Mobile phones, WiFi, and other digital gadgets can affect the way you think and what you remember.
Remember that ad where an egg sizzling on a griddle represents your brain on drugs? A growing body of research suggests that electromagnetic fields (EMFs)—from antennas, your Blackberry, cell and cordless phones, electrical appliances and faulty wiring, electronics, and wireless—may have equally dangerous effects.
That’s because brain cells recognize EMFs much the way they do environmental pollutants. The brain goes into a protective lock-down mode in which cell membranes go from a permeable state to an impermeable or inactive state. This, in effect, traps toxic electromagnetic radiation inside the cell, so the body’s normal detoxification processes are largely impaired.
Recent research in the journal Clinical Neurophysiology reports that mobile phone emissions affect the brain’s “cross talk,” critical inter-hemispheric functioning. Normally, one side of the brain controls movement on the opposite side of the body (i.e., the left side of the brain controls movement on the right side of the body).
When your normal cross talk starts to break down, however, both sides of the brain jabber away at once, resulting in slower response time. Using MRIs to image blood-oxygen levels in different parts of the brains of older adults, University of Michigan researchers found “The more they recruited the other side of the brain, the slower they responded.”
Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, are discovering similar problems at any age—now that we’re constantly bombarded by digital stimuli. One new study shows that when lab animals experience something new, like exploring an unfamiliar area, their brains exhibit new patterns of activity. But only when they take a break from their exploration do animals process these patterns into their memories.
Interpreting these results onto the ways humans learn, Loren Frank, PhD, assistant professor of physiology, says, “Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it’s had, solidify them, and turn them into permanent long-term memories.” When our brains—like those in lab animals—are constantly stimulated, “you prevent this learning process,” he adds.
Dr. Ann Louise’s Take:
It’s no wonder that numerous studies link learning problems—as well as increased signs of aging—with electropollution. Today, “everyone is exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from electricity, extremely low frequency (ELF), communication frequencies, and wireless devices (radiofrequency, RF),” says D. O. Carpenter, professor of environmental health and biomedical sciences at the University of Albany.
One way these man-made fields disrupt normal function is by increasing the number of brain cell receptors—often described as a keyhole into which the key (a chemical messenger called a neurotransmitter) fits perfectly to allow the flow of information from the brain to other parts of the body. When there are too many receptors, the messages to and from the brain get garbled.
Another problem caused by even low-level EMFs is the rupture of delicate cell membranes, causing them to leak electrically charged calcium atoms that normally bind to the cell membrane. In other words, our brain cells literally come unglued!
Just two hours of microwave radiation from cell phones has been found to cause broken strands of DNA—damage that leads to cancer—in rats. These lab animals also showed memory lapses and fluids leaking from their brains, signaling a breach in the all-important blood-brain barrier.
What This Means To You
A comprehensive review by the World Health Organization reveals that people who use cell phones for a half an hour a day for over 10 years have twice the risk of a rare brain tumor, or glioma, on the side of their head where they tend to hold their phone. This suggests, both to researchers and myself, that even fairly light cell phone use dramatically cuts the latency period for brain tumors, which is normally 40 years.
That’s why I’ve written Zapped—jam packed with ways we can reduce our exposure to brain-damaging radiation. There’s also a lot we can do nutritionally to support our brains and the rest of our bodies from dangerous EMFs.
For example, calcium is the glue that keeps your cells flexible and functioning the way they’re supposed to. But because EMFs can also rupture the delicate cell membrane, calcium can leak out.
What happens when calcium ions from a torn membrane flood the main part of the cells? If these ions pour into one or more of 100 billion brain cells, which use small doses of calcium to make neurotransmitters, they can release these chemical messengers too soon, too often, or at the wrong time. This creates false messages that you’re in pain, like headaches, or produces neurological symptoms, like numbness—part of the collection of problems experienced by people hypersensitive to EMFs. Too many calcium ions in your brain cells may also impair your life-saving ability to assess a situation correctly.
British scientist Andrew Goldsworthy, PhD, at the Imperial College of London, believes that an increase in accidents among cell phone users has less to do with distraction than with delayed reactions caused by the flood of calcium ions into brain cells. This flood creates what he calls “a mental fog” of false information, obscuring our ability to react correctly to a child on a bike pulling out in front of us at twilight.
That’s not all. Calcium also mediates various signals between cells that prevent unregulated cell growth. “Many researchers consider EMFs to be cancer promoters at the least—if not outright initiators,” writes investigative reporter B. Blake Levitt.
To protect your brain and all the rest of you, I recommend easily absorbed calcium, the mortar that holds your cells together—in at least a 1:1 ratio with magnesium, calcium’s sister mineral, which Osteo-Key provides. In addition to vitamin D3 and MCH microcrystalline hydroxyapatite (shown superior to other forms of calcium), Osteo-Key contains the MK-7 form of vitamin K2, which has the unique ability to move calcium out of the arteries and into the bones.
For more on All-Star Supplements and Zap-Proof Foods, order your copy of Zapped (available for shipping starting tomorrow).
Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution