Mobile phone rhetoric messes with your brain

A few days ago, Finnish medical scientists publicised a study which shows that mobile phone radiation suppresses glucose metabolism in areas of the brain adjacent to the antenna. Despite being published in an obscure journal with no internet presence, and a very brief Finnish Academy press release which neither mentions the researchers’ names, nor appears on the websites of the academy or Tekes research funding agency, the story has already been picked up far and wide.

To be fair, the press release includes the following statement…

“No conclusions concerning health risks can be made based on the result.”

Clear and unambiguous, you may be thinking. Maybe so, but this hasn’t stopped media outlets and lobby groups from spinning the story as one that should give rise to concern about the health risks of mobile phone use. I have even seen one mobile accessory manufacturer, which likes to litter promotional material with references to products being “scientifically proven”, argue that the Finnish study backs the use of its phone cases.

An extreme but subtle example I found during a quick web trawl declares that glucose metabolism is associated with brain function on cellular and behavioural levels, affects memory and cognition, and is connected with schizophrenia, stroke and diabetes. So it is, but this decontextualised and unnecessary statement of fact seems designed to draw a spurious link between mobile use and the listed conditions.

It is no wonder the Finnish scientific community avoided making a song and dance about research deserving of publicity in order to to justify the financial investment, but which shows nothing that would warrant public health concern.