Sunday, November 18, 2012

Electromagnetic Fields and Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

“There is a strong evidence that EMFs and radio/microwave frequencies are associated with accelerated aging (enhanced cell death and cancer) and moods, depression, suicide, anger, rage and violence, primarily through alteration of cellular calcium ions and the melatonin/serotonin balance.”

~Dr. Neil Cherry of Lincoln University, New Zealand

In the Modern World, when each household in the developed countries possesses multiple electronic devices, like cellular phones, personal computers, and other numerous electronic gadgets, the general public seems to be concerned about the potential health risks of long-term electromagnetic radiation exposure on the human health and well-being.

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In 1995, for the first time, the public attention was drawn to the possible link between electromagnetic radiation and risks of Alzheimer's disease development, following a landmark publication in the American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers from the University of Southern California School of Medicine. After thorough investigation, the researchers confirmed a direct substantial causal relationship between occupations, exposing individuals to higher levels of electromagnetic radiation, and the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Their report, published in the December 1996 issue of Neurology, revealed a sizeable increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in individuals whose occupations exposed them to higher than average levels of electromagnetic radiation. The occupations determined to be "high risk" with respect to exposure included electrician, machinist, machine operator, seamstress, sewing factory worker, sheet metal worker, typist, keypunch operator, welder, machine shop worker, and several others. The danger of developing Alzheimer's disease in these individuals was calculated to be as much as fourfold higher than the general population. Subjects evaluated were at least 65 years of age at the time of their first examination and their recorded occupations reflected what they had been doing up to 40 years prior to their evaluation and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. It is critical to acknowledge the fact that the data used in this research reflected levels of electromagnetic exposure long before our population began using "cell phones," personal computers, and the like.

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Some other following studies supported previous notions that the risk of Alzheimer ’s disease may be directly linked to exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF). While the majority of studies has been done in relation to occupational exposures, the first study on residential exposures has been conducted in Switzerland suggesting an increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease among people living close to high-voltage power lines. Based on these findings, the European Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) has classified ELF magnetic fields an Alzheimer ’s disease as a high priority for further research.

Doctors at the Institute of Social and Preventative Medicine at Bern University used census and mortality data from 4.7 million Swiss to investigate all deaths between the years 2000 and 2005. Using a proportional hazard model, they found that people who lived within 50 meters of high voltage electricity lines were more likely to die from Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia. "Whoever lives within the immediate vicinity of high voltage power lines for more than ten years has a significantly higher risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease," said Matthias Egger, the Institute's head.

And, finally, a 2007 meta-analysis of the studies done on occupational links to Alzheimer’s was conducted by Ana Garcia of the University of Valencia, Spain. She reported that the combined data from 14 different occupational studies showed that, in general, being exposed to EMFs on the job doubled the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. 

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Mechanism of Action

The general theory of while Electromagnetic Fields around may influence your body health and well-being, is more or less clear. Artificial EMFs change the frequency of your body's electromagnetic fields through a process called entrainment (or sympathetic resonance). Entrainment is the tendency of an object to vibrate at the same frequency as something outside of it. In other words, powerful artificial EMFs overwhelm your body’s own electrical fields, changing their frequency and distorting the balance of the body's electromagnetic field and its communication systems. This causes physical, mental and emotional chaos.

The danger doesn’t always pass once you get away from the strong electromagnetic field. That’s because biological systems have been proven to store electromagnetic radiation within the cells in the form of electromagnetic oscillations. These oscillations can stubbornly remain inside you, wreaking havoc with your body’s most important processes.

Compounding this problem, metallic objects all around us act as antennae. These include electrical circuits, telephone wiring, water and gas pipes, even your keys and jewelry, which collect and re-radiate these disorienting energy waves.

The highest frequency energy waves (X-rays, gamma rays and others) can break chemical and molecular bonds, and can literally rip atoms apart, disrupting the basic biochemical structures of life. The healthy human body resonates at around 10 hertz. Frequencies above that create biological stress, tissue damage and serious health problems.

While the potential danger is obvious, the particular effect of the electromagnetic fields on the body functions in general, and for Alzheimer ’s disease development, in particular, is still pretty much in a dark. Several authors have indicated that the electromagnetic radiation produced by electronic equipment enhances the formation of beta amyloid, a protein known to be prevalent in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Exactly how electromagnetic radiation increases beta amyloid is unclear, but it is obvious that this protein enhances brain inflammation, now known to be the primary cause of brain degeneration in this disease.

In one of the recently published papers, the researchers from Alzheimer's disease Treatment and Diagnostic Center at Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center in Downey, suggested that increased exposure could change the balance of calcium in some cells in the body causing increased production of a beta amyloid . This protein is secreted from cells into the bloodstream.

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Controversial Results

The latest 2010 study led by University of South Florida researchers and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, has provided absolutely unexpected, surprising outcomes, conflicting with the previous results.

“It surprised us to find that cell phone exposure, begun in early adulthood, protects the memory of mice otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer’s symptoms,” said lead author Gary Arendash, PhD, Research Professor at the Florida ADRC. “It was even more astonishing that the electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones actually reversed memory impairment in old Alzheimer’s mice.”

The researchers showed that exposing old Alzheimer’s mice to electromagnetic waves generated by cell phones erased brain deposits of the harmful protein beta-amyloid, in addition to preventing the protein’s build-up in younger Alzheimer’s mice. The sticky brain plaques formed by the abnormal accumulation of beta amyloid are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Most treatments against Alzheimer’s try to target beta-amyloid.

The highly-controlled study allowed researchers to isolate the effects of cell phone exposure on memory from other lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise. It involved 96 mice, most of which were genetically altered to develop beta-amyloid plaques and memory problems mimicking Alzheimer’s disease as they aged. Some mice were non-demented, without any genetic predisposition for Alzheimer’s, so researchers could test the effects of electromagnetic waves on normal memory as well.

The researchers found a slight increase in brain temperature during the two one-hour periods when mice were exposed to electromagnetic waves each day. This increase in brain temperature was seen only in the Alzheimer’s mice, and only after months of exposure. The researchers suggest the increase in brain temperature helped the Alzheimer’s brain to remove newly-formed beta-amyloid by causing brain cells to release it.

The researchers were particularly surprised to discover that months of cell phone exposure actually boosted the memory of non-demented (normal mice) to above-normal levels. They suspect that the main reason for this improvement involves the ability of electromagnetic exposure to increase brain activity, promoting greater blood flow and increased energy metabolism in the brain. “Our study provides evidence that long-term cell phone use is not harmful to brain,” Dr. Cao said. “To the contrary, the electromagnetic waves emitted by cell phones could actually improve normal memory and be an effective therapy against memory impairment”

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Perhaps because influences like electromagnetic radiation and toxic chemicals in the environment cannot be seen or perceived, there was always certain reluctance by mainstream medicine to recognize potential health risks associated with these factors. And the latest studies supported the critics’ viewpoint that the data is still inconclusive.

The additional research is needed to confirm and validate the outcomes of linking Alzheimer’s risk to the environmental and household exposure to the electromagnetic fields with further elaboration on the frequency and magnitude of the levels, dangerous for the health.

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