, Volume 265, Issue 9, pp 1011-1019
Date: 27 May 2008

Studying the effects of mobile phone use on the auditory system and the central nervous system: a review of the literature and future directions

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Abstract

The wide spread of mobile communication since the late 1980 s raises questions about the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) on the human body. Most studies have focused on the non-thermal effects of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). Low-energy EMFs seem to cause structural and functional changes in the cell membrane of different cell types, leading to abnormal cell response. Such changes within the central nervous system (CNS) and auditory system, which directly receive EMR during mobile phone use, are of particular interest. Various studies suggest that EMR directly affects neurons by reducing the neuronal reactivity, increasing the neural membrane conductivity and prolonging their refractory period. Furthermore, although it has been suggested that EMR is related with increased incidence of specific tumors and can interact with known carcinogenic agents, no conclusive evidence exists supporting its role in carcinogenesis. Therefore, no safe conclusions can be drawn regarding the potential harmful effects of mobile phone use. Experiments are underway by our laboratory to investigate possible effects of mobile phone use on the auditory system and the CNS. These along with other studies are expected to further clarify whether mobile phone use truly presents a health hazard.