Skin Rash? Maybe It’s Your Cell Phone

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If you have noticed an increase in skin rashes or allergic reactions to dust mites and pollen, your cell phone may be to blame. In what researchers called surprising results, a study indicates radiation emitted by mobile phones may increase allergic reactions.

Cell Phone Radiation?

Dr. Hajime Kimata from Unitika Hospital, Kyoto, Japan believes microwaves emitted by mobile handsets can ‘excite’ antigens – substances which cause allergic reactions – in the bloodstreams of people who already suffer from allergies. Dr. Kimata tested 52 people who had a history of allergies. They all watched a one-hour video — half of them while talking on their mobile phones and the other half with their phones turned off.

“When we did blood tests we found that the mobile phones had raised the levels of certain chemicals in the blood which provoke allergic reactions such as eczema, hay fever and asthma,” Kimata said. “We were surprised but we carried out a properly controlled study. One group of patients had their phones turned on and receiving for an hour while they watched a video. The second group watched the same video while having their phones turned off so they couldn’t receive calls. There was a significant increase in allergy levels which seemed to be linked to the use of mobile phones.”

Further testing indicated that the group using mobile phones also had greater skin reactions when exposed to house dust mites or pollen from cedar trees.

Previous testing of mobile phones has resulted in contradictory claims concerning their affect on the health of their users. In a British study two years ago, researchers could find no evidence that mobile phones cause any risks to health, but recommended caution in using handsets, especially for children.

Earlier this year, researchers in Sweden claimed that mobile phones could damage key brain cells and trigger the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Radiation from mobile phone handsets appeared to damage areas of the brain associated with learning, memory and movement in laboratory rats.

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Mobile phones damage key brain cells and could trigger the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease, a study suggests.
Researchers in Sweden have found that radiation from cell phone handsets damages areas of the brain associated with learning, memory and movement.

The study, which was carried out on rats, is the latest twist in the long-running debate over whether cell phones are a health risk.

Scientists have yet to find any conclusive evidence that cell phones damage the human brain. This latest study was carried out by Professor Leif Salford and colleagues at Lund University in Malmo.

Lab tests
They experimented on rats aged between 12 and 26 weeks. Their brains are regarded as being in the same stage of development as teenagers. The rats were exposed to two hours of radiation, equivalent to that emitted by cell phones.
Their brains were examined under a microscope 50 days later. The researchers found that rats which had been exposed to medium and high levels of radiation had an abundance of dead brain cells.

Professor Salford said there was good reason to believe that cell phones could have the same effect on humans. “A rat’s brain is very much the same as a human’s. They have the same blood-brain barrier and neurons,” he told BBC News Online. “We have good reason to believe that what happens in rat’s brains also happens in humans.”
Professor Salford said that there was also a chance exposure to cell phone radiation could trigger Alzheimer’s disease in some people. “What we are saying is those neurons that are already prone to Alzheimer’s disease may be stimulated earlier in life.

However, this theory is hypothetical. We do not have evidence yet that the human brain is affected in this way.”

The study is published in Environmental Health Perspectives – the journal of the US government’s National Health Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Writing in the journal, the researchers concluded: “We cannot exclude that after some decades of often daily use, a whole generation of users may suffer negative effects maybe already in their middle age.”

Further research

Professor Salford said cell phone users should not be alarmed by the findings. “This is a negative finding and yes it doesn’t seem to be particularly good.” But this is one observation, in one laboratory with a small number of animals. This study will have to be repeated before we get alarmed.

“Nevertheless, it is strong enough to merit more research into this area.” But he added: “Perhaps putting a cell phone repeatedly to your head is something that might not be good in the long term.” “Maybe we should think about restricting our use of cell phones.”

A UK-government funded study, published three years ago, found no evidence to suggest mobile phones affect health.
However, the report by the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones recommended that teenagers should only make essential calls and that these should be as short as possible.

A spokeswoman for the Mobile Operators Association dismissed this latest study. She said: “Independent scientific review bodies in the UK and around the world have consistently concluded that the weight of scientific evidence to date suggests that exposure to radio waves from cell phones operating within the international exposure guidelines do not cause health problems.”

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