Have you ever stopped to consider the potential effects of EMFs on your health? Unfortunately, the technology you use on a daily basis could be hurting your health. Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMFs) are waves of energy that come from power lines, mobile phones, laptops, and many other appliances and technological devices. According to a growing body of research, radiation from these electronic structures and devices may have a negative impact on humans. In this article, you’ll learn more about EMFs, why they pose potential health risks, and what you can do to protect yourself.
UNDERSTANDING EMFS: THE BASICS
Basically, EMFs are spaces where radiation flows from electrical sources. As the voltage of the electricity increases, the EMF field grows stronger. (The typical measurement of EMF strength is electric volts per meter (V/m).) Magnetic fields are closely related to electrical fields. As their strength increases, the electrical voltages become stronger, too.
Two categories of EMFs
- Non-ionizing: This type of radiation is a low-level radiation that, until recently, has been considered “safe” for humans. Microwaves, computers, cell phones, bluetooth devices, power lines, WiFi networks, and MRIs are all examples of non-ionizing radiation sources.
- Ionizing: The second type of EMF is higher frequency radiation that comes from the sun, some gamma rays, and X-rays. Too much exposure to ionizing EMFs can cause dangerous changes to your body on a cellular level, and it can even result in DNA alterations. Ionizing radiation is carcinogenic, meaning that it may cause cancer.
Notably, your own body produces non-ionizing radiation in very small quantities. This includes your brain and heart, which explains why a defibrillator can shock a heart back to life through electrical means. Additionally, the mitochondria in your cells, as well as your liver enzymes, function using light energy and electrical activity.
Remember, however, that these electrical systems in your body produce much smaller fields of radiation than devices made by humans.
EMFS CHANGE THE WAY YOUR CELLS BEHAVE
Many of the cells in your body contain a type of transmembrane proteins called voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs). According to a study published by Cold Springs Harbor Perspectives in Biology, VGCCs control important cellular activity like gene and enzyme expressions and muscle contractions. They also control how the cells release neurotransmitters and hormones. They do this by permitting calcium ions to enter each cell, which is necessary for carrying out each of the aforementioned actions.
Nearly thirty studies, as discussed in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Reviews on Environmental Health, have shown that non-ionizing EMFs cause a huge flood of calcium ions to enter the cells. As a result, normal cellular activity is disrupted. Over time, this can lead to extreme health consequences, such as cancer or fertility problems.
UNTANGLING THE CONFLICTING MESSAGES SURROUNDING NON-IONIZING EMFS
While it has been rather firmly established that ionizing radiation is dangerous to humans, most people have never considered non-ionized radiation from man-made sources to be a problem. For example, multiple studies have convinced the general public that too much sun exposure can lead to cancer. In contrast, not much has been said about prolonged exposure to 5G networks or your home’s energy smart meter and possible negative consequences.
Of course, the companies producing and selling technological devices with non-ionizing EMFs will tell you that there is nothing to worry about. According to the Canadian Electricity Association, there is no scientific evidence that exposure to non-ionizing EMFs causes health problems. Even the World Health Organization (WHO), does not seem particularly concerned. However, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer acknowledges that EMFs may be carcinogenic. In fact, they even state that certain studies do suggest a “correlation” between cancer and EMFs.
Contrary to these messages telling you that there is nothing to worry about, it is time to critically examine the evidence. In reality, there are numerous (and compelling) studies revealing the potential danger of EMFs to your health. While it might take years or even decades for real health effects to show up, they may indeed pose a real threat. Below, I will walk you through four major health risks of the EMFs that we come in contact with everyday.
1. The Effects of EMFs on the Brain
Since your brain has the most VGCCs, it may be the organ that is most vulnerable to damage via EMFs. Consider the following three studies:
- First, look at this review disputing the conclusions of Canadian Safety Panel 6. Contrary to the safety panel’s statements, multiple studies have examined the connection between prolonged, low-level EMF exposure and health problems related to the brain. These health problems include fatigue, negative shifts in mood, difficulty sleeping, and an impaired ability to concentrate. The studies include people exposed to radiation via experiences like using mobile phones, working in high-exposure environments, and living close to a cell phone tower.
- Another study, published in the the Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure, studied the effects of EMFs from objects such as microwaves and cell phones. The results show a clear correlation between EMFs and oxidative stress, as well as negative changes to the levels of blood antioxidant markers in humans. Both of these effects can contribute to developing cancer. The symptoms of excessive EMF exposure included an impaired ability to learn new information, cognitive impairment, headache, and extreme tiredness.
2. EMFs Are Linked to Fertility Problems in Men
In addition to causing brain changes in both genders, EMFs are linked to fertility problems in men. One pilot study found that the EMFs in mobile phones significantly decrease sperm motility and viability, concluding that EMFs from mobile phones likely cause oxidative stress in male sperm.
Therefore, men are encouraged to store their cellular devices in places other than the front pocket of their pants. The further away from sperm production, the better!
Another scientific study concluded that long-term exposure to EMFs may ultimately cause harm to the structure of male sperm cells.
Further data reveals a link between mobile phone usage and male fertility problems, as shown by men’s self-reported frequency of use of mobile phones and the quality of their semen. This data was collected from men seeking help from fertility clinics.
3. Conflicting Evidence of EMFs and Sleep Problems
Chronic EMF exposure may affect melatonin, an important hormone involved in a healthy sleep-wake cycle, leading to insomnia and dysregulating the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Specifically, this may be linked to heavy cell phone usage.
Interestingly, while there are several studies linking EMFs and reduced melatonin production, others show conflicting evidence. For example, a study published by the journal of Toxicology and Industrial Health discovered no correlation between impaired melatonin production and EMF exposure in rats. Furthermore, another study even found a “marginally statistically significant” increase in melatonin production in response to EMF exposure.
Although the evidence is conflicting, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Additionally, cell phones and laptops emit light within the blue wavelength, which does decrease melatonin production. This tricks your brain into thinking it is daytime, making it more difficult to fall asleep. It is best to keep electronics out of your bedroom altogether!
4. The EMFs from Mobile Phones May Contribute to Thyroid Problems
Your thyroid gland is one of the most important gland for regulating your overall health. It is also one of the most vulnerable glands, since it is easily damaged by toxins, nutrient deficiencies, and stress. With this in mind, it is not surprising that EMFs may cause significant impairment in proper thyroid functioning.
Remember the VGCCs that I mentioned earlier? Well, your thyroid hormones are dependent on these voltage-gated calcium channels for proper release. Consider the following studies linking EMF exposure to thyroid problems:
- One fascinating study published in the Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences measured the difference between people who worked with computers for most of the day to people whose jobs did not require them to be near a computer for the majority of the time. The researchers found that computer workers had lower levels of important thyroid stimulating hormones and zinc. (Zinc is essential for proper thyroid function.)
- The first human study of the relationship between phone usage and thyroid health found disrupted thyroid hormones among heavy mobile phone users. Further observational studies, such as one examining mobile phone use and thyroid health in medical students in South India and another one published in the Oman Medical Journal, found similar results. Studies examining the effects of EMFs on rodents observed the same results.
Currently, one in five people have a suboptimal thyroid. To learn more about thyroid health, as well as the five critical thyroid tests to have your ND run, check out “5 Signs Your Thyroid May Be to Blame.”
7 TIPS FOR REDUCING EMF EXPOSURE
While the evidence is conflicting, there are enough conclusive studies to take EMF exposure seriously. Although EMFs may not be the #1 cause of cancer or sleep problems, they may be at least partly responsible for some chronic health problems and diseases. While you cannot avoid EMFs entirely, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of radiation your body receives on a daily basis.
- Restrict sun exposure and take protective measures when you are exposed to direct sunlight. For example, apply sunscreen with SPF daily, stand in the shade when you can, and wear protective hats and sunglasses.
- Avoid unnecessary X-Rays. Make sure to ask your doctor if an X-ray is medically necessary. If not, opt to avoid unnecessary tests.
- When you can, avoid placing your laptop directly on your lap, especially if you’re male. Instead, use a “lap desk” or work at a table or desk.
- Take precautionary measures to limit the proximity of your mobile phone to your body. Do not carry your mobile phone in your clothing, such as in your bra or pants pocket. Instead, use a laptop bag or purse. Alternatively, you can be mindful of where you place your device when you are not in transit. For example, if you still choose to carry your phone in your pocket, take it out when possible and set it on a nearby surface. This at least moves it away from direct contact. If you can, use earbuds or utilize the speaker function on your phone during long phone calls.
- Keep mobile phones and laptops out of your bedroom. This will not only reduce your exposure to EMFs, but also help improve your quality of sleep.
- When choosing a home or apartment to buy, avoid homes situated in close proximity with 10,000 volt power lines. This is especially important if you have children or plan on having them, since kids are more likely to absorb EMF radiation than adults.
7. Consider turning off your WiFi router at night. Since nobody will be using the WiFi while sleeping, it makes sense to take this simple step to lower the amount of EMF waves in your home. You can even set this up to an automatic timer, which means one less thing for you to think about every night!
LEARN MORE WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR HEALTH AT THE DEMPSTER CLINIC- CENTER FOR FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE
Reducing your exposure to EMFs is just one of the many ways you can protect your health against environmental threats. For example, another way you may be unknowingly be putting yourself at undue risk for health complications is through the cleaning products in your home. Whether you are concerned specifically about your individual level of EMF exposure or you simply want to learn more ways to safeguard your health, I encourage you to reach out to me.
The Dempster Clinic- Center for Functional Medicine serves residents of Toronto and surrounding areas. As a functional medicine practitioner, I will work with you to develop an individualized healthy lifestyle plan. I offer a Complimentary 15-minute Discovery Session for all prospective patients. This session can take place over the phone or at the clinic in person. It provides an opportunity for you to learn more about the services I offer and how I can help you be as healthy as possible.
Please schedule an appointment today!
Dr. John Dempster, ND
The Dempster Clinic- Center for Functional Medicine