In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was found that the radio waves given off by cell phones affect the metabolism in your brain. This effect is by no means harmful, contrary to many studies that have attempted to blame mobile communications for brain tumors.

It is scientifically logical that your brain would be affected by a cell phone, as electrical signals are the primary form of communication between cells, and the devices give off electrical pulses.

Surveying 47 patients to see if electromagnetic fields produced by cell phones are strong enough to cause a change in glucose metabolism in the brain, the study was conducted by the National Institutes of Health. Using positron emission tomography, also known as PET scanning, researches tracked down the location and timing of brain activity by looking at the consumption of energy.

“Because there’s been such a massive expansion in cell phone use these past 15 to 20 years, it behooves us to try to understand whether, if we use these devices repeatedly and intensively for years, do they have lasting effects?” said Nora Volkow, who has spent the past few years primarily studying the effect of addiction on the brain, speaking on behalf of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The study indicated that cellphone use does not contribute to the development of brain cancers, but it did find that two areas of the brain that were close in proximity to the phone’s antenna displayed unusual activity throughout a 50-minute period.

Researchers believe that if one places a phone on different areas of the head, different areas of the brain will display this response, which is equivalent to exposure to light causing heightened activity. It was confirmed that the response came as a result of audio signaling, however, as they were sure to mute the phones. The subjects had no knowledge as to whether or not the phone was transmitting a signal or not.

Dr. Keith Black was surprised and intriguiged by the finding, noting that:

We [doctors] normally don’t expect the brain to be activated unless it’s in response to stimulation, or unless it’s in a pathological state such as epilepsy. We don’t know whether this is a good effect, a neutral effect or a bad effect — and if it is a bad effect, we don’t know what kind of exposure is required to cause harm.

Is it safe to be completely reliant on your cell phone for social communication? It is likely that the answer is “no”, and one should employ its use in moderation. Remain skeptical in reading many of these studies, as many are either ambiguous, such as this, or full of hot air.

What do you think? Is there any backing to claims of the malignant effect of cellular communications? Even if there was, would you stoping using your smartphone? Sound off in the comments below.

[via The Los Angeles Times, source the Journal of the American Medical Association]