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Jan 8, 2010

Elderly and mobile phones

By Agence France-Presse, Updated: 1/7/2010

Mobile phone use may stave off, reverse Alzheimer's: study

Long suspected of causing brain tumors, mobile phones are now being eyed as key allies in the fight against Alzheimer's disease, US researchers said in a study.

Mobile phone use may stave off, reverse Alzheimer's: study
Long suspected of causing brain tumors, mobile phones are now being eyed as key allies in the fight against Alzheimer's disease, US researchers said in a study.

Researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) found, to their surprise, that 96 mice they zapped twice daily for an hour each time with electromagnetic waves similar to those generated by US mobile (cellular) phones benefited from the exposure.

Older mice saw deposits of beta-amyloid -- a protein fragment that accumulates in the brain of Alzheimer's sufferers to form the disease's signature plaques -- wiped out and their memories improved after long-term exposure to mobile phones, the study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease showed.

Young adult mice with no apparent signs of memory impairment were protected against Alzheimer's disease after several months' exposure to the phone waves, and the memories of normal mice with no genetic predisposition for Alzheimer's disease were boosted after exposure to the electromagnetic waves.

No one was more surprised by the results than the researchers themselves, who had embarked on the tests several years ago, convinced they would show "that the electromagnetic fields from a cell phone would be deleterious to Alzheimer's mice," lead author Gary Arendash, a USF professor, told AFP.

"When we got our initial results showing a beneficial effect, I thought, 'Give it a few more months and it will get bad for them.'

"It never got bad. We just kept getting these beneficial effects in both the Alzheimer's and normal mice," Arendash said.

It took several months of exposure before the benefits were seen in mice, and that would be the equivalent of many years in humans, Arendash said.

The mice in the study didn't wear tiny headsets or have scientists holding mobile phones up to their ears. Instead, their cages were arranged around an antenna that generated a mobile phone signal.

Each animal was housed the same distance from the antenna and exposed to electromagnetic waves equivalent to what is typically emitted by a mobile phone pressed up against a human head.

"Since we selected electromagnetic parameters that were identical to human cell phone use and tested mice in a task closely analogous to a human memory test, we believe our findings could have considerable relevance to humans," Arendash said.

But William Thies, chief medical and scientific officer of the Alzheimer's Association, said the study was "very preliminary" and warned against self-medicating by over-using a cell phone.

"No one should feel they are being protected from Alzheimer's, dementia, cognitive decline by using their cell phones based on this study," Thies said in a statement.

The study "needs to be replicated in animals before we begin to even consider trying it in people, as animal models of Alzheimer's and people with the disease are very different," he said.

Arenbach called the Alzheimers Association reaction disappointing and "so negative about a new research area of neuroscience that could offer real benefits against the disease in the future -- especially since a new therapeutic approach is desperately needed and long overdue."

The researchers concurred that more research is needed to find out, among other things, what the optimal "dosage" of electromagnetic waves would be -- the 918 megaHerz in US mobile phones, 800 megaHerz in European phones, or another frequency -- and how long effective "treatment" would have to be.

"If we can determine the best set of electromagnetic parameters to effectively prevent beta-amyloid aggregation and remove pre-existing beta amyloid deposits from the brain, this technology could be quickly translated to human benefit against Alzheimer's disease," said USF professor Chuanhai Cao.

The new therapy could also be used to treat one of the invisible injuries suffered by soldiers in war, Cao said.

"Since production and aggregation of beta-amyloid occurs in traumatic brain injury, particularly in soldiers during war, the therapeutic impact of our findings may extend beyond Alzheimer's disease," he said.

Around 36 million people will be living with dementia this year, according to international umbrella group Alzheimer's Disease International.

Pentagon officials have said that up to 360,000 US veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan may have suffered brain injuries.

To the latest development in The Straits Times, Friday, January 8, 2010, “Cellphone exposure found to help Alzheimer’s”

WASHINGTON: Talking on a mobile phone – long suspected of causing brain tumours – may protect against and even reverse Azheimer’s disease, a study on mice by US researchers showed this week.

After long-term exposure to electromagnetic waves such as those generated by mobile phones, mice genetically altered to develop Alzheimer’s performed as well on memory and thinking skill tests as healthy mice, the researchers wrote in the Journal Of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The results were a major surprise and open the possibility of developing a non-invasive, drug-free treatment for Alzheimer’s, said lead author Gary Arendash of athe University of South Florida.

He said he had expected cellphone exposure to increase the effects of dementia.

“Quite to the contrary, those mice were protected if the cellphone exposure was started in early adulthoods, Or if the cellphone exposure was started after they were already memory impaired, it reversed that impairment,” Professor Arendash said in a telephone interview.

His team exposed the mice to electromagnetic waves equivalent to those emitted by a cell-phone pressed against a human head for two hours daily over seven to nine months.

Older mice saw deposits of beta-amyloid – a protein fragment that accumulates in the brain of Alzheimer’s sufferers – wiped out and their memories improved.

But Dr William thies, chief medical and scientific officers of the Alzheimer’s Association, said the study was “very preliminary” and warned against self-medicating by over-using a mobile phone.

The study “needs to be replicated in animals before we begin to even consider trying it in people”, he said.

The researchers agreed that more research is needed to find out, among other things, what the optimal “dosage” of electromagnetic waves would be and how long effective “treatment” would have to be.

Despite decades of research, there are few effective treatments and no cure for Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. More than 35 million people globally will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia this year, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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2 Comments:

Blogger jenny said...

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January 11, 2010 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

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January 12, 2010 at 7:20 AM  

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