European researchers are reporting study results that indicate mobile phone radiation
can be amplified by the shape of human cells, thus affecting body tissue.
Some scientists have suspected that low-frequency electromagnetic radiation from mobile
phones may cause health problems ranging from memory loss to brain cancer.
While theories linking mobile phone use and major health problems have not yet been
supported by scientific evidence, research has shown that mobile phone radiation can
cause subtle changes in cells that may be harmful.
Varying Cell Shapes
In the past, computers used to explore radiation effects caused by mobile phones have treated cells as simple spheres.
Researchers at the University Complutense in Madrid, Spain said they found that the intensity of electric fields induced in cells is heightened when considering that many human cells look more like cylinders than spheres.
The findings were reported in the journal Physics in Medicine and Biology, published
by the Institute of Physics.
The researchers calculated electric field intensity in a variety of shapes and found the
intensity for non-spherical cells was dependent on the angle of the cell in relation to
the radiation source.
Specifically, the electric field was amplified across the cell membrane -- an effect not taken into account by previous investigations.
Radiation was amplified more by ellipsoidal and cylindrical-shaped cells than by spherical cells.
"If we are going to gain an understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the biological effects caused by electromagnetic radiation, it is essential to consider the combined effects of shape and cell interaction," researcher Jose Luis Sebastian said.
On Friday, the British government announced a new US$10 million research program on the health implications of mobile phones. The UK has adopted a precautionary approach, advising people to keep calls short and take notice of Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) values when buying a phone.
Britain is the first country to embark on such a broad precautionary response to health concerns surrounding wireless phone use. Mobile phones sold in the United States are now beginning to carry notification of radiation levels.
Half of UK Uses 'Mobiles'
In Britain, where more than half the population uses mobile phones, mobile phone retailers and other outlets are being asked to voluntary distribute leaflets warning of risks.
More than 300 million people worldwide use cell phones, including 97 million in the U.S. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently ordered new studies after industry-sponsored test-tube research found cell phone signals might cause genetic damage in human blood cells, which may in turn spur cancer growth.