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Mobile Phones and Ageing Archive


A recent survey showed that some British mobile phones emit the highest levels of radiation in Europe, though they are still within international safety regulations.   Several large organisations advise their employees to limit the use of the phones, as a precautionary measure. Some scientists fear that children are at greatest risk of radiation because their skulls are thinner than those of adults.  A review in the Lancet states that mobile phones have been shown to cause brain disturbance and memory loss.

Dr Marios Kyriazis, medical advisor to the British Longevity Society, provides information and advice



At the moment, there is no firm proof of the long-term effect of using mobile phones. Some of the warnings are anecdotal, but many are based on solid research. Though limited use of mobile phones is considered harmless, there is concern that the damage can accumulate with time, causing irreversible effects.  

Radiation and free radicals


Mobile phones emit microwave radiation and most work between the frequencies 400-1780 MHz. Depending on a) the power of the device, b) the time one spends talking on the phone, and c) how far away from the body the device is held, there are several ways by which radiation can accelerate ageing. In experiments, the radiation was found to increase production of free radicals in brain tissues. Free radicals damage tissue and organs and are a known cause of ageing.  


What does radiation do? 


When emitted from mobile phones it can disrupt the function of brain cells, and particularly affect the cell membrane - the transmission of signals from one cell to another - and calcium metabolism within the cell. Acetylcholine, a chemical involved in memory, may also be affected.


Researchers report that mobile phone users complain of short-term memory loss, most prominently after a phone conversation. This damage, if repeated frequently over several years, may have long-term consequences on memory.  

Mobile phone radiation can also disrupt  DNA and cause difficulties in its normal repair mechanisms. Short-term exposure to radiation causes mild DNA damage which is repaired easily, but longer exposure may affect cells which do not generally renew throughout life (such as brain cells), so the damage stays unrepaired and accumulates over time to cause effects similar to those seen in normal ageing.  

Vulnerable parts of the body


The brain is relatively protected against radiation, depending on the thickness of the skull. If the phone is kept for long periods on other parts of the body (such as in a plastic holder on the waist) this causes further damage because soft parts of the body are not protected against radiation as efficiently as the brain.

The absorption of radiation is increased by metallic items such as earrings, metallic spectacle frames and metal tooth implants or fillings. These act as re-radiating antennae and, with time, enhance and amplify the effects of radiation.  

Is there a risk of cancer?


Researchers from North Carolina report that radiation accelerates ageing of certain human cells (endometrial cells) which become unable to function properly and cannot restrain cancerous cells, thus cancerous cells remain free and could multiply. Low level radiation also increases the formation of heat shock proteins (HSP). These are proteins formed by normal cells when exposed to damage, a common phenomenon during ageing. HSP act as a ‘scaffolding’ to help repair damaged body proteins. They are a sign that damage has been caused somewhere in the body.


Radiation may cause free radical damage and other damage to the eye, contributing to cataract and macular degeneration, two common age-related eye conditions.


The immune system may be affected and also melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle and which may play a role in preventing age-related damage. Finally, radiation  interferes with serotonin production, which has the effect of reducing feelings of well-being and increasing depression.

Again, it must be stressed that there is more research needed, and the findings are not conclusive.  However, most experts agree that if the exposure is maintained over many years (life-long), then the radiation effects described above are likely to become more pronounced.


How to minimise damage from mobile phones:

  • Avoid prolonged exposure and use suitable radiation shields (ask your supplier)

  • Use a mobile phone only when necessary, and switch it off if you are not using  it (mobile phones left switched on still emit low levels of radiation)

  • Take extra antioxidants (vitamins A, C and E) which are proven to reduce free radical damage. Eat at least 5 pieces of fruit and fresh vegetables daily

Dr Marios Kyriazis’ book ‘The Anti-Aging Plan’ contains information on ageing and age-related diseases, including conventional and complementary treatments.


If in any doubt about any of the information covered in any health related article and its relevance for you, consult your GP.



To view previous articles in this series - see the laterlife-interest index page




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