If Cell Phones Are Behind the Bee Decline, What Are They Doing to Humans?

For years, scientists have been trying to explain why the bee population has been drastically declining. A new study may hold the answer, CNN reports, and it could have an impact on humans, too. First, the study:

In a study at Panjab University in Chandigarh, northern India, researchers fitted cell phones to a hive and powered them up for two fifteen-minute periods each day.

After three months, they found the bees stopped producing honey, egg production by the queen bee halved, and the size of the hive dramatically reduced.

Andrew Goldsworthy, a biologist from Imperial College, London, told CNN that the reason may have to do with radiation from cell phones and cell towers disturbing the molecules of the chemical cryptochrome, which bees and other animals use for navigation. The "other animals" part there is key: it includes humans.

Cryptochrome apparently also plays a role in controlling circadian rhythms. If cell phone and tower radiation disturbs cryptochrome molecules, it could have serious consequences for our circadian rhythms, Goldsworthy wrote in a briefing for an independent, British radiation research group last year. Circadian rhythms follow a roughly 24-hour cycle and play a key role in physically, mentally and behaviorally regulating our bodies. Mess with your circadian rhythms and you screw with, among other things, your ability to be well-rested and the associated health benefits. Goldsworthy argues that the link between phone radiation and cryptochrome could then explain the sometimes-found link between cell phones and cancer:

[A]ny weakening of the amplitude of these rhythms means that at no time will any process controlled by them ever function at maximum power. In particular, the immune system may never be able to summon up the overwhelming power that is sometimes needed to overcome pathogens or to destroy developing cancer cells before they get out of control.

Of course, the ostensible link between cell phones and cancer is itself up for debate, but if the evidence starts supporting that connection, then cryptochrome might be at the heart of it all.

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Niraj Chokshi is a former staff editor at TheAtlantic.com, where he wrote about technology. He is currently freelancing and can be reached through his personal website, NirajC.com. More

Niraj previously reported on the business of the nation's largest law firms for The Recorder, a San Francisco legal newspaper. He has also been published in The Hartford Courant, The Seattle Times and The Age, in Melbourne, Australia. He's also a longtime programmer and sometimes website designer.

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