"That [level of brain activity] is what we see normally when viewing a movie," said Volkow.
But the simulation was exactly that, a simulation, and not the typical scenario where people walk, drive and eat while not only listening to their cell phone but also talking on the gadget, experts noted.
"It is not real world," said Dr. Giuseppe Esposito, chief of nuclear medicine at Georgetown University Hospital and an associate professor of radiology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. "Obviously, this is not what you do normally," he added.
"I don't think we can draw any conclusions as to the health effects of cell phones in general or radiofrequency simulations from this study," he noted.
No one yet knows whether "exposure to these external sources, two to three hours a day for five to 10 years [is going to result] in any untoward effects," Volkow said. "And if you get exposed very early on when the brain is very plastic, would there be any detrimental effects? That's an important question that needs to be addressed."
Nor is it clear what part of the brain might be affected, given that older cell phones had antennas closer to the brain than newer ones, like those used in this study, which are closer to the mouth.
Volkow is now planning a retrospective study to see if long-time cell phone users -- say, two hours a day over 10 years -- have any obvious health consequences.
In a statement, John Walls, vice president of public affairs for CTIA-The Wireless Association, had this to say: "Since we are not a scientific organization, with respect to the matter of health effects associated with wireless base stations and the use of wireless devices, CTIA and the wireless industry have always been guided by science, and the views of impartial health organizations. The peer-reviewed scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that wireless devices, within the limits established by
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