Can Cell Phones Prevent Alzheimer's Disease?

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

According to a study recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, healthy mice as well as mice with a form of Alzheimer's disease, showed cognitive benefits after long-term exposure to cell-phone levels of radiation. This is precisely the type of study that lends itself to misleading headlines.

The answer to the question "Can cell phones prevent Alzheimer's disease" is probably "no" but, in fairness, nobody really knows. The only study available on the topic was well done and was published in a high-quality journal after passing through a rigorous review process by other scientists with expertise in this area. That study suggests that the answer could be "yes".

So why would I say the answer is probably "no"? For the same reasons that the authors of the study might say so. Because there is no theoretical grounding for the finding, because the study has not yet been duplicated, because the study was designed to test a different hypothesis and therefore certain controls were not in place, and because the study was done on mice, not humans.

To be fair, none of those reasons suggest that there is not some correlation between cell phone radiation and better cognitive health in humans but the odds of that being proven remain very long, even with one study pointing in that direction.

This story, which I think has been reported with fair accuracy in the press (aside from the sensationalistic headlines) is quite indicative of how publishers sometimes fuel unreasonable expectations about scientific breakthroughs that are either too early or too unproven to warrant much excitement in terms of improved healthcare.

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