Title ImageMTHR - Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research


Project Title:
The effect of mobile phone use on symptoms and neuroendocrine function in 'normal' and 'hypersensitive' users

Expected Start Date:
April 2003

Expected Date of Completion:
June 2006


Research Team:

Principal Investigator:

Professor Simon Wessely

Contact Details:

Mobile Phone Research Unit
New Medical School
King’s College London
Bessemer Road
SE5 9PJ.
Tel: 020 7346 3798
Email: g.rubin@iop.kcl.ac.uk

Project Team:

Dr Anthony Cleare
Dr James Rubin


We are a group of researchers based at King’s College London who have extensive experience in researching new and often difficult to define illnesses such as multiple chemical sensitivity, chronic fatigue syndrome and Gulf War illness.


Our research will examine whether mobile phone signals cause unpleasant symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. We will also investigate whether mobile phone signals affect the levels of certain hormones that are important in regulating our metabolism.

Our study will involve placing a mobile phone next to the heads of volunteers. This phone will either be switched on or off, but has been adapted so that neither the volunteer nor the researcher will know which it is. While the phone is in position, we will take several blood samples for testing and will ask the volunteer to tell us about how he or she is feeling. We will then compare the results of sessions in which the phone was switched on with sessions in which the phone was switched off.

We will do this with two different groups of volunteers; a group who do not normally experience any problems when using mobile phones, and a group of ‘hypersensitive’ people who often experience symptoms when they use a mobile. Therefore, even if mobile signals are only a problem for a small proportion of the population, we will still be able to detect this.


We do not know how many people in the UK are ‘hypersensitive’ to mobile phones, so our main difficulty may be in finding enough hypersensitive people who would like to take part in the study. We would therefore like to invite anybody who experiences headaches caused by mobile phone signals to contact us for more information.


If we can verify that mobile phone signals can cause people to feel unwell then this will be an important finding in its own right. Furthermore, if we discover that mobile signals can affect hormone levels then this might suggest that people with certain hormonal disorders should limit their phone use. Finally, if we show that only a small proportion of people are affected by mobile signals then this would suggest that more research should be done with this group to find out what the biological reasons for this are, and to check whether there are any other adverse effects.


Final Report:

The final report on this project is available to download.


Peer-reviewed papers:

Results from the project have been published in the following peer-reviewed papers:

Rubin GJ, Cleare AJ and Wessely S (2008). Pychological factors associated with self-reported sensistivity to mobile phones. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 64(1), 1-9. Link to abstract.

Rubin GJ, Das Munshi J and Wessely S (2005). Electromagnetic hypersensitivity: A systematic review of provocation studies. Psychosomatic Medicine, 67(2), 224-232. Link to open access paper.

Rubin GJ, Das-Munshi J and Wessely S (2006). A systematic review of treatments for electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 75(1), 12-18. Link to abstract.

Rubin, GJ, Hahn, G, Everitt, B S, Cleare, A J and Wessely, S (2006). Are some people sensitive to mobile phone signals? Within participants double blind randomised provocation study. British Medical Journal, 332(7526), 886-91. Link to open access paper.

Rubin G J, Nieto-Hernandez R and Wessely S (2009). Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance attributed to Electromagnetic Fields (formerly 'Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity'): An updated systematic review of provocation studies. Bioelectromagnetics, 31(1), 1-11. Link to abstract.


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