Phones with benefits

The reasons for skyrocketing cell phone usage last decade are obvious. It’s convenient. It’s handy in emergencies. It’s now valued for scheduling or checking a friend’s Facebook status.

But cell phones may do more for a person’s health than’you think.

A recent study by USF Health officials revealed how cell phone usage may reverse and, in some cases, prevent’Alzheimer’s disease.

The study tested 96 laboratory mice, and some were genetically altered to develop cognitive declines similar to those found in Alzheimer’s’disease. Some of the mice were’exposed to electromagnetic waves – like the ones released from cell phones – for two hours per day for seven to nine months. Other mice that were part of the control group’received no exposure to the electromagnetic waves.

According to the results, which were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s’Disease, the electromagnetic radiation helped protect mice from dementia, reversed dementia and’even improved memory in the mice without symptoms of’Alzheimer’s.

‘Our mouse study is the first to link clear cognitive benefits to both Alzheimer’s mice and normal mice with long-term electromagnetic wave exposure similar to that’emitted by cell phones,’ said Gary Arendash, research’professor at USF’s biology department and lead researcher on the USF Alzheimer’s study.

The study results were’unexpected and contradict a $30 million study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) last year that found a link between cell phone use and brain tumors.’Arendash disagrees with’WHO’s findings.

‘We found no evidence of brain abnormalities or evidence for any other damaging effects throughout the body in our mice given seven to nine months of EMF exposure,’ Arendash said.

In 2005, a’Swedish Research Council study linked brain tumors and cell phones, saying that using a cell phone for more than an hour per day over a 10-year period led to cancer.

In 2008, however, a St. Louis-based research group found no link between’cancer in human saliva and cell’phone usage.

These opposite findings could leave the general public confused about the possible effects cell phone usage has on someone’s health.’

Chuanhai Cao, assistant’professor for the USF College of Medicine, said he hasn’t seen concrete evidence suggesting cell phones cause brain tumors, despite the’studies by Swedish’researchers and WHO using humans in its study.

‘ ‘In our study, we found no evidence of brain tumors in mice,’ said Cao, who’co-authored the study with’Arendash.

The study was conducted in the Florida Alzheimer’s’Disease Research Center (ADRC) in conjunction with scientists and engineers from universities in China and’Japan.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.3 million people in the U.S. live with the disease.’ It’s the seventh-leading cause of death, and a person develops it every 70 seconds.

Arendash and the research team at USF Health said this kind of research is a major’focus of its laboratories.

‘We already have follow-up studies ongoing,’ Arendash said. ‘We’re definitely pur-
suing this.’