A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

Dead in the Water

May 18, 2012

We haven't posted many new items recently because we've been too busy fixing up the new Web site. In the process, we've been rereading many of our old stories. Last night, we came across an item from five years ago under the title "Cell Specific Responses to RF." It highlighted some new research from Finland, which found that cell phone radiation affected the activity of ODC, a biologically important enzyme, in primary, but not secondary, cell lines.

Primary cells are those taken from a live animal while secondary lines, or cultured cells, tend to be bought from a supplier. As the Finnish researchers pointed out, primary lines act more like cells in a live animal. That said, most people use cultured cells because they mulitply in the lab and are more likely to be uniform, and, perhaps most important, they are much easier to get.

At the time, we called the results "startling" because they could help explain why so much of cell biology on RF radiation is contradictory and hard to interpret.

In their paper, the Finns noted that the type of changes in ODC that they observed could indicate an impaired capability to "protect DNA from free radical attack." In the context of widespread concerns over cell phone-induced brain tumors and neurological disease, this, we would think, merited prompt attention.

Yesterday, we wrote to Jukka Juutilainen, a member of the Finnish team, and asked what had happened since 2007 when the paper was published in the International Journal of Radiation Biology. Not much, it turns out. "I am not aware of any attempts to follow up the findings," Juutilainen replied. "We still think the finding is interesting," he added.

The original work was funded, in part by the cell phone industry —the MMF and the GSMA.