January 07, 2010
Cell Phones Protect Against Alzheimer's Disease?
After years of reports aimed at looking for a causal relationship between cell phone use and brain cancer a new report finds that in mice genetically engineered to get Alzheimer's exposure to electromagnetic waves is protective.
Tampa, FL (Jan. 6, 2010) – The millions of people who spend hours every day on a cell phone may have a new excuse for yakking. A surprising new study in mice provides the first evidence that long-term exposure to electromagnetic waves associated with cell phone use may actually protect against, and even reverse, Alzheimer's disease. The study, led by University of South Florida researchers at the Florida Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC), was published today in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
"It surprised us to find that cell phone exposure, begun in early adulthood, protects the memory of mice otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer's symptoms," said lead author Gary Arendash, PhD, USF Research Professor at the Florida ADRC. "It was even more astonishing that the electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones actually reversed memory impairment in old Alzheimer's mice."
The researchers showed that exposing old Alzheimer's mice to electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones erased brain deposits of the harmful protein beta-amyloid, in addition to preventing the protein's build-up in younger Alzheimer's mice. The sticky brain plaques formed by the abnormal accumulation of beta amyloid are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. Most treatments against Alzheimer's try to target beta-amyloid.
I'm picturing a future where people are assigned to periodically swap in freshly charged batteries in cell phones strapped on to granny's head.
There is a scene in the movie "Thank you for smoking" in which the main character presents one discovery of the "Academy for Tobacco Studies" saying that smoking delays the onset of Alzheimer's. There are actual studies pointing in this direction.
I am a bit worried by the link found between mobile phone usage and Alzheimer's because it clearly shows that mobiles affect the organism but we're not yet aware of their long term consequences. Cancer provoked by asbestos appears only 20 years after exposure.
I also remember a recent study you posted which said that "People who get Alzheimer's Disease are less likely to get cancer and vice versa." Perhaps mobile phones reduce the risk of Alzheimer's while increasing the risk of cancer.
Long term studies are needed before drawing conclusions on the benefits or harmlessness of mobile phones.
It looks from the picture that the animals' entire bodies were uniformly exposed - so it may not replicate what a cell phone user experiences. Maybe we should be looking at Alzheimers incidence in people who live near cell towers instead? - in case, intensity or systemic effects are involved.
Cell phone radiation does upregulate heat shock protein (HSP) production in various tissues:
"Cell phone & the cell"
And, upregulating HSP production in the brain is being considered for Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and other neurological conditions:
"HSP70 Participates in the Neuroprotective Response to Intracellularly Expressed beta-Amyloid in Neurons"
"The Role of Heat Shock Proteins during Neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's Disease"
BTW, there is some (mostly anecdotal) evidence that transient heat exposure does decrease Alzheimers incidence.
There are several drugs that also increase brain HSP production
All of this is just speculation, though. If it really works, maybe the therapeutic window is narrow.
Nick Naylor: Gentlemen, practice these words in front of the mirror: Although we are constantly exploring the subject, currently there is no direct evidence that links cell phone usage to brain cancer.
I'd take results like this with a huge grain of salt.