Diseases of modern living: neurological changes associated with mobile phones and radiofrequency radiation in humans

Neurosci Lett. 2004 May 6;361(1-3):13-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2003.12.028.


Health effects of radiofrequency radiations (RFR) including mobile phone technology and the adequacy of their safety standards remain uncertain. Case reports of peripheral neurological effects of RFR describe mainly disturbances of noxious sensation (dysaesthesia). Cases associated with other RFR sources as well as mobile phone technology are examined seeking insights into neurophysiological mechanisms and safety levels. Cases have arisen after exposure to much of the frequency range (low MHz to GHz). In some instances symptoms are transitory, but may be lasting in others. After very high intensity exposures nerves may be grossly injured. However, after lower intensity exposures which may result in dysaesthesia, ordinary nerve conduction studies demonstrate no abnormality although current perception threshold studies may. Only a small proportion of similarly exposed persons develop symptoms. The role of modulations (e.g. pulses) needs clarification. Some of these observations are not consistent with the prevailing hypothesis that all health effects of RFR arise from thermal mechanisms. It is concluded that RFR from mobile phones can cause peripheral neurophysiological changes in some persons. The effects occur at exposure levels below the present safety levels for RFR. Possible non-thermal mechanisms are discussed and may point to future directions of research.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone / standards*
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Nervous System / radiation effects*
  • Neural Conduction / radiation effects
  • Paresthesia / etiology*
  • Paresthesia / physiopathology
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiopathology
  • Peripheral Nerves / radiation effects
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Radio Waves / adverse effects*
  • Sensory Thresholds / radiation effects