7
Apr
2004

Mobile phones 'harm blood cells'

Mobile phone radiation may damage cells by increasing the forces they exert on each other, scientists have said.

The finding could be the key to claims that mobile phones cause cancer and other health problems.

Swedish physicists looked at the effect of electromagnetic radiation on red blood cells using a mathematical theory, New Scientist reported.

Experts cautioned that the finding was theoretical and said there was no evidence of a danger to health.

There have been suggestions that mobile phones can cause brain tumours and Alzheimer's disease, but research has been inconclusive.

The conventional view has been that radio waves could only damage a cell if they were energetic enough to break chemical bonds or "cook" tissue.

But radiation given off by mobile phone handsets is too weak to do this.

Bo Sernelius at Linkoping University, Sweden, looked at another possibility by modelling the properties of red blood cells.

Water molecules have poles of positive and negative charge which create forces between cells. These forces are normally extremely weak - about a billion-billionth of a newton.

Mathematical

The simplified mathematical model investigated the effect of electromagnetic radiation in the field of 850 megahertz - about the range used by mobile phones - on the blood cells.

The molecules all ended up with their poles aligned in the same direction. The forces between the cells unexpectedly jumped by about 11 orders of magnitude.

If confirmed by experiments, the results could give an explanation for tissue damage. Stronger attractive forces between cells might make them clump together or cause blood cells to contract, New Scientist said.

Katie Daniel, deputy editor of the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, said the finding was important.

"It highlights the idea that electromagnetic radiation might act on cells by affecting the attractive forces between them rather than simply causing heat damage to tissue," she said.

Camelia Gabriel, from King's College London, who is taking part in the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme funded by the Government, said the theory was feasible.

But she said the model was extremely simple and may not apply to larger numbers of cells.

"It needs to be tested experimentally," she said.

Dr Michael Clark at the National Radiological Protection Board said: "You can do anything with numbers. It is very interesting, but I can't get excited about it until somebody measures it."

Studies had not proved there was any danger to health from mobile phones, he said.

"There is no evidence of cancer or anything else. So it is so far, so good. But it is early days," said Dr Clark.


Story from BBC NEWS:
//news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/3605203.stm

Published: 2004/04/06 18:04:06 GMT

© BBC MMIV

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