[ RadSafe ] Alzheimer's Mice Improved by Cell Phone Radiation

Susan Gawarecki loc at icx.net
Thu Jan 7 15:33:03 CST 2010

Here's a new twist on exposure to electromagnetic radiation from cell 

--Susan Gawarecki

Alzheimer's Mice Improved by Cell Phone Radiation
By Michael Smith, North American Correspondent, MedPage Today
Published: January 06, 2010

Inveterate cell-phone addicts may feel that the devices help them to 
work smarter and -- surprisingly -- they may be right.

If they're mice, that is.

In mice prone to an animal form of Alzheimer's disease, long-term 
exposure to electromagnetic radiation typical of cell phones slowed and 
reversed the course of the illness, according to Gary Arendash, PhD, of 
the University of South Florida in Tampa, and colleagues.

A similar exposure in normal mice -- for two hours a day over seven to 
nine months -- improved their cognitive abilities compared with 
controls, Arendash and colleagues said in the January issue of the 
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, which is the research journal of the 
Alzheimer's Association.

The findings provide "striking evidence for both protective and 
disease-reversing effects" of long-term exposure to radiation at cell 
phone levels, Arendash and colleagues said.

But outside experts cautioned that the science in the study -- while 
mainstream -- is still very early.

"You just have to remember where you are in the mainstream -- right up 
at the head of it," said Bill Thies, PhD, the chief medical and science 
officer of the Alzheimer's Association.

Thies told MedPage Today that the research needs to be repeated and 
confirmed, and various aspects of it need more study, before it's ready 
for prime time.

"This is no call for anyone to self-medicate," Thies said.

And other reactions to the study ranged from "interesting" to "nonsense."

Neurologist Alan Lerner, MD, of Case Western Reserve University in 
Cleveland, said in an e-mail the researchers took an "an innovative 
approach to modulating Alzheimer's disease models in mice."

But he said it's too early to say whether the findings have any 
relevance to humans.

Roger Brumback, MD, of Creighton University in Omaha, cautioned that 
even science published in reputable journals can turn out to be wrong, 
adding "extreme caution is necessary until this outcome has been 
confirmed independently in other laboratories."

As well, he said in an e-mail, even if the science is correct, "humans 
are not just big mice, and we must always be cautious in extrapolating 
results from mice to man."

Finally, Zaven Khachaturian, PhD, editor of Alzheimer's & Dementia, said 
bluntly that "this is nonsense."

In an e-mail, Khachaturian said, "It is a mice study and there are 
number of other secondary factors [other than radio signals from cell 
phones] that could account for the results."

The Arendash and colleagues said in the journal they had expected to 
find cognitive function worsened in the mice exposed to radiation, 
likely as a result of oxidative stress in the brain.

Instead, "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," Arendash said in a statement.

"It was even more astonishing that the electromagnetic waves generated 
by cell phones actually reversed memory impairment in old Alzheimer's 
mice," he said.

The report comes almost exactly two years after researchers at the 
University of Sunderland, in England, said they had shown that infrared 
light could improve cognition in mice.

That report led to the development of the so-called "Alzheimer's 
helmet," aimed at slowing or reversing the disease in humans. Whether 
that works has not been shown yet.

For this study, the researchers studied transgenic mice that 
progressively lose cognitive function at the same time as they develop 
amyloid plaques in their brains, similar to those seen in human 
Alzheimer's patients.

On the other hand, the animals don't develop other hallmarks of the 
human disease, such as loss of neurons and the development of 
neurofibrillary tangles, the researchers noted.

Mice -- both transgenic and normal type littermates -- were exposed to 
electromagnetic waves at cell phone levels of 918 megaHertz with a 
specific energy absorption rate of 0.25 watts per kilogram. The exposure 
lasted for an hour twice a day.

Transgenic and normal type mice that weren't exposed to the radiation 
acted as controls. Cognitive function was measured using a so-called 
radial arm water maze, a standard method of testing memory in mice.

The researchers used the maze to generate a test that they said was 
functionally equivalent to tests used in humans that can distinguish 
between Alzheimer's, mild cognitive impairment, and normal cognition.

They conducted two main experiments, one in adolescent mice and one in 
older animals.

In the first, radiation exposure began at two months, before the 
transgenic animals had begun to lose cognitive function, and maze tests 
at 2.5 months showed no difference in function between the groups of 

Subsequent tests -- at four months and seven months -- showed the 
unexposed transgenic mice losing cognitive function, while the normal 
animals and the exposed transgenic mice did not.

The difference in cognitive ability between the exposed and unexposed 
transgenic animals at the last test was significant at P<0.01, while 
there was no difference between the other groups, the researchers said.

Interestingly, in this experiment, the exposed normal mice also did 
significantly better (at P<0.05) than all other groups on a so-called 
"Y-maze alternation test," which measures basic memory function, the 
researchers reported.

In the second experiment, the researchers waited to start radiation 
exposure until the age of five months, when the transgenic animals had 
started to show signs of cognitive decline.

Testing two and five months later showed no evidence of benefit or harm, 
the researchers said, but after eight months of exposure to radiation, 
the transgenic mice had recovered some cognitive function and were 
significantly better than transgenic controls (at P<0.05).

In the transgenic animals, radiation exposure was also associated with 
changes in the deposition of amyloid in the brain, including an increase 
in the more soluble form of the protein, the researchers said.

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