(NaturalHealth365) Over the past 20 years, the capabilities of information and communication technologies have exploded. But, in addition to bringing unprecedented access to information and data, these systems have also brought about massive increases in our exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (or RF-EMF). Now, a new study examining the effects of cell phone RF-EMF radiation on adolescent neurocognitive processes suggests that this exposure can pose a risk to the most essential data retrieval system of all – the human memory.
In a groundbreaking new Swiss study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers reported potential adverse effects on cognitive function associated with radiation from wireless devices and cell phones. Let’s take a closer look at the eye-opening results of this study.
Study used objective data to find that cell phone radiation affects memory
To conduct the HERMES study (an acronym for the Health Effects Related to Mobile phone usE in adolescentS), scientists examined the relationship between RF-EMF exposure and the development of memory performance in almost 700 participants aged 12 to 17 over the course of one year.
The young volunteers were public school students in both urban and rural areas of Swiss-German-speaking Switzerland.
Although RF-EMF radiation can issue from many sources – including laptops, WiFi networks, “smart” meters and power lines – cell phone radiation is particularly worrisome to natural health experts because phones are used in close proximity to the head and brain.
The researchers noted that the study was unique in that it employed objectively-collected cell phone user data – rather than relying on self-reported cell phone use. It also represents the world’s first research to assess cumulative RF-EMF brain dose in adolescents.
In addition to having their cell phone use monitored, the participants filled out questionnaires concerning their cell phone and media usage – as well as physical and mental health factors.
After administering a series of computerized cognitive tests, the researchers arrived at their bombshell conclusion – reporting that RF-EMF radiation was associated with a significant decrease in figural memory.
Specifically: “cumulative RF-EMF brain exposure from cell phone use consisting of over a year may have a negative effect on the development of figural memory performance in adolescents.”
RF-EMF radiation linked to a 22 percent decrease in figural memory score
Figural memory is a type of visual memory involved with images, shapes and association. To measure figural memory, participants first memorized pairs of abstract figures – then were asked to choose the correct counterpart when only one was shown.
The team noted that the changes to figural memory scores were associated with a higher cumulative brain dose of EMFs – reported as 953 megajoules per kilogram per day.
Memory functions are particularly important in adolescents because proper encoding, processing and retrieval of information are all required for effective learning.
Upon further analysis, the team discovered a disturbing connection.
Negative changes to figural memory – a right-brain function – were more pronounced in adolescents who used their cell phones on the right side of their head. (Verbal and auditory functions, on the other hand, are associated more with the left hemisphere of the brain).
Study leader Martin Roosli, Ph.D., Head of Environmental Exposures and Health at Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, commented “This may suggest that indeed RF-EMF absorbed by the brain is responsible for the observed associations.”
Earlier studies have raised concerns, including “the Google effect”
The new research confirms the results of an earlier report published in 2015 in the scientific journal Environmental International.
Other studies have shown evidence of RF-EMF radiation’s adverse effects on the brain. In a 2017 review published in Frontiers in Psychology, the authors cited a study in which participants were discovered to be less efficient at remembering newly-learned information when they were told that a computer was “saving” the information for them.
(Aptly, the researchers deemed the phenomenon “The Google Effect”).
Additional studies have suggested that individuals who are heavy users of smartphones – and particularly, those who use the internet search engines on their phones – exhibit “less analytical” cognitive styles and poorer performance on cognitive tests.
Previous studies have consistently observed alterations in EEGs during sleep in participants exposed to cell phone radiation before bedtime. Disturbed sleep impairs memory consolidation in relation to abstract tasks involving higher brain function.
Somewhat reassuringly, the team found that sending texts, gaming, browsing the internet and using social media caused only marginal RF-EMF exposure in the brain – and these activities weren’t associated with the development of memory performance.
RF-EMF radiation linked to a host of other illnesses, including cancer
A $25 million National Toxicology Project study revealed an increased risk of cancer from magnetic field radiation – and found that the raised risk mirrored the exact cancer cell types found in previous human studies.
The World Health Organization classifies RF-EMF radiation as a Class B “possible carcinogen,” in the same category as such toxins as DDT and lead.
Magnetic field radiation has also been linked to impaired fertility, increased antibiotic resistance, increased odds of miscarriage, heart palpitations, insomnia, headaches, dizziness and “brain fog.”
The team pointed out that their findings don’t prove that RF-EMF radiation directly caused the neurocognitive effects. But the association is undoubtedly troubling – and bears further watching.
In the meantime, here’s something that we know for certain: personal exposure to EMFs is directly affected by call duration, distance of the device from the body, and the network used for calling.
In light of this, Dr. Roosli said that adolescents (as well as adults) can minimize potential risks to the brain by using speaker phone or hands-free headsets – particularly at times when network quality is low (which causes the cell phone to function at maximum power).
Other techniques to reduce exposure including texting rather than calling, keeping conversations brief and not carrying a cell phone close to your body.
Better yet, bypass the cell phone for an old-fashioned landline – whenever possible.
Sources for this article include:
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