Cell Phones, Sunspots and Opening Closed Minds

Anyone who has ever heated up a frozen meal or boiled a cup of tea in a microwave oven would know instinctively that radio energy has the potential to change animal tissue.

Yet for the past two decades virtually the entire medical establishment has dismissed the possibility that sustained close exposure to radio energy — as when a cell phone is held up to the head for a long chat several times a day on a daily basis — can cause potentially harmful consequences to brain tissue. Their reasoning has been that microwaves are non-ionizing radiation, i.e. incapable of breaking apart atomic bonds so as to cause genetic damage and cell mutations. Many intelligent people, including scientists, have argued in vain that it doesn’t take ionizing radiation to force changes in biological processes and that such changes may have health consequences.

Acknowledging the tremendous difference in magnitude between the hundreds of watts of radio energy generated by a typical household microwave oven and the miliwatts of radio energy produced by the typical cell phone, concerned people have argued that tissue doesn’t have to be cooked to be changed, that even subtle stimulating or inhibiting effects on any of numerous cell processes could bring about changes, especially given the very low levels of electrical energy that constantly flows through our tissue.

Finally a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that a cell phone antenna held close to the head does indeed stimulate a 7 percent increase in brain glucose metabolism. The 2009 study conducted by a group that includes Asian American researchers (Gene-Jack Wang and Christopher Wong of the Dept. of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory) had 47 participants place cell phones on each side of their heads for 50-minute PET scans. The antenna on one of the cell phones were activated by sending a recorded message to the phone but the sound on the phones were turned off to avoid the confounding effect of possible stimulation by sound. After only a few minutes the part of the brain closest to the active antenna showed markedly higher glucose metabolism.

Of course many will dismiss this finding too but they can no longer say that minute levels of additional radio energy have no impact on human tissue. Some speculate that an artificial increase in brain glucose metabolism might raise the production of free radicals which can bring about the kinds of molecular damage similar to that produced by exposure to ionizing radiation. Or repeated radio wave stimulation might cause inflammation which has been linked to cancers, among other problems.

“The bottom line is that it adds to the concern that cellphone use could be a health hazard,” writes Dr. Henry C. Lai, a University of Washington bioengineering professor who has been expressing concern about the health consequences of cellphone use. “Everybody is worried about brain cancer and the jury is still out on that question. There are actually quite a lot of studies showing cellphone radiation associated with other events, like sleep disturbances. But people have not been paying a lot of attention to these other types of studies.”

My reason for raising this issue isn’t to argue that cell phones are dangerous. I personally don’t believe that moderate amounts of cell phone use will give me cancer or otherwise impair my cognitive faculties. My point is that a possibility once dismissed out of hand by the entire medical establishment has been proven to exist after all. Radio energy does have an effect on brain tissue.

This opens up more interesting areas of inquiry that have so far been ignored by the medical establishment. For example, peak sunspot activity — which follows 11-year cycles — has been linked to flu pandemics resulting from antigenic shifts in the Influenza-A virus. Other research has confirmed that flu infections increase during sunspot peaks by showing an increase in blood sedimentation rates. Sunspots are produced by powerful magnetic disturbances inside the sun which in turn produce an increase in radio energy (microwaves) hitting the surface of the earth which, apparently, stimulates viral activity as well as brain glucose metabolism.

Now that medical minds have been opened a bit by the Brookhaven study, we may start to learn about other ways in which human life is influenced by forces we’ve never seriously considered before, including those originating outside the earth. After all, the sun is the ultimate source of every bit of energy we use to power our hi-tech lifestyles, including those derived from fossil fuels.