All over the world, people have been debating about associated health risks due to radiation from mobile phones and mobile towers. The carcinogenicity of this nonionizing radiation has been the greatest health concern associated with mobile towers exposure until recently. The objective of our study was to evaluate the genetic damage caused by radiation from mobile towers and to find an association between genetic polymorphism of GSTM1 and GSTT1 genes and DNA damage.
In our study, 116 persons exposed to radiation from mobile towers and 106 control subjects were genotyped for polymorphisms in the GSTM1 and GSTT1 genes by multiplex polymerase chain reaction method. DNA damage in peripheral blood lymphocytes was determined using alkaline comet assay in terms of tail moment (TM) value and micronucleus assay in buccal cells (BMN).
There was a significant increase in BMN frequency and TM value in exposed subjects (3.65 ± 2.44 and 6.63 ± 2.32) compared with control subjects (1.23 ± 0.97 and 0.26 ± 0.27).
In our study, we found high TM value and BMN frequency at 100- and 150-m distances from mobile towers that could be correlated with more power density at these distances due to the influence of high antenna positions with maximum values shifted to larger distances.
Regarding sex, a significant increase in TM value and BMN frequency was found in females compared with males. This may be due to more exposure time at home. In our study, DNA damage was high in the age group <25 years and the group >45 years compared with the age group 25–45 years. Ilhan et al. (2004) observed that older people must be more cautious for EMR-induced oxidative damage.
In our study, we found that different health symptoms, such as depression, memory status, insomnia, and hair loss, were significantly associated with exposure to EMR.
Damaging effects of nonionizing radiation result from the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and subsequent radical formation and from direct damage to cellular macromolecules including DNA.