Scientific Studies on the Health Effects of EMF

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Cancer cell from EMFElectronic devices we use every day, have not been around very long. For example, although the cell phone has grown over the past twenty years, it is only recently that they have become pervasive. Everyone now own one. As a result, it is only now that we are beginning to understand what the long-term health effects of low levels of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF) emitted from these electronic devices.

The growing body of scientific research indicates that electronic emissions do have an effect on human biology. There are health risks linked to exposure, and we should expect more studies designed to improve our understanding.

The following is a list of health concerns linked to Electromagnetic Radiation exposure and synopsis of current research findings:

Areas of Health Concern

Asthma

In a study, researchers found that babies born to women who were exposed to stronger EMFs during pregnancy had more than 3x the risk of developing asthma than babies born to mothers exposed to weaker EMFs. In Australia, the Institute of Health announced in 2007 that the 5 leading causes of non-fatal illness for the country were: diabetes, ischemic heart disease, dementia, asthma, anxiety and depression. All of these were linked to the sudden explosion of wireless technology ~15 years ago.

References:

  1. Maternal Exposure to Magnetic Fields During Pregnancy in Relation to the Risk of Asthma in Offspring
  2. Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF) and Potential Adverse Health Affects

Autism

Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASCs) involve multi-level disturbances of underlying biology. They have been indicted as a result of biological effects of Radio Frequency (RF) EMF radiation exposure. It is hypothesized that the Electromagnetic Radiation exposure causes oxidative damage and cellular stress to proteins, which results in neurological harm. Electromagnetic Radiation is purported to set the biological balance out of tune and exacerbate symptoms of ACS for those who possess the disorder.

References:

  1. Autism and EMF? Plausibility of a pathophysiological link part II
  2. A possible association between fetal/ neonatal exposure to radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation and the increased incidence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD)

Burns

Non-ionizing radiation leads to heat generation. Thermal effects can lead to burns. Two patients suffered inadvertent injury to their oral mucosa, requiring medical treatment, after the ingestion of microwave-heated food. Thermal burns can also be caused by exposure to laptops or other electronic devices. Care must be taken to be cognizant of the heat generated by electronic devices.

References:

  1. Oro-facial thermal injury caused by food heated in a microwave oven
  2. Burn Injury Caused by Laptop Computers

Cancer

General

Laptops, tablets and cell phones emit both Radio Frequency (RF) and Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radiation, which can be absorbed the tissues closest to where the device is used. Some research has associated radiation exposure to multiple forms of cancer. More research is needed because how people are using their electronic devices vary along with their ages getting younger and younger. More evidence is needed, as skeptics challenge the conflicting reports.

References:

  1. Oxidative mechanisms of biological activity of low-intensity radiofrequency radiation
  2. The Effects of Cell Phone Waves (900 MHz-GSM Band) on Sperm Parameters and Total Antioxidant Capacity in Rats
  3. Findings Show Radiation Emissions from Wireless Phones are Class 1 Carcinogens
  4. Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields cause DNA strand breaks in normal cells
  5. Human disease resulting from exposure to electromagnetic fields
  6. Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF) and Potential Adverse Health Affects
  7. National Cancer Institute: cell phones and Cancer Risk

Brain Cancer

Typically, brain cancer is a rare condition. Epidemiological studies indicate brain tumors account for 1.4% of all cancers and 2.4% of all cancer-related deaths. Nonetheless, statistical evidence has pointed to the increased incidence of rare forms of brain cancer and evidence has pointed to EMF exposure as one possible cause.

References:

  1. Mobile phone and cordless phone use and the risk for glioma – Analysis of pooled case-control studies in Sweden, 1997–2003 and 2007–2009
  2. Tumor promotion by exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields below exposure limits for humans
  3. Occupational exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields and brain tumour risks in the INTEROCC study
  4. Mobile phone use and brain tumors in the CERENAT case-control study
  5. Intensive mobile phone users at higher risk of brain cancers, says study
  6. Epidemiological features of brain tumors
  7. Scientific American: Fact or Fiction? cell phones can cause brain cancer

Breast Cancer

In 2013, an article was published which received a good deal of short-term media attention. Public awareness seems to have faded since then. The study showed the cause of 4 women under age 40 whom had developed breast cancer without previous family history or genetic disposition. These young women, ages 21 to 39, were found to have developed breast cancer in the shape of their cell phones in the region of the breast tissue, where they had kept their cell phones daily over the course of 10 hours a day for several years. In a more recent 2014 study, researchers found that Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) EMFs may be increase the risk of human breast cancer and that a woman’s exposure to ELF-EMFs may be the risk factor of breast cancer when they are non-menopausal.

References:

  1. Relationship between exposure to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis
  2. Multifocal Breast Cancer in Young Women with Prolonged Contact between Their Breasts and Their Cellular Phones

Leukemia

Research has indicated that there may be a slight increased risk for leukemia in children caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields. Homes with high levels of Electromagnetic Radiation, due to the proximity of overhead power cables, had an increased incidence of children whom developed this disease. Because only a small number of children got this rare condition, researchers concluded that the results could be due to other factors or chance despite the results being repeatable. International teams of scientists have since tried to study the correlation. They have been unable to explain the mechanism that causes the disease. Some argue that Electromagnetic Radiation must not cause leukemia because if it did stronger evidence would have been found by now. However, this is a mistake. Scientists themselves say it takes many years to definitively prove any theory or, for that matter, many years for the cancers to emerge once exposed. Just because not enough evidence can be found today does not mean the evidence does not exist.

References:

  1. Exposure to electromagnetic fields (non-ionizing radiation and its relationship with childhood leukemia: A systematic review
  2. Cancer Research UK

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity

Some individuals report suffering from electromagnetic hypersensitivity due to non-ionizing radiation exposure. Typical symptoms associated with this disorder include: headache, fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances, skin symptoms, muscle ache or pain, and other health problems. Presently, there is a controversy as to whether or not individuals can be electromagnetic hypersensitive because some exposed individuals were not able to distinguish between placebo and actual Electromagnetic Radiation fields. However, this is not to say that all individuals cannot be electromagnetic hypersensitive.

References:

  1. Electromagnetic hypersensitivity: a systematic review of provocation studies

Enzyme Dysfunction

Electromagnetic fields effects on humans and all animals is a concern. Published in 2014, cow enzymes were studied as a model for animal exposure. Exposure to non-ionizing radiation resulted in bovine enzyme changes. Some enzymes were disabled completely. Others exhibited unusual patterns. Yet, others did not react. Thus, these findings corroborate the theory that some individuals may be sensitive to radiation while others are not.

References:

  1. Influence of non-ionizing radiation of base stations on the activity of redox proteins of bovines

Eye Injury

Rabbits’ eyes were exposed to radiation, similar to that emitted by common electronic devices. Forty rabbits were tested. The eyes were then stained and measured for corneal damage and epithelial cell loss. It was found that three types of millimeter-wave antennas can cause thermal injuries of varying type and levels. These waves can penetrate below the surface of the eye.

References:

  1. Acute ocular injuries caused by 60-Ghz millimeter-wave exposure

General

One study has found that different health symptoms, such as depression, memory status, insomnia, and hair loss, were significantly associated with exposure to EMR from mobile towers.

Another study summarizes the evidence stating that excessive exposure to magnetic fields from power lines and other sources of electric current increases the risk of development of some cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, and that excessive exposure to RF radiation increases risk of cancer, male infertility, and neurobehavioral abnormalities.

A third study tended to suggest a need for more cautious use of cell phones with children, because children are expected to experience a longer lifetime exposure to Radio Frequency (RF) radiation from cell phones.

References:

  1. Genetic Damage in Humans Populations Exposed to Radiation From Mobile Towers
  2. Human disease resulting from exposure to electromagnetic fields
  3. Mobile phone use and health symptoms in children

Fertility

Sperm Defects

Several studies done in rat models have shown that electronic devices like laptops and cell phones were able to negatively impact sperm quality. Sperm became defective with DNA damage and malformations, which decreased the sperm motility. In humans, similar results were found. Thus, there is caution from the medical community for men to avoid putting cell phones in their pant pockets.

References:

  1. Use of laptop computers connected to internet through Wi-Fi decreases human sperm motility and increases sperm DNA fragmentation
  2. Effect of mobile telephones on sperm quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis
  3. Mobile phones affect multiple sperm quality traits: a meta-analysis
  4. Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Radiation (RF-EMR) from GSM (0.9/1.8GHz) Mobile Phones Induces Oxidative Stress and Reduces Sperm Motility in Rats
  5. Web MD: Infertility and Reproduction Health Center

Deformed Testes

 

References:

  1. Exposure to a 900 MHz electromagnetic field for one hour a day over 30 days does change the histopathology and biochemistry of the rat testis
  2. Structural and ultra-structural study of rat testes influenced by Electromagnetic Radiation
  3. Effect of long-term exposure of 2.4 GHz radiofrequency radiation emitted from Wi-Fi equipment on testes functions

Erectile Dysfunction

Potential correlations have been found with cell phone use and negative impact on erectile dysfunction. Research in this area is new and trending. More data is expected to come out shortly.

References:

  1. Cell phone usage and erectile function

Pregnancy

One current study has found that prolonged computer and mobile phone use is associated with a 6-fold increase in the risk of miscarriage. In another study, researchers found exposure to 2450 MHz EMF, particularly in the prenatal period, resulted in postnatal growth restriction and delayed puberty in female Wistar rats. According other researchers, the fetus is most susceptible to radiation during organogenesis (2-7 weeks after conception) and in the early fetal period (8-15 weeks after conception).

Research also suggests that in-utero exposure to EMF can cause childhood obesity. Children who were exposed to high level of EMF while in the mother’s womb had ~70% risk of suffering from weight problems or obesity during childhood than children who had low in-utero exposure to magnetic fields.

At high levels of radiation exposure, the following can occur: spontaneous abortion, growth restriction, mental retardation, childhood obesity and cancer. Some articles argue that studies have not consistently found a link between non-ionizing radiation and disease. However, the fact that some links have been found is disconcerting. Caution is advised to pregnant women to avoid an unnecessary radiation exposure.

References:

  1. Use of mobile phone during pregnancy and the risk of spontaneous abortion
  2. Lifestyle Risk Factors Associated with Threatened Miscarriage: A Case-Control Study
  3. The effects of long-term exposure to a 2450 MHz electromagnetic field on growth and pubertal development in female Wistar rats
  4. Correlation between Exposure to Magnetic Fields and Embryonic Development in the First Trimester
  5. A Prospective Study of In-utero Exposure to Magnetic Fields and the Risk of Childhood Obesity
  6. Risk of Radiation Exposure to Children and Their Mothers
  7. Health Effects of Prenatal Radiation Exposure

Genetic Damage

Studies have found that Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) and Radio Frequency (RF) Electromagnetic Radiation can cause impairment and mutations in DNA, which can lead to cancer. Other studies find that Electromagnetic Radiation may lead to changes in the physiological indices, genetics, and immune function of the operators.

References:

  1. Effects of 2.4 GHZ radiofrequency radiation emitted from wi-fi equipment on microrna expression in brain tissue
  2. Cell biology and EMF safety standards
  3. Low intensity radiofrequency radiation: a new oxidant for living cells
  4. Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation on health and immune function of operators
  5. Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields cause DNA strand breaks in normal cells
  6. Electromagnetic fields and health: DNA-based dosimetry

Insomnia or Sleeplessness

In Jan 2013, Airport surveillance operators were studied. These workers are routinely exposed to pulsed high frequency electromagnetic fields. Potential health effects were investigated. Workers were given a self-administered assessment tool. Also, they were tested for visual reaction time and short-term memory using standardized tests. The results indicated that occupational exposure to radar microwave radiation led to changes in somatic symptoms, anxiety and insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression. Even rats exposed to Electromagnetic Radiation experienced irregular sleep cycles.

References:

  1. Adverse health effects of occupational exposure to radiofrequency radiation in airport surveillance radar operators
  2. Non-thermal continuous and modulated Electromagnetic Radiation effects on sleep EEG of rats

Liver Damage

In a Chinese study, published in May 2014, Electromagnetic Radiation induced by a 900 MHz cell phone was determined to affect the expression of the Nrf2 protein and induce abnormal morphology of liver cells, causing oxidative injury. The publication was looking for ways to reverse damage to the liver caused by cell phone radiation.

References:

  1. Effect of American Ginseng Capsule on the liver oxidative injury and the Nrf2 protein expression in rats exposed by Electromagnetic Radiation of frequency of cell phone

Neuron Growth

Exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation at 1800 MHz impaired neural cell growth. This points to a mechanism by which brain damage could occur from Electromagnetic Radiation exposure.

References:

  1. Effects of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Signal Exposure on Brain Glucose Metabolism

Personality Disorders

Studies have been published describing cognitive and physiological effects of extremely low frequency magnetic field exposure.

References:

  1. Exposure to ELF magnetic and ELF-modulated radiofrequency fields: the time course of physiological and cognitive effects observed in recent studies (2001-2005)

Radiation Sickness

Radiation is energy. Too much of it can cause an adverse effect. According to the EPA, there are two types of health effects associated with exposure to radiation. The two categories are: those arising from stochastic or long-term, low-level chronic exposure and those arising from non-stochastic or high levels of radiation exposure. Generally, non-ionizing radiation effects are deemed to be stochastic in nature, as the radiation is considered lower energy and therefore may take time to show noticeable effect. A variety of ailments are associated with stochastic radiation exposure. Radiation has even been indicted as an environmental toxin, which synergizes with other pollutants to cause an exacerbated negative effect.

References:

  1. Radiofrequency radiation overexposure
  2. EPA: Radiation Protection
  3. Electromagnetic Radiation and Toxic Exposure

Toasted Skin Syndrome (Erythema ab igne)

Laptops can reach temperatures upwards of 110-115 ºF. Toasted skin syndrome is a condition in which reddish-brown hyperpigmentation is seen on the surface of the skin, caused by heat and radiation exposure from laptops.The pigmentation change was, thus far, irreversible.

References:

  1. Laptop-induced erythema ab igne: Report and Review of literature
  2. Laptop induced erythema ab igne
  3. Erythema ab igne

Water

Water treated with electromagnetic field was investigated because of its potential biological impact on humans and plants. The results indicated that electromagnetic-treated water could have diverse biological effects. It is theorized that water may have a memory effect. In short, even water behaved differently after exposure.

References:

  1. Diverse biological effects of electromagnetic-treated water

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