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May 25, 2011

Cell Phone Activation and Brain Glucose Metabolism

JAMA. 2011;305(20):2066-2068. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.669

To the Editor: The investigation by Dr Volkow and colleagues1 found evidence for increased brain metabolic activity due to cell phone radiation exposure. A number of aspects of the study call the results into question.

First, the physics of radiation used in the analysis is overly simplified. The authors assumed that the radiofrequency-modulated electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) deposited in the brain had an amplitude equal to the electric field of a near-field dipole in a vacuum. Cell phone antennas are often fractal instead of dipole, significant angular dependence is ignored, and the brain has complicated dielectric properties, which may lead to large differences from the assumed field and invalidate the claimed correlation. Electromagnetic fields in tissue have been studied extensively2 and a more realistic model is possible. The study also did not control for possible effects of simple thermal heating from the active cell phone.

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