Study: Cell phones may cause heart irregularities

The development provides a new angle on health concerns related to cell phones. Critics have previously said that cell phones may raise rates of cancer and brain tumors, but heart concerns have been rare.

A debate has gained ground this year on whether cell phones present a health risk. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) introduced legislation in June to fund research on this question. His bill also calls for devices to be labeled to reflect how much radiation they emit.

San Francisco moved in June to require cell phone retailers to label radiation levels. 

The cell phone industry says that devices are safe and rigorously tested. Critics contend the research suggesting a link between health hazards and cell phones is questionable at best. 

The authors of this study say devices can cause people to experience "heart arrhythmia, heart palpitations, heart flutter, or rapid heartbeat and/vasovagal symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, [and] profuse sweating."

Younger participants (ages 37 to 58) displayed the most intense responses, "presumably because they were healthy enough to mount a response to a stressor," the authors write. The study tested people ages 37 to 79.

“While not everyone who is electrically sensitive responds in this manner, those who do will have difficulty being in environments where microwave radiation is present, which is virtually everywhere in our modern, wireless culture,” one of the authors wrote. “Cordless phones and cell phones as well as wireless computers and wi-fi networks generate this form of microwave radiation.”