell to another.

Dysfunction of the Blood-Brain-Barrier is associated with Alzheimer's disease, anxiety and depression, Brain abscess, Meningitis, and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).


Melatonin – The Sleep Hormone

Hormones relay important messages within the brain, and between the brain and body. Melatonin is a natural hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, which plays a significant role in physiological functions and regulates the body's sleep-wake cycle.

There is evidence that melatonin suppresses the development of certain tumours and has anticancer efficacy. Melatonin is preventive against oxidation disorders of nerve cells, detoxifies carcinogens, protects and repairs cellular DNA damage.

A study found that even non-ionizing EMF radiation that is extremely low-frequency (ELF) – such as power lines, electrical wiring, and basic household appliances – could cause cancer through other mechanisms, such as reducing the levels of the hormone melatonin.

Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) has significant disruption on Pineal Melatonin levels by sensing EMF as a light source and subsequently decreases the melatonin production of the human body.

Apart from the blue light emitted by electronic screens, EMF emitted from Cell Phones in the form of radio waves act as a suppressor of melatonin production.


Brain Tumour

Exposure to EMF radiation from Cell Phones usage affects brain activity, while long-term exposure could lead to other adverse effects such as abnormal growth of tissue in the brain.

A brain tumour is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in the brain that can disrupt proper brain function. Some brain tumours are benign (noncancerous), while some are malignant (cancerous).

Doctors identified the two main risk factors for brain tumour: exposure to radiation and family history of brain tumours. 

The brain is the main target organ for radiation exposure during cell phone usage. Sweden researchers conducted a 10-year study on finding the correlation between phone exposure and brain tumours.

Coordinating with Sweden's Cancer Registries and the National Population Registry to conduct the research, it was found that all types of phone (cordless, analogue, digital, and cell phone) increases the risk of acoustic neuroma in the brain.

In the series of studies on tumour risk associated with the use of mobile or cordless telephones, it is found that there was an increased risk for brain tumours, mainly acoustic neuroma and malignant brain tumours.

Furthermore, the use of cell phones for more than 10 years gives a consistent pattern of an increased risk for acoustic neuroma and glioma.

Acoustic Neuromas

Acoustic Neuromas are benign brain tumours that develop on the nerves that control balance and hearing leading from the inner ear to the brain. A slow-growing benign tumour, Acoustic Neuromas may take up to 5 years from the first symptom to diagnosis.

A News Article from the Guardian reported that an Italian court has ruled that prolonged use of mobile phones can cause head tumours despite scientists overwhelmingly agreeing there is no evidence to back this up.

Roberto Romeo, who worked for Telecom Italia, used his phone for four to five hours a day. As a result, he developed Acoustic Neuroma – a benign but disabling tumour.

The court decision was based on studies provided by two court-appointed doctors that showed an increased risk of head tumours among those who talked on their phones for 30 minutes a day over a 10-year period.

Studies found that there is an increased risk of acoustic neuroma for mobile phone use of at least 10 years duration. The observed association was strongest for tumours on the same side of the head as the phone was normally used.

Glioma

Glioma tumour begins in the brain or spinal cord and is considered malignant (dangerous). A Glioma can affect brain function and be life-threatening depending on its location and rate of growth.

CERENAT was a case-control study conducted across four areas of France between 2004 and 2006, which looked at the association between cell phone use and tumours of the brain. It was reported that there was an increased risk of gliomas with an increase in cumulative lifetime call duration – the longer you use cell phones, the higher risk of developing brain tumours.

A meta-analysis on Mobile phones and head tumours gather studies on cell phone users of more than 10 years. Significant data shows an almost doubling of the risk of head tumours induced by long-term cell phone use.

Among the literature data examined is a study conducted by Dr Lennart Hardell, an oncologist from University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden. Hardell concludes that the odds of developing glioma, an often deadly brain cancer, rose with years and hours of use, and the risk is three times higher after 25 years of use. Children may be most vulnerable to cell phone emissions as they have smaller heads, thinner skulls, and higher brain conductivity which absorbs more radiofrequency electromagnetic fields

A systematic review from China has revealed an association of the increased risk of Gliomas among long-term Cell Phone users of more than 10 years. As tumours may take up to years to manifest, long term cell phone users are exposed to the risk.


Conclusion

Do Cell Phone Cause Brain Cancer? As this topic is a serious issue, many scientists are still researching and debating to find a correlation.

The mobile technology connects the world more than ever and the telecommunication industry race against each other to provide faster wireless data transmissions but unfortunately, there are also risks of inevitable exposure to EMF radiation to the human brain that comes along with technology.  Continued research is needed to find a solution on how these possible effects can be neutralized or at least reduced.

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