Smartphones ‘Can Affect Memory’
Associated Newspapers Ltd.
Journalist: Nick Pryer
July 16, 1998

Mobile phones can cause sudden confusion and short-term memory loss, according to worrying research by British military scientists.

Signals from the phones disrupt part of the brain which controls memory and learning, researchers at the Defense Establishment Research Agency have discovered.

Their findings raise fresh doubts over the safety of the gadgets used by nine million people in Britain.

Last month two studies found the phones can increase blood pressure and may harm pregnant women, and they have been linked with brain tumors, cancer, headaches and tiredness.

Project director Dr Rick Hold told the Daily Mail there was no evidence the phones could do long-term damage to humans. But he added: “This is the first real evidence that these sort of radio waves do have an effect on the brain.

“We cannot say, at this stage, whether this is dangerous or not, but clearly we need to find out quickly.”

The research was carried out with funding from the MoD and the Department of Health, which has previously insisted that mobile phones pose no major hazard. Last year an American study found that rats exposed to 45 minutes of microwave radiation similar to the levels emitted by phones lost their ability to learn simple tasks.

Recent Swedish research found a dramatic increase of symptoms such as headaches and fatigue among users and the World Health Organization has announced an investigation into whether mobile phones can cause brain tumors. The Department of Health refused to comment on the findings and the mobile phone companies insist their product had been shown to be safe by experiments worldwide.

But scientist Dr Roger Coghill, who has campaigned for warning labels on mobile phones, said: “Anyone who uses a mobile phone for more than 20 minutes at a time needs their head examined.”

He claimed that five separate research teams in the last month alone had produced evidence that mobiles could be harmful.

The MoD research was conducted on sections of dead rats’ brains dealing with short-term memory, artificially stimulated to make them function and then exposed to radio signals at lower levels than the current safety limits.

The researchers found that the signal made no difference to their measurements for a short time, but then readings plunged off the bottom of the graph. In a live rat, the effect would have cause sudden memory loss and confusion. When the radio signal was removed, readings returned to normal, they discovered.