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Mice exposed to cell phone waves protected from Alzheimer's disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A study shows old mice that would otherwise develop Alzheimer's disease were protected from the disease by early exposure to cell phone waves. Scientists found that electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones erased beta-amyloid plaque in mice, reversing the inevitability of Alzheimer's disease.

Treatment for Alzheimer’s disease is targeted toward eliminating or reducing beta-amyloid plaque buildup in the brain. Mild dementia that progressively worsens is associated with the disease that affects approximately 5.3 million Americans and is linked to increased mortality. The new research, led by University of South Florida researchers at the Florida Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC), also found that cell phone waves prevented the buildup of beta-amyloid plaque in the mice studied and protected memory. Normal mice even improved memory.

Lead author Gary Arendash, PhD, USF Research Professor at the Florida ADRC says, "It was even more astonishing that the electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones actually reversed memory impairment in old Alzheimer's mice.” Cell phone exposure protected “the memory of mice otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer's symptoms."

The mice used in the study were genetically programmed to develop memory problems and beta-amyloid plaques found in the brain of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Scientists studied 96 mice in a controlled study that compared normal mice to the genetically engineered mice, arranging the cages around an antenna that gave off cell phone signals. The positioning of the cages simulated the exposure to a human with a cell phone against the head. Both groups of mice were exposed to cell phone waves for two 1-hour periods daily for seven to nine months.

Alzheimer’s disease in mice afflicted with the condition disappeared after months of being exposed to cell phone signals. Mice expected to develop the Alzheimer’s did not progress to memory loss, performing as well as older mice without dementia. After being exposed to cell phone waves for months, normal mice developed better than average better memory. In mice the transition took months - in humans cell phone waves would take years to see the same results from phone-level electromagnetic exposure.

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“Since we selected electromagnetic parameters that were identical to human cell phone use and tested mice in a task closely analogous to a human memory test, we believe our findings could have considerable relevance to humans,” Arendash said.

The scientists surmise that electromagnetic field exposure could also prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease in humans.They are exploring different levels of frequency and strength to find out if more rapid benefits are possible.

Co-author Chuanhai Cao, PhD says "If we can determine the best set of electromagnetic parameters to effectively prevent beta-amyloid aggregation and remove pre-existing beta amyloid deposits from the brain, this technology could be quickly translated to human benefit against AD.”. Cao adds, “Since production and aggregation of β-amyloid occurs in traumatic brain injury, particularly in soldiers during war, the therapeutic impact of our findings may extend beyond Alzheimer's disease."

The researchers noted an increase in brain temperature in the mice during exposure to cell phone signals in the mice with Alzheimer’s disease, and only after being exposed to electromagnetic cell phone waves for months. The rise in temperature seems to have played a role in the removal of beta-amyloid plaque by facilitating release of newly formed plaque. Memory improvements in normal mice were thought to be linked to increased blood flow energy metabolism in the brain. "It will take some time to determine the exact mechanisms involved in these beneficial memory effects," Arendash said.

Despite concerns about cell phones causing brain cancer, the researchers found no evidence of abnormal tissue growth in the mice autopsied who were exposed to cell phone electromagnetic signals. The study is the first to explore the long term effect on memory from cell phone signals.

The Florida researchers began their studies several years ago when "low-frequency" electromagnetic exposure, such as those emitted by telephone lines, was suspected to raise the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. High frequency emission from cell phones may have quite the opposite effect of providing protection from Alzheimer’s disease by boosting brain cell function says Arendash.