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22/07/2010 - July 2010 - Science Update

The following is a quick summary of another twenty papers that have come out over the last few months related to effects of electromagnetic radiation. Some of the papers are notable papers that have been published very recently, others are papers that were published a few months ago that have not yet made it to one of the Science Updates.


1. P Reyes-Guerrero G et al, (March 2010) Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields differentially regulate estrogen receptor-alpha and -beta expression in the rat olfactory bulb, Neurosci Lett. 2010 Mar 3;471(2):109-13. Epub 2010 Jan 18 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

Recently, the effects of extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF EMF) on biological systems have been extensively investigated. In this report, the influence of ELF EMF on olfactory bulb (OB) estrogen receptor-alpha (ER alpha) mRNA and -beta (ER beta) mRNA expression was studied by RT-PCR in adult female and male rats. Results reveal for the first time that ELF EMF exerted a biphasic effect on female OB ER beta mRNA gene expression, which increased during diestrous and decreased during estrous. We did not observe any influence of ELF EMF on female OB ER alpha mRNA expression. Our data demonstrate a fluctuating pattern of ER-alpha and -beta mRNA expression in the female OB throughout the phases of the estrous cycle in non-ELF EMF-exposed animals. Thus the highest ER alpha expression was observed in diestrous and the lowest in proestrous. The pattern of ER beta mRNA was less variable, the lowest expression was observed in diestrous. ER-alpha mRNA and -beta mRNA expression level in the male OB did not exhibit any variation either in ELF EMF-exposed or non-ELF EMF-exposed animals. In summary, ELF EMF modulate ER beta gene expression in the OB of female adult rats but not in males.


2. - Goudarzi I et al, (May 2010) Pulsed electromagnetic fields accelerate wound healing in the skin of diabetic rats, Bioelectromagnetics. 2010 May;31(4):318-23 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

Delayed wound healing is a common complication in diabetes mellitus. From this point of view, the main purpose of the present study is to investigate the effect of extremely low frequency pulsed electromagnetic fields (ELF PEMFs) on skin wound healing in diabetic rats. In this study, diabetes was induced in male Wistar rats via a single subcutaneous injection of 65 mg/kg streptozocin (freshly dissolved in sterile saline, 0.9%). One month after the induction of diabetes, a full-thickness dermal incision (35 mm length) was made on the right side of the paravertebral region. The wound was exposed to ELF PEMF (20 Hz, 4 ms, 8 mT) for 1 h per day. Wound healing was evaluated by measuring surface area, percentage of healing, duration of healing, and wound tensile strength. Obtained results showed that the duration of wound healing in diabetic rats in comparison with the control group was significantly increased. In contrast, the rate of healing in diabetic rats receiving PEMF was significantly greater than in the diabetic control group. The wound tensile strength also was significantly greater than the control animals. In addition, the duration of wound healing in the control group receiving PEMF was less than the sham group. Based on the above-mentioned results we concluded that this study provides some evidence to support the use of ELF PEMFs to accelerate diabetic wound healing. Further research is needed to determine the PEMF mechanisms in acceleration of wound healing in diabetic rats.


3. P Gobba F et al, (October 2009) Natural killer cell activity decreases in workers occupationally exposed to extremely low frequency magnetic fields exceeding 1 microT, Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2009 Oct-Dec;22(4):1059-66 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

In a preliminary study a reduction in natural killer (NK) cell activity in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) was observed in a group of workers exposed to levels of extremely low frequency-magnetic fields (ELF-MF) exceeding 1 microT. This study was performed to confirm the results. In 121 workers engaged in various occupational activities, individual ELF-MF exposure was monitored for 2 work shifts. Exposure levels were calculated as time-weighted average (TWA). Subjects were classified as Low exposure (TWA < or = 0.2 microT), Medium exposure (TWA 0.21-0.99 microT), or Higher exposure (TWA > or = 1 microT). In higher exposure workers NK activity proved significantly reduced compared to low exposure,(p <0.01). In medium exposure a reduction was also observed, but the difference was not significant. Multivariate analysis also confirmed the relation between exposure and NK activity. It has been suggested that ELF might affect tumour progression by inducing changes in the immune system: due to the role played by NK activity in host defence against cancer, the interference with the NK cell activity observed in this study is in agreement with this hypothesis. Furthermore, an increased risk for some neurodegenerative disorders has been reported in some epidemiological studies in ELF-MF-exposed workers: changes in NK function were also described in these diseases. Our results, showing the effect on NK activity of exposure exceeding 1 microT, suggest a possible mechanism for ELF-MF effects. This could open new horizons regarding the adverse long-term effects of these fields. Even though effects were not found significantly except in the highest exposure category (> 1 microT), this is an interesting insight into mechanistic plausibility for ELF EMFs at exposure levels far below ICNIRP basic guidance. From the perspective of public exposure however, it must be noted that very few people are routinely exposed at the higher level, with the exception of certain industrial occupations.


4. - Hirata A et al, (2010) Intercomparison of induced fields in Japanese male model for ELF magnetic field exposures: effect of different computational methods and codes, Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2010;138(3):237-44. Epub 2009 Nov 22 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

The present study provides an intercomparison of the induced quantities in a human model for uniform magnetic field exposures at extremely low frequency. A total of six research groups have cooperated in this joint intercomparison study. The computational conditions and numeric human phantom including the conductivity of tissue were set identically to focus on the uncertainty in computed fields. Differences in the maximal and 99th percentile value of the in situ electric field were less than 30 and 10 % except for the results of one group. Differences in the current density averaged over 1 cm(2) of the central nerve tissue are 10 % or less except for the results of one group. This comparison suggests that the computational uncertainty of the in situ electric field/current density due to different methods and coding is smaller than that caused by different human phantoms and the conductivitys of tissue, which was reported in a previous study.


5. P Panda NK et al, (February 2010) Audiologic disturbances in long-term mobile phone users, J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010 Feb 1;39(1):5-11 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

INTRODUCTION: There is general concern regarding the possible hazardous health effects of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation emitted from mobile phones. This study aimed to assess the effects of chronic exposure to electromagnetic waves emitted from Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) mobile phones on auditory functions. MATERIAL AND METHODS: A retrospective, cross-sectional, randomized, case control study was carried out in a tertiary care hospital. One hundred twelve subjects who were long-term mobile phone users (more than 1 year) and 50 controls who had never used a mobile phone underwent a battery of audiologic investigations including pure-tone audiometry (both speech and high frequency), tympanometry, distortion product otoacoustic emissions, auditory brain responses, and middle latency responses. Changes in the various parameters were studied in the mobile phone- and non-mobile phone-using ears of subjects and corresponding ears of the controls to ascertain the effects of electromagnetic exposure. RESULTS: There was no significant difference between users and controls for any of the audiologic parameters. However, trends for audiologic abnormalities were seen within the users. High-frequency loss and absent distortion product otoacoustic emissions were observed with an increase in the duration of mobile phone use, excessive use of mobile phones, and age more than 30 years. Additionally, users with some complaints during mobile phone use demonstrated absent distortion product otoacoustic emissions and abnormalities in auditory brainstem response. CONCLUSION: Long-term and intensive mobile phone use may cause inner ear damage. A large sample size would be required to reach definitive conclusions.


6. N Chen C et al, (February 2010) Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields exposure and female breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis based on 24,338 cases and 60,628 controls, Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2010 Feb 10. [Epub ahead of print] [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

Exposure to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) has been suggested to increase female breast cancer risk; however, the data have been inconclusive. In order to derive a more precise estimation of the relationship, a meta-analysis was performed. Medline, PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Library and Web of Science were searched. Crude ORs with 95% CIs were used to assess the strength of association between ELF-EMF exposure and female breast cancer risk. A total of 15 studies published over the period 2000 to 2009 including 24,338 cases and 60,628 controls were involved in this meta-analysis. The results showed no significant association between ELF-EMF exposure and female breast cancer risk in total analysis (OR = 0.988, 95% CI = 0.898-1.088) and in all the subgroup analyses by exposure modes, menopausal status, and estrogen receptor status. This result is in accordance with the previous meta-analysis carried out by Erren in 2000. In conclusion, this meta-analysis suggests that ELF-EMF exposure has no association with the susceptibility of female breast cancer. This is a very data heavy meta-analysis presenting strong evidence of a lack of association between ELF EMFs and breast cancer.


7. P Soderqvist F et al, (2010) Radiofrequency fields, transthyretin, and Alzheimer's disease, J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20(2):599-606 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

Radiofrequency field (RF) exposure provided cognitive benefits in an animal study. In Alzheimer's disease (AD) mice, exposure reduced brain amyloid-beta (Abeta) deposition through decreased aggregation of Abeta and increase in soluble Abeta levels. Based on our studies on humans on RF from wireless phones, we propose that transthyretin (TTR) might explain the findings. In a cross-sectional study on 313 subjects, we used serum TTR as a marker of cerebrospinal fluid TTR. We found a statistically significantly positive beta coefficient for TTR for time since first use of mobile phones and desktop cordless phones combined (P=0.03). The electromagnetic field parameters were similar for the phone types. In a provocation study on 41 persons exposed for 30 min to an 890-MHz GSM signal with specific absorption rate of 1.0 Watt/kg to the temporal area of the brain, we found statistically significantly increased serum TTR 60 min after exposure. In our cross-sectional study, use of oral snuff also yielded statistically significantly increased serum TTR concentrations and nicotine has been associated with decreased risk for AD and to upregulate the TTR gene in choroid plexus but not in the liver, another source of serum TTR. TTR sequesters Abeta, thereby preventing the formation of Abeta plaques in the brain. Studies have shown that patients with AD have lowered TTR concentrations in the cerebrospinal fluid and have attributed the onset of AD to insufficient sequestering of Abeta by TTR. We propose that TTR might be involved in the findings of RF exposure benefit in AD mice. A followup to an earlier paper also by Söderqvist and Hardell, this paper assessed the possible findings that hit the national papers last year discussing how mobile phones could help prevent Alzheimer's, and offered mechanistic possibilities of how these findings could have come about.


8. N Akdag MZ et al, (February 2010) Effects of Extremely Low-Frequency Magnetic Field on Caspase Activities and Oxidative Stress Values in Rat Brain, Biol Trace Elem Res. 2010 Feb 23. [Epub ahead of print] [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

This study was aimed to investigate the effect of extremely low-frequency magnetic field (ELF-MF) on apoptosis and oxidative stress values in the brain of rat. Rats were exposed to 100 and 500 microT ELF-MF, which are the safety standards of public and occupational exposure for 2 h/day for 10 months. Brain tissues were immunohistochemically stained for the active (cleaved) caspase-3 in order to measure the apoptotic index by a semi-quantitative scoring system. In addition, the levels of catalase (CAT), malondialdehyde (MDA), myeloperoxidase (MPO), total antioxidative capacity (TAC), total oxidant status (TOS), and oxidative stress index (OSI) were measured in rat brain. Final score of apoptosis and MPO activity were not significantly different between the groups. CAT activity decreased in both exposure groups (p < 0.05), while TAC was found to be lower in ELF 500 group than those in ELF-100 and sham groups (p < 0.05). MDA, TOS, and OSI values were found to be higher in ELF-500 group than those in ELF-100 and sham groups (p < 0.05). In conclusion, apoptosis was not changed by long-term ELF-MF exposure, while both 100 and 500 microT ELF-MF exposure induced toxic effect in the rat brain by increasing oxidative stress and diminishing antioxidant defense system.


9. P Bernabo N et al, (June 2010) Extremely low frequency electromagnetic field exposure affects fertilization outcome in swine animal model, Theriogenology. 2010 Jun;73(9):1293-305. Epub 2010 Feb 21 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

Modern society continuously exposes the population to electromagnetic radiation, the effects of which on human health, in particular reproduction, are still unknown. The aim of this research was to assess the effect of acute (1h) exposure of boar spermatozoa to a 50 Hz extremely low frequency electromagnetic field (ELF-EMF) on early fertility outcome. The effect of intensities ranging from 0 to 2 mT on morpho-functional integrity of capacitated spermatozoa was examined in vitro. The oviducts containing or without spermatozoa were then exposed to the minimum in vivo, TD(50,) and maximum intensities determined in vitro, 4h before ovulation. The effects of ELF-EMF on spermatozoa in terms of early embryo development were evaluated after 12h and 6 days. It was found that in vitro ELF-EMF > 0.5 mT induced a progressive acrosome damage, thus compromising the ability of spermatozoa to undergo acrosomal reaction after zona pellucida stimulation and reducing the in vitro fertilization outcome. These effects became evident at 0.75 mT and reached the plateau at 1 mT. Under in vivo conditions, the ELF-EMF intensity of 1 mT was able to compromise sperm function, significantly reducing the fertilization rate. In addition, the exposure of oviducts to fields > or = 0.75 mT in the absence of spermatozoa was able to negatively affect early embryo development. In fact, it was found to cause a slowdown in the embryo cleavage. In conclusion, it was demonstrated how and at which intensities ELF-EMF negatively affect early fertility outcome in a highly predictive animal model.


10. P Celikler S et al, (December 2009) A biomonitoring study of genotoxic risk to workers of transformers and distribution line stations, Int J Environ Health Res. 2009 Dec;19(6):421-30 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

A cytogenetic monitoring study was carried out on a group of workers from transformer and distribution line stations in the Bursa province of Turkey, to investigate the genotoxic risk of occupational exposure to extremely low frequency electric (ELF) and magnetic fields (EMF). Cytogenetic analysis, namely chromosomal aberrations (CAs) and micronucleus (MN) tests were performed on a strictly selected group of 55 workers and compared to 17 controls. CA and MN frequencies in electrical workers appeared significantly higher than in controls (p < 0.001, 0.05, respectively). The frequency of CA in exposed groups were significantly enhanced with the years of exposure (p < 0.01). The effect of smoking on the level of CA and MN was not significant in the control and exposure groups. The results of this study demonstrated that a significant induction of cytogenetic damage in peripheral lymphocytes of workers engaged to occupational exposure to ELMF in electric transformer and distribution stations. Actual exposures of the workers were not taken, nor were the sample sizes very large, but this paper still shows a large level of statistical significance between occupationally exposed workers in Turkey and genotoxic effects. The paper has too many unanswerable questions to be at all definitive in its own right, but it is worthy of followup - a questionnaire that would help assess what other potentially genotoxic agents the workers may be routinely exposed to is important, as is ELF EMF exposure measurements and a larger sample size of cases and controls.


11. - Fang M, Malone D, (April 2010) Experimental verification of a radiofrequency power model for Wi-Fi technology, Health Phys. 2010 Apr;98(4):574-83 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

When assessing the power emitted from a Wi-Fi network, it has been observed that these networks operate at a relatively low duty cycle. In this paper, we extend a recently introduced model of emitted power in Wi-Fi networks to cover conditions where devices do not always have packets to transmit. We present experimental results to validate the original model and its extension by developing approximate, but practical, testbed measurement techniques. The accuracy of the models is confirmed, with small relative errors: less than 5-10%. Moreover, we confirm that the greatest power is emitted when the network is saturated with traffic. Using this, we give a simple technique to quickly estimate power output based on traffic levels and give examples showing how this might be used in practice to predict current or future power output from a Wi-Fi network.


12. - Habash RW et al, (April 2009) Recent advances in research on radiofrequency fields and health: 2004-2007, J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2009 Apr;12(4):250-88 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

The widespread use of wireless telecommunications devices, particularly mobile phones and wireless networks, has resulted in increased human exposure to radiofrequency (RF) fields. Although national and international agencies have established safety guidelines for exposure to RF fields, concerns remain about the potential for adverse health outcomes to occur in relation to RF field exposure. The extensive literature on RF fields and health was reviewed by a number of authorities, including the Royal Society of Canada (1999). This report is the third in a series of updates to the original report of the Royal Society of Canada, covering the period 2004-2007. In particular, the present study examined new data on (1) dosimetry and exposure assessment, (2) biological effects of RF fields such as enzyme induction, and (3) toxicological effects, including genotoxicity and carcinogenicity. Epidemiological studies of the potential health effects of RF exposure, particularly from mobile phones, were determined, along with human and animal studies of neurological and behavioural effects. Within the last 4 yrs investigators concluded that there is no clear evidence of adverse health effects associated with RF fields, although continued research is recommended to address specific areas of concern, including exposure to RF fields among children using mobile phones. The results of the ongoing 13-country World Health Organization INTERPHONE study of mobile phones may provide important new information on the potential cancer risks associated with mobile phone use. This paper is slightly late for us to feature, and offers relatively little, although the content has more meat than the abstract. It is a clear statement that there is evidence of a number of potential issues from RF radiation, none of which have yet provided convincing evidence of harm, yet at the same are sufficient to promote caution and further research.


13. N van Rongen E et al, (October 2009) Effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields on the human nervous system, J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2009 Oct;12(8):572-97 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

The effects of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (EMF), specifically related to the use of mobile telephones, on the nervous system in humans have been the subject of a large number of experimental studies in recent years. There is some evidence of an effect of exposure to a Global System for Mobile Telecommunication (GSM)-type signal on the spontaneous electroencephalogram (EEG). This is not corroborated, however, by the results from studies on evoked potentials. Although there is some evidence emerging that there may be an effect of exposure to a GSM-type signal on sleep EEG, results are still variable. In summary, exposure to a GSM-type signal may result in minor effects on brain activity, but such changes have never been found to relate to any adverse health effects. No consistent significant effects on cognitive performance in adults have been observed. If anything, any effect is small and exposure seems to improve performance. Effects in children did not differ from those in healthy adults. Studies on auditory and vestibular function are more unequivocal: neither hearing nor the sense of balance is influenced by short-term exposure to mobile phone signals. Subjective symptoms over a wide range, including headaches and migraine, fatigue, and skin itch, have been attributed to various radiofrequency sources both at home and at work. However, in provocation studies a causal relation between EMF exposure and symptoms has never been demonstrated. There are clear indications, however, that psychological factors such as the conscious expectation of effect may play an important role in this condition.


14. N Takahashi S et al, (March 2010) Lack of adverse effects of whole-body exposure to a mobile telecommunication electromagnetic field on the rat fetus, Radiat Res. 2010 Mar;173(3):362-72 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

Abstract The recent steep increase in the number of users of cellular phones is resulting in marked increase of exposure of humans to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Children are of particular concern. Our goal was to evaluate potential adverse effects of long-term whole-body exposure to EMFs simulating those from base stations for cellular phone communication. Pregnant rats were given low, high or no exposure. At the high level, the average specific absorption rate (SAR)for the dams was 0.066-0.093 W/kg. The SAR for the fetuses and the F(1) progeny was 0.068-0.146 W/kg. At the low level, the SARs were about 43% of these. The 2.14 GHz signals were applied for 20 h per day during the gestation and lactation periods. No abnormal findings were observed in either the dams or the F(1) generation exposed to the EMF or in the F(2) offspring. Parameters evaluated included growth, gestational condition and organ weights for dams and survival rates, development, growth, physical and functional development, hormonal status, memory function and reproductive ability of the F(1) offspring (at 10 weeks of age) along with embryotoxicity and teratogenicity in the F(2) rats. Thus, under our experimental conditions, whole-body exposure to 2.14 GHz for 20 h per day during gestation and lactation did not cause any adverse effects on pregnancy or the development of rats. Having not looked at the exposure system details, it is not clear exactly how well simulated the exposure was (with regards to dummy traffic and the signal waveforms themselves), but both the frequency and the electric field strengths are appropriate for typical exposure to a mobile phone base station.


15. - Verloock L et al, (April 2010) Procedure for assessment of general public exposure from WLAN in offices and in wireless sensor network testbed, Health Phys. 2010 Apr;98(4):628-38 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

A fast and accurate measurement procedure to determine experimentally wireless local area network (WLAN) radiofrequency (RF) exposure and to test compliance with international guidelines for the general public is proposed. This is the first paper where all optimal settings for the measurement equipment (sweep time, resolution bandwidth, etc.) are investigated, selected, and validated. The exposure to WLAN access points is determined for 222 locations with 7 WLAN networks present in office environments. The WLAN exposure is also characterized for the first time in a wireless sensor lab environment (WiLab) at IBBT-Ghent University in Belgium. Average background exposure to WLAN (WiLab off) is 0.12 V m(-1), with a 95 percentile of 0.90 V m(-1). With the WiLab in operation, average exposure increases to 1.9 V m(-1), with a 95 percentile of 4.7 V m(-1). All values are well below the International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection guidelines of 61 V m(-1) in the 2.4 GHz band (at least 9.1 times for distances of more than 1 m from the access points) but a significant increase of exposure is possible in WiLabs due to high duty cycles. By applying the proposed measurement method a relevant reduction in measurement time is obtained. With evidence of health effects surfacing at levels of 0.6 V/m, this dosimetric study evaluation average exposures is concerning. Background levels around 1 V/m 5% of the time are slightly unwanted, but with the WiLab system enabled background levels averaging at 2 V/m there seems to be a possible reason for concern. It would be interesting to perform a pilot health study of those working in such an environment regularly as compared to working in the laboratory with the system disabled.


16. P Girgert R et al, (April 2010) Signal transduction of the melatonin receptor MT1 is disrupted in breast cancer cells by electromagnetic fields, Bioelectromagnetics. 2010 Apr;31(3):237-45 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

The growth of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer cells is inhibited by the pineal gland hormone, melatonin. Concern has been raised that power-line frequency and microwave electromagnetic fields (EMFs) could reduce the efficiency of melatonin on breast cancer cells. In this study we investigated the impact of EMFs on the signal transduction of the high-affinity receptor MT1 in parental MCF-7 cells and MCF-7 cells transfected with the MT1 gene. The binding of the cAMP-responsive element binding (CREB) protein to a promoter sequence of BRCA-1 after stimulation with melatonin was analyzed by a gel-shift assay and the expression of four estrogen-responsive genes was measured in sham-exposed breast cancer cells and cells exposed to a sinusoidal 50 Hz EMF of 1.2 microT for 48 h. In sham-exposed cells, binding of CREB to the promoter of BRCA-1 was increased by estradiol and subsequently diminished by treatment with melatonin. In cells exposed to 1.2 microT, 50 Hz EMF, binding of CREB was almost completely omitted. Expression of BRCA-1, p53, p21(WAF), and c-myc was increased by estradiol stimulation and subsequently decreased by melatonin treatment in both cell lines, except for p53 expression in the transfected cell line, thereby proving the antiestrogenic effect of melatonin at molecular level. In contrast, in breast cancer cells transfected with MT1 exposed to 1.2 microT of the 50 Hz EMF, the expression of p53 and c-myc increased significantly after melatonin treatment but for p21(WAF) the increase was not significant. These results convincingly prove the negative effect of EMF on the antiestrogenic effect of melatonin in breast cancer cells. Melatonin is recognised as a very important free radical scavenger in the human immune system, and is one of the better supported theories as to why night workers have elevated risks of a number of cancers. Although the levels in this study are higher than the majority of the public are routinely exposed to, it is in vitro support of a strong negative effect from exposure to ELF EMFs that could have an impact on melatonin, and indirectly cancer risk.


17. P Li DK et al, (January 2010) Exposure to magnetic fields and the risk of poor sperm quality, Reprod Toxicol. 2010 Jan;29(1):86-92. Epub 2009 Nov 6 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

We conducted a population-based case-control study among healthy sperm donors to study exposure to magnetic fields (MFs) and poor sperm quality. All participants wore a meter to capture daily MF exposure. After controlling for confounders, compared to those with lower MF exposure, those whose 90th percentile MF level > or = 1.6mG had a two-fold increased risk of abnormal sperm motility and morphology (odds ratio (OR): 2.0, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.0-3.9). Increasing duration of MF exposure above 1.6 mG further increased the risk (p=0.03 for trend test). Importantly, the association and dose-response relationship were strengthened when restricted to those whose measurement day reflected their typical day of the previous 3 months (a likely period of spermatogenesis). Age-adjusted Spearman Rank Order Correlations showed an inverse correlation between MF exposure and all semen parameters. Our study provides some evidence for the first time that MF exposure may have an adverse effect on sperm quality. This study is potentially very important, and funding to replicate it should be considered a high priority. There are a number of papers showing effects from RF on male fertility, from in vitro experiments on human sperm to live animal experiments on rats, but this is the first we are aware finding effects from ELF magnetic fields, and at levels where the public are exposed reasonably frequently.


18. - Blair A et al, (December 2009) Epidemiology, public health, and the rhetoric of false positives, Environ Health Perspect. 2009 Dec;117(12):1809-13. Epub 2009 Oct 7 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

BACKGROUND: As an observational science, epidemiology is regarded by some researchers as inherently flawed and open to false results. In a recent paper, Boffetta et al. [Boffetta P, McLaughlin JK, LaVecchia C, Tarone RE, Lipworth L, Blot WJ. False-positive results in cancer epidemiology: a plea for epistemological modesty. J Natl Cancer Inst 100:988-995 (2008)] argued that "epidemiology is particularly prone to the generation of false-positive results." They also said "the tendency to emphasize and over-interpret what appear to be new findings is commonplace, perhaps in part because of a belief that the findings provide information that may ultimately improve public health" and that "this tendency to hype new findings increases the likelihood of downplaying inconsistencies within the data or any lack of concordance with other sources of evidence." The authors supported these serious charges against epidemiology and epidemiologists with few examples. Although we acknowledge that false positives do occur, we view the position of Boffetta and colleagues on false positives as unbalanced and potentially harmful to public health. OBJECTIVE: We aim to provide a more balanced evaluation of epidemiology and its contribution to public health discourse. DISCUSSION: Boffetta and colleagues ignore the fact that false negatives may arise from the very processes that they tout as generating false-positive results. We further disagree with their proposition that false-positive results from a single study will lead to faulty decision making in matters of public health importance. In practice, such public health evaluations are based on all the data available from all relevant disciplines and never to our knowledge on a single study. CONCLUSIONS: The lack of balance by Boffetta and colleagues in their evaluation of the impact of false-positive findings on epidemiology, the charge that "methodological vigilance is often absent" in epidemiologists' interpretation of their own results, and the false characterization of how epidemiologic findings are used in societal decision making all undermine a major source of information regarding disease risks. We reaffirm the importance of epidemiologic evidence as a critical component of the foundation of public health protection. This is an extremely important paper, strongly supporting the value of epidemiology in health science against opposition from authors who were claiming that the nature of false positives at over-representing danger meant that epidemiological studies led to poor public health decisions. It is worth bearing in mind that many of the big health findings this century (such as smoking and lung cancer) was discovered almost entirely on the strength of the epidemiology. A group of clinicians also made an excellent response in the debate, including an observation that public health policy decision makers are aware of the short-comings of epidemiological science and don't make unwarranted decisions based on single studies.


19. P Soderqvist F et al, (August 2009) Exposure to an 890-MHz mobile phone-like signal and serum levels of S100B and transthyretin in volunteers, Toxicol Lett. 2009 Aug 25;189(1):63-6. Epub 2009 May 7 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

Whether low-intensity non-thermal microwave radiation alters the integrity of the blood-brain barrier has been debated since the late 1970s, yet no experimental study has been carried out on humans. The aim of this study was to test, using peripheral markers, whether exposure to a mobile phone-like signal alters the integrity of the human blood-brain and blood-cerebrospinal fluid barriers. A provocation study was carried out that exposed 41 volunteers to a 30 min GSM 890 MHz signal with an average specific energy absorption rate distribution of 1.0 W/kg in the temporal area of the head as measured over any 1g of contiguous tissue. The outcome was assessed by changes in serum concentrations of two putative markers of brain barrier integrity, S100B and transthyretin. Repeated blood sampling before and after the provocation showed no statistically significant increase in the serum levels of S100B, while for transthyretin a statistically significant increase was seen in the final blood sample 60 min after the end of the provocation as compared to the prior sample taken immediately after provocation (p=0.02). The clinical significance of this finding, if any, is unknown. Further randomized studies with use of additional more brain specific markers are needed. Another paper from Fredik Söderqvist and team, also looking at the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barriers, shows more possible mechanistic effects from mobile phone usage that could help to explain some of the health effects that have been purported from their use.


20. P Saito T et al, (2010) Power-frequency magnetic fields and childhood brain tumors: a case-control study in Japan, J Epidemiol. 2010;20(1):54-61. Epub 2009 Nov 14 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]
 

BACKGROUND: The strength of the association between brain tumors in children and residential power-frequency magnetic fields (MF) has varied in previous studies, which may be due in part to possible misclassification of MF exposure. This study aimed to examine this association in Japan by improving measurement techniques, and by extending measurement to a whole week. METHODS: This population-based case-control study encompassed 54% of Japanese children under 15 years of age. After excluding ineligible targeted children, 55 newly diagnosed brain tumor cases and 99 sex-, age-, and residential area-matched controls were included in the analyses. The MF exposures of each set of matching cases and controls were measured in close temporal proximity to control for seasonal variation; the average difference was 12.4 days. The mean interval between diagnosis and MF measurements was 1.1 years. The weekly mean MF level was defined as the exposure. The association was evaluated using conditional logistic regression analysis that controlled for possible confounding factors. RESULTS: The odds ratios (95% CI) for exposure categories of 0.1 to 0.2, 0.2 to 0.4, and above 0.4 microT, against a reference category of < 0.1 microT, were 0.74 (0.17-3.18), 1.58 (0.25-9.83), and 10.9 (1.05-113), respectively, after adjusting for maternal education. This dose-response pattern was stable when other variables were included in the model as possible confounding factors. CONCLUSIONS: A positive association was found between high-level exposure-above 0.4 microT-and the risk of brain tumors. This association could not be explained solely by confounding factors or selection bias. This paper demonstrates both a significant increase at 0.4 microT, and a possible sign of an exposure response relationship, for power frequency magnetic fields and child brain tummours, at a level where public exposure can be found on a regular basis. Having controlled for both confounders and, importantly, selection bias (one of the biggest criticisms of the powerlines / CL link is selection bias in the control group(s)), this is yet another piece of evidence showing signs of ELF magnetic field carcinogenicity.