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Can Mobile Phone Radiation Damage Your Brain?

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With mobile phone usage on the uptick and the introduction of faster mobile network technologies like 5G, fears about how the radiation that mobile phones emit could be affecting our general health and damaging our brains continue to rise. 

Many adverse effects of cellphones such as addiction and insomnia are now proven but how about cellphone radiation? Is this something you should really be worried about?

More specifically, can mobile phone radiation damage your brain? In short, yes, it has been accepted scientifically that mobile phone radiation can damage your brain by subtly reducing your ability to remember. However, to date, any other form of detrimental mobile phone radiation effects on the human brain have not been officially accepted.

Whether mobile phone radiation damages your brain remains a highly contentious issue. In view of this, because I am personally freaked out by how mobile radiation could be affecting us and because I love my brain, I decided to dig deep into the research to know for sure and if I need to protect myself.

In my deep dive, besides the accepted finding that cell phone radiation causes memory loss, I also found studies indicating that mobile phone radiation could also potentially cause brain cancer and damage of your brain to blood barrier.

Starting with memory loss, in the rest of this post, I expand more on each of these potential ways your brain could be getting damaged by cell phone radiation. Based on the evidence, I also give you my take on whether you should be worried about your brain because of radiation and what you can do if you are.

Mobile Phone Radiation And Memory Loss?

The only way mobile phone radiation has been found to convincingly damage your brain is by reducing your ability to remember things. This was revealed in a study by Swiss researchers on 700 young adults aged between 12 and 17.

The study was conducted over a 1 year period and entailed participants answering a questionnaire that asked them about their physical and psychological health and their mobile phone habits. Participants were also asked to complete a number of computerized cognitive tests.

Furthermore, for more reliable results, the researchers also used each participant’s phone usage data. They tracked each phone call the participants made, what network the calls were on and how long each participant was on a phone call over the study period. 

The study was limited in that all the participants were Swiss-based and it’s not certain if the results would change with geography. Nonetheless, the results showed that mobile phone radiation has a potentially adverse effect on the cognitive function of human beings.

The results also showed the worst affected parts of the brain are the ones most exposed to radiation while you use your phone. This study’s findings are widely accepted because of the rigorous methodology the researchers used and based on its findings, the conclusion is that mobile phone radiation damages your brain by decreasing the performance of your memory.

Mobile Phone Radiation And Brain Cancer

The link between cancer and mobile phone radiation is at the heart of the debate on whether mobile phone radiation damages your brain. I found that there is a lot of vested interest in this issue.

When you look at the research trend on this topic, it seems the telecommunication industry is working against claims linking cellphone radiation to any form of cancer including brain cancer in a similar way as the tobacco industry worked against claims that tobacco causes lung cancer.

I think what keeps the whole cancer-mobile phone radiation link a highly debated topic is that research findings to date are still ambiguous. 

Some researchers also claim, if you simply look at the increase in cell phone usage and compare it to the cancer rate it’s hard to conclude that cellphone radiation is causing any form of cancer as the boom in mobile phone usage over the past 20 years barely correlates with the rate at which any form of cancer incidence increased over the same period.

Accordingly, the official statement on whether mobile phone radiation causes brain cancer is that it does not. This official stance is further supported by an already proven scientific fact that unlike X-Ray waves which cause cancer, mobile phone radiation is non-ionizing and non-radioactive and accordingly cannot cause cancer.

The current scientific body of knowledge has led organizations such as the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and The European Commission Scientific Community to advise the public not to worry about getting cancer from mobile phone radiation exposure.

However, what makes me still worry about the cancer link to cellphones is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) stance. They say that since studies on this topic are inconclusive there needs to be more research done to know for sure mobile phones do not cause any form of cancer.

 Due to the uncertainty on this topic, the WHO even classified cellphone radiation as a possible carcinogen. So the possibility remains that radiation from your mobile phone could damage your brain by giving you brain cancer or tumors.

With the fear that this matter is unsettled, studies continue to be commissioned by international organizations on the topic of which the largest to date is called the COSMOSExit Disclaimer. This study entails following 290,000 cell phone users over the age of 18 for a period of 20 to 30 years. 

Keeping the WHO’s stance and continued studies in mind, I am of the opinion that we all remain at risk of some form of brain cancer from mobile phone radiation until science conclusively proves otherwise.

What’s All This About Cell Phone Radiation Damaging Your Blood-Brain Barrier?

The last alleged way I found in which mobile phone radiation could potentially damage your brain is by destroying your blood-brain barrier (BBB). “What the hell is this?”, you might be wondering.

The scientific definitions state, “the BBB is a part of your body formed by your brain endothelial cells which are lining your cerebral microvasculature. It plays an important part in protecting your brain from fluctuations in your plasma composition, and from circulating agents such as neurotransmitters and xenobiotics capable of disturbing your neural function.”

Simply put the BBB is a barrier between your body and brain that prevents blood that belongs in your body from seeping into your brain. If the BBB is breached, your brain stops to function properly and early studies on the impact of mobile phone radiation on your brain show that their radiation could breach your BBB.

All the studies I found on the potential impact on your BBB were carried out on rats. 

In one recent study rats were exposed to radiation for 28 days and it was found that their spatial memory was significantly impaired and that their BBB’s permeability was damaged.

In a 1975 study, a fluorescent dye was injected into the circulatory system of white lab rats and in a matter of minutes of sweeping microwave frequencies across their bodies the dye leaked into regions of the rats’ brains, showing that the radiation-damaged their BBB.

Now you might be wondering why this is not widely spoken about when it comes to mobile phone radiation damaging your brain. I found that studies on the impact on our BBB have been historically suppressed with no clear explanation. Have a look at this study that explains the suppression and I will leave you to draw conclusions as to why.

But conspiracy aside, the BBB damage issue has really been off the radar officially and with no official statement, we can only count on findings from existing independent research and at the moment independent research pretty much says beware of the impact of mobile phones on your brain.

Should You Be Worried For Your Brain?

One common thing all studies agree on is that mobile phone radiation activates your brain cells. However, disagreement sets in when it comes to whether this brain activity is detrimental or not to our brains. 

Despite the disagreements, based on the evidence I have gone through in this post, and also other evidence I have not touched on here, my take is you should be worried about your brain when it comes to cellphone radiation. Be concerned most especially for your memory performance.

I think the memory performance issue is also somehow linked to your BBB being breached. The point on which I am however unsure of when it comes to whether you should be bothered or not is the cancer story. 

As I have mentioned in this post and as you will find in various studies, as we speak safety standards still do not take into account any non-thermal radiation effects of cellphones. What’s also scary is that safe levels of exposure to cell phone radiation are also not known. 

Moreover, you are most likely going to see the negative effects on your brain over the long term as all studies on humans point out. In view of everything I have found and in view of whether you should be concerned, I have chosen to look at things in the following way:

If the WHO is neutral about this subject, and basically maintains the stance of guilty until proven innocent, then until the final verdict is reached I am not taking chances. All in all, I think it is a good idea to lean on the side of caution and moderation with exposure to mobile phone radiation when it comes to your brain and health in general.

How To Protect Your Brain From Mobile Phone Radiation Damage If You Are Worried?

If you have chosen the better safe than sorry route, the first thing to know is that unfortunately, you cannot completely protect yourself from mobile phone radiation. 

Also, remember or take note that you get similar damaging radiation from not just cellphones but also other sources around you including, routers, Bluetooth and pretty much all devices that can connect to the internet.

Accordingly, protecting yourself and your brain is really about minimizing your exposure. With 80% of your brain’s radiation absorption coming from holding your phone to your head, the first step to minimizing your exposure is keeping your cellphone away from your head.

For your memory’s sake, you should particularly keep your phone away from the right-hand side of your head as that's where the memory-related part of your brain sits and is most vulnerable to mobile phone radiation. As keeping your device at a distance really helps, try to use your phone on loudspeaker as much as possible when making phone calls.

If you prefer not to take calls on loudspeaker, you can look into getting a pair of Airtube headset which I talk more about here. Unlike normal wire headsets or Bluetooth headsets, Airtube headsets are EMF free and really give you that extra mile in minimizing your radiation exposure. 

You also want to avoid taking phone calls where you have poor network connectivity as in such instances your mobile phone emits higher levels of radiation to keep your call connected. Lastly, if you have a landline, use it instead of your cellphone for phone calls.

Those are the main immediate changes you can make when it comes to minimizing your radiation exposure from your cellphone. As for protecting your brain from radiation from various other sources, there are so many things you can do. To see my complete list of mobile phone radiation and EMF shielding approaches, click here.

About the Author


Jean is a research economist by profession and he runs Fresh Air Genie. He is enthusiastic about maintaining good air quality at home and on the go and he shares his knowledge about this here at Fresh Air Genie.

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