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Invisible agents of chronic illness

The technology boom has created an unprecedented load of electromagnetic field (EMF) sources.  Increasingly, EMF exposure is linked to unexplained illness with most severely affected defined as electromagnetic hypersensitive, or EHS. Could EMFs be triggering your fatigue, headaches or even  infertility?  Call us to arrange a personalised assessment on 07 55301863.

With the widespread availability and use of wireless technology we are now exposed to EMF emissions at varying frequencies and strengths for extended durations 1, and there are increasing concerns being raised about the effects of these emissions on our health. This is especially concerning for young people, who have up to ten times greater electrical absorption through their skull’s bone marrow than adults 3. This article explores some of these health effects and ways to minimise the impact of wireless technology.

According to an Australian Government report in 2012, there are over 8.67 million mobile phones owners in Australia4.  Mobile phones use low powered radio transmitters that emit radiofrequency electromagnetic energy to communicate with a base station, and while leading authorities including the World Health Organisation (WHO) are yet to identify solid human evidence, they have not completely ruled out the effects of these electromagnetic field (EMF) emissions on our health 5.

In 2012 the prominent Australian neurosurgeon Charlie Teo wrote on The Punch:

“There are three undisputed facts about the link between mobile phones and brain tumours. Firstly, the jury is still out. Secondly, the number of mobile phone users is increasing rapidly and currently stands at over five billion worldwide. Thirdly, IF there is a causal link between exposure to non-ionising radiation and brain tumours, then the social and financial consequences would be devastating and on a scale never before witnessed in history. I see 10 to 20 new patients each week and at least one third of those patients’ tumours are in the area of the brain around the ear. As a neurosurgeon I cannot ignore this fact.”6

While scientific evidence is still emerging in this area, research on the effects of continual exposure to EMF’s appearing systemically is continuing to be explored.

EMF’s & Neurological Effects

Oxidative stress from EMF exposure have been noted in the brain and may be responsible for the initiation of numerous neurological effects including headaches, changes in sleep pattern, and disturbances of neurotransmitter release 7. (depression, anxiety)

Brain metabolic and neuronal activity can be assessed through brain glucose metabolism.  In a study of 47 healthy participants, neuronal activity was measured with 50 minutes of mobile phone use.  The authors concluded that brain glucose metabolism in the area closest to the antenna was significantly higher8.  This result of increased neuronal activity from EMF exposure has been hypothesized in numerous in vivo and in vitro studies by changes in cell membrane permeability, calcium efflux, cell excitability, and / or neurotransmitter release 9 and blood-brain barrier integrity 10. [We need to question the relationship here to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, both of which have been linked to increased brain glucose]

EMF’S & Endocrine Effects

Beyond the impact of EMF’s on neurological function, the endocrine system has also been identified as being sensitive to the influence of EMFs. In males, EMF exposure from mobile phones were shown to have negative effects on sperm motility 11,12, semen quality, sperm count and normal morphology 13and an increased oxidative stress14. While in women whose primary residence was within 50 metres from low frequency EMF sources reported lower average birth weights 15. In female animal models there was a significant reduction in ovarian weight, decreased lutenizing, follicular stimulating and estrogen hormones with prolonged EMF exposure, which returned to normal once exposure was removed 16. Other animal models have found varying outcomes with EMF exposure on thyroid health17 and adrenal function 18-21, and in a study assessing 100 participants for EMF exposure, followed for 6 years were found to have significantly decreased levels of ACTH, cortisol and thyroid hormone levels22.

Inflammation & Oxidative Stress

Recently it has been suggested that a possible early biological response to EMF exposure is the formation and prolonged survival of reactive oxygen species and other free radicals 23, and a significant increase in inflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha, IL-6 and IL-1beta and production of nitric oxide24. Beyond the brain, tissues shown to have greater EMF absorption include the detoxification organs – liver, lung and kidneys, and decreased liver enzyme activity 1, adding to the environmental toxin burden experienced in our patients.

Naturopathic Support

Neutralizing the detrimental effects of oxidative stress from EMF exposure involves a robust prescription inclusive of herbs and nutrients which specifically target our body’s endogenous antioxidant pathways and supporting detoxification organs.

Simple tips to reduce exposure

  • Use speakerphone or a headset when talking on your phone. Wireless and wired headsets emit less EMF energy than talking directly into the phone.
  • Send text messages instead of talking on the phone
  • If you are streaming or downloading, try to keep the phone away from your head and body
  • Carry your mobile in a backpack, briefcase or handbag NOT in a pocket, bra or belt holster
  • Don’t sleep with your phone in your bed or near your head
  • Take off the headset when you’re not on a call (CDPH How to reduce exposure to radiofrequency energy from cell phones) 2