SCIENTISTS from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have discovered that those who talk excessively on their cellular phones are at risk of developing acoustic neuroma, a hearing disorder caused by tumor growth, according to Anders Ahlbom, director of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institute, BBC News.

The study observed 750 randomly selected subjects and discovered that after 10 years, 150 subjects that talked on their cellular phones frequently and excessively developed acoustic neuroma in the ears.

According to Dr. Norberto Martinez, director of Medical Otorhinolaryngology at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, acoustic neuroma is a benign and slow-growing intracranial tumor of the myelin-forming cells of the auditory nerve, which is responsible for transmitting sound and equilibrium information from the inner ear to the brain.

Acoustic neuroma is most commonly caused by the mutation of Schwann cells, thin sheets of insulators that cover the auditory nerve. According to Martinez, once the tumor grows in the ear, hearing loss will manifest. A person with acoustic neuroma may also develop tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, and may experience imbalances in perception.

Once the tumor grows, facial sensation and blinking of the eyes become weak. If it remains untreated, paralysis of the facial, glossopharyngeal, pneumogastric, and accessory cranial nerves develops. These nerves are vital to the proper functioning of the body’s basic activities like swallowing and breathing.

The Karolinska Institute study was based on another study conducted in 2002 by Finnish scientists who had discovered that electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones affects human brain tissue by mutating brain cells. The emissions may alter the DNA of the cells, resulting in the production of incorrect codes of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), which is responsible for sending messages to the sites of protein synthesis.

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A German study by Dr. Stephan Braune published in 1998 in The Lancet, an international journal for medical science and practice, had also found that the learning and short-term memory of rats were impaired after 45 minutes of exposure to electromagnetic radiation from pulsed digital mobile phones.

A 1998 study by Dr. Kjell Hansson Mild of Sweden observed 11,000 mobile phone users and reported that those who talked longer on their cellular phones developed symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and burning sensations of the skin.

To avoid these symptoms, Maild advised the public to use their cellular phones less frequently and to use “hands-free” options when they do make or receive calls, Globalchange News.

But despite these findings, Martinez says that, in the Philippines, there is no immediate evidence linking cellular phone use and acoustic neuroma and that more studies have to be conducted before it can be proven that cellular phones really do cause the illness.

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