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Mobile phones can make you senile

New research suggests a whole generation of teenagers face premature senility in the prime of their lives due to use of mobiles.

health and fitness Updated: Oct 13, 2003 11:46 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar (IANS)
Prasun Sonwalkar (IANS)

Using the mobile may make you senile prematurely, new research suggests.

A whole generation of teenagers face premature senility in the prime of their lives due to the use of mobile phones and new wireless technology.

The study warns specifically against "the intense use of mobile phones by youngsters". In recent years, there has been less research on the health effects of using mobile due to industry pressures.

However, the new study is likely to increase concern about the exposure to microwaves in Western countries.

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".

He is concerned that, as new wireless technology spreads, people may "drown in a sea of microwaves".

The study -- financed by the Swedish Council for Work Life Research, and published by the US government's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences -- breaks new ground by looking at how low levels of microwaves cause proteins to leak across the blood-brain barrier.

According to The Independent, previous concerns about mobile phones have concentrated on the possibility that the devices may heat the brain, or cause cancer.

But the heating is thought to be too minor to have an effect and hundreds of cancer studies have been inconclusive.

As a result, the US mobile phone industry has succeeded in cutting research into the health effects, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) is unlikely to continue its studies.

Mays Swicord, a scientific adviser to Motorola, told New Scientist magazine that Governments and industry should "stop wasting money" by looking for health damage.

But Salford and his team have spent 15 years investigating a 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.

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 might now do so when they were in their 30s.

First Published: Oct 13, 2003 11:00 IST