Humans are increasingly exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMF) due to electronic devices. These fields are generally referred to as ‘electrosmog’. Common symptoms are fatigue, headache, trouble concentrating, sleep disorders, and dizziness. EMFs are caused by cordless phones, cellular phones, laptops, notebook computers, smart meters, and power lines. Exposure to these fields is rising at the same time as chronic inflammatory diseases increase.
Major organizations, such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer now classify extremely low frequency EMFs and radio-frequency (RF) radiation as carcinogens. The European Environment Agency compares the hazards of EMF to those of asbestos, benzene, and tobacco. “The evidence for a causal relationship between long-term mobile and cordless phone use and risk for brain glioma has increased further in 2015.”
In May 2015, 200 scientists appealed to the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO) arguing that the public should be fully informed of the risks of EMFs, and doctors trained to treat patients with electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome (EHS). In 2015, Dr. ML Pall* wrote a comprehensive report on studies showing physical changes caused by EMFs at non-thermal** levels.
EMFs in the intermediate frequencies are called ‘dirty electricity’. “Epidemiological evidence links dirty electricity to most of the diseases of civilization including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, suicide, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in humans.” Possible mechanisms are free radicals, oxidative stress, and nitrogen stress. EMF radiation may cause excess calcium levels in cells and elevate nitric oxide, while prolonged calcium elevation can trigger cell suicide (apoptosis). Nitric oxide is converted to peroxynitrite, a powerful oxidant, considered the most toxic chemical in the body, and associated with chronic inflammatory diseases.
Our nervous systems are electrical, and external electrical activity can impair them. Chemical, electrical, and behavioral changes have been reported in animals in EMFs. That exposure alters neurotransmitter activity in animals (important in addictive behavior and depression). Amyloid beta protein, the neurotoxin associated with Alzheimer’s disease, is increased by extremely low frequency EMFs. Also, the EMFs may lower melatonin levels. Connections have been made between RF-EMFs and lack loss of myelin which covers nerves in humans and animals. Exposure to low radio frequency electromagnetic fields increases the risk of developing multiple sclerosis, a disease with myelin loss.
Reduction of exposure to EMFs may be important in the prognosis of other diseases. In three studies, children with leukemia exposed to higher EMFs during recovery had poorer survival rates than those in lower EMF environments. Dirty electricity in the kilohertz range may contribute to elevated blood sugars in diabetics. In electromagnetically clean environments, diabetics have lower blood sugars. Also, EMFs damage human sperm DNA, and human sperm damaged by cell phone radiation cannot repair their DNA.
EHS is a disorder in which people are physically sensitive to the effects of EMFs. A scientific panel recommended that people with EHS be regarded as functionally impaired. Symptoms include insomnia, confusion, headaches, along and gastrointestinal and urinary symptoms. People with EHS have a “profound” increase in mast cells of the skin. In some cases the mast*** cells are especially large. (Similar changes have been seen in normal people who sat in front of a cathode ray tube or a television monitor.) Mast cells are associated with itch, pain, swelling, and redness. Elevated histamine blood levels may indicate a chronic inflammatory response in such patients.
The primary treatment for EHS is avoidance of EMFs. If EMF exposure is reduced enough, the body can recover, and symptoms may improve. In areas where people spend more than 4 hours per day, general guidance is that they should be exposed to 1 mG of magnetism and no more than 10 mG at strongest. For those who are sensitive, they should be exposed to only 0.3 mG most of the time and no more than 3 mG.
Steps to reduce EMF exposure include unplugging cordless phone base stations and using corded phones. Unplug Wi-Fi routers. Avoid carrying cell phones on the body, and keep cell phones in airplane mode when possible. Deactivate all nonessential cell phone apps. Use sleeping rooms facing away from EMF sources and keep the bed at least 1 foot away from walls containing wiring and power cords. Turn off power supply to the bedroom while sleeping for a 2 week test period, and do not use an electric blanket. To avoid static magnetic fields, don’t sleep on a bed with metal and don’t sleep close to iron objects, such as radiators.
Other treatments include reducing oxidative damage from reactive oxygen species (ROS) and minimizing the effects of peroxynitrite with the following: Glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and superoxide dismutase (SOD). Alpha-lipoic acid is a good scavenger of free radicals such as peroxynitrite. Useful antioxidants include melatonin, glutathione, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), NADH, NADPH, and ubiquinone, carotenoids, retinoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and tocopherols. (Organic foods have more free electrons than conventionally produced food, and the number of free electrons determines the effectiveness of micronutrients in foods.) The following may interrupt chronic inflammation: tocopherols, carotinoids, vitamin C, NAC, curcumin, resveratrol, and flavonoids. Detoxification of heavy metals, such as mercury and lead, may prevent their accumulation in the brain. Glutathione, NAC, alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin C, selenium, and chelation help in heavy metal detoxification.
CONCLUSION: People should be informed about the risk of exposure to EMFs. Those with EHS should be recognized as having physical disease and treated appropriately.
*Dr. Pall, ML. Microwave Frequency Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) Produce Widespread Neuropsychiatric Effects Including Depression. J Chem Neuroanat. 2015 Aug. 21. Washington State University, Portland, Oregon, USA.
**Non-thermal refers to harm done to cells without temperature increase. The electronic industry contends that electronic devices do no harm if they do not increase tissue temperatures. This is in direct opposition to Dr. Pall’s bibliography of papers showing harm to tissues from EMFs without increased tissue temperature.
***Mast cells are large cells which contain both histamine and heparin. They are increased during inflammatory reactions.
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