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Watch it, cellphone users

New Delhi, Feb 10: If more evidence bears this out, the findings of this research study could ring alarm bells for the burgeoning population of mobile phone users.

A research study in Sweden warns that mobile phones damage brain cells and can trigger an early onset of Alzheimer’s disease which causes both senile and pre-senile dementia.

The study has been published in Environmental Health Perspectives — a journal published by the US government’s National Institute of Health Perspectives.

Professor Leif Salford of Lund University — the key scientist in the research — experimented on rats aged between 12 and 26 weeks.

“Their brains are regarded to be in the same stage of development as teenagers,” says the study.

The rats were exposed to two-hours of radiation, equivalent to that emitted by mobile phones. Fifty days later researchers examined their brains and found that the rats exposed to medium and high levels of radiation had an “abundance” of dead brain cells.

“A rat’s brain is very much the same as a human’s. We have the same blood brain barrier and neurons. We have good reason to believe what happens in rat’s brains also happens in humans,” underlines Prof. Salford. He pointed out this could also mean that mobile phone users could be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.

“What we are saying is that neurons already prone to Alzheimer’s disease may be stimulated earlier in life,” said Prof. Salford. According to neurosurgeons in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Alzheimer’s disease can also happen to the young and not just the old.

The World Health Organisation along with US’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, have said till now that there has been no conclusive evidence to prove a connection between low levels of radiation emitted by mobile phones and health hazards.

The organisations, however, do not rule out that such a possibility exists.

“WHO, however, does not rule out such a co-relation between mobile phones and health hazards. All that it says is till now there has been little proof to establish it. But there is room for further exploration in this direction,” says a WHO official.

Since 1996, the WHO has been monitoring 300 studies on the subject. The FDA has been a leading participant in the WHO’s projects.

“Long-term studies on humans are required before we can come to any conclusion. Several years could pass between the time a person is exposed and the time the symptoms develop,” says the FDA.

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