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25/09/2008 - September 2008 - Scientific Update

The following is a quick summary of another nine papers that have come out recently related to effects of electromagnetic radiation.

1. P Palumbo R et al, (September 2008) Exposure to 900 MHz Radiofrequency Radiation Induces Caspase 3 Activation in Proliferating Human Lymphocytes, Radiat Res. 2008 Sep;170(3):327-34 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

Researchers from Italy have found limited, but statistically significant, cellular effects on human cells in vitro from 1 hour exposure to a 900 MHz GSM signal at 1.35 W/kg. There were a number of exposures and effects that were analysed and failed to show any result, so these results should be treated with caution. However, it is more research finding cellular, athermal effects from sub-ICNIRP RF radiation, and effects on cells involved in cancer processes.

2. N Furubayashi T et al, (September 2008) Effects of short-term W-CDMA mobile phone base station exposure on women with or without mobile phone related symptoms, Bioelectromagnetics. 2008 Sep 8. [Epub ahead of print] [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

The latest ES research from Japan has failed to show any significant differences between sensitive and and non-sensitive participants in a double-blinded provocation study. Both groups were unable to detect whether a true exposure was present, and whilst the control group suffered no subjective discomfort on either real or sham exposure, the sensitive group suffered equally increased discomfort in both circumstances, regardless of exposure. This potentially supports the premise that at least some of the physiological discomfort, whilst clearly real, may have some level of psychological initiation. This paper will be covered in greater detail once we have examined the selection process used to identify "sensitive" individuals.

3. N Poulletier de Gannes F et al, (September 2008) Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and extremely-low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields: a study in the SOD-1 transgenic mouse model, Amyotroph Lateral Scler. 2008 Sep 1:1-4. [Epub ahead of print]Click here to read [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

A paper has just been published by a French team from the University of Bordeaux investigating the possibility of a mouse model for ALS from exposure to ELF EMFs. They were unable to find any evidence of the association and their mouse model, but were exposing the animals to 0.1 - 1 mT, which is orders of magnitude higher than typical human residual exposure, and therefore this research may be irrelevant to research finding an increased risk in humans.

4. - Landgrebe M et al, (July 2008) Neuronal correlates of symptom formation in functional somatic syndromes: a fMRI study, Neuroimage. 2008 Jul 15;41(4):1336-44 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

This latest paper by Landgrebe et al clearly demonstrates that there is a very real psychological concern when subjectively sensitive subjects are aware that they may be about to undergo a real exposure, which may well manifest itself as a physiological response. If this is true, then it may potentially be a significant confounder in assessing a true response to EMF exposure in double blind provocation studies. It may be necessary to fundamentally adjust the testing methodology of these trials in a way that the participant has no idea if and when an exposure may start. The act of being aware of a potential exposure seems to be a trigger in and by itself. This is something that has not been controlled for in most double blind trials to date.

5. - Vanderstraeten J, Verschaeve L, (September 2008) Gene and protein expression following exposure to radiofrequency fields from mobile phones, Environ Health Perspect. 2008 Sep;116(9):1131-5 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

A recent Belgian study has looked at a subset of the papers analysing the effect of RF radiation on gene and protein expression, and found that the results are very inconclusive and mixed. A number of papers have found effects, but not all similar to each other and with difficulties in any clear trend that would allow easier reproductivity. Whilst there is definitely sufficient evidence to suggest that further work is required in this field, more consistency is required in methodology and results before any conclusions can start being drawn.

6. P Wiholm C et al, (September 2008) Mobile phone exposure and spatial memory, Bioelectromagnetics. 2008 Sep 15. [Epub ahead of print] [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

This is an extremely interesting paper from the point of view of electromagnetic sensitivity and objective comparisons between ES and non-ES participants. The researchers compared cognitive performances between two groups of regular mobile phone users - one group who regularly report suffering some form of symptoms and the other group who do not. The findings were that performance increased significantly for the symptomatic group when exposed to an actual RF signal (1.4 W/kg 900 MHz GSM) but not from the sham signal, or for the non-symptomatic group regardless of exposure. This is a potentially very important avenue for further replication, as it is an objectively measurable outcome showing differences in reponse between groups of participants from RF EMF exposure.

7. P Augner C et al, (September 2008) GSM base stations: Short-term effects on well-being, Bioelectromagnetics. 2008 Sep 19. [Epub ahead of print] [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

Research from Austria has found that 50 minute exposure sessions of GSM RF radiation actually lessened the anxiety of participants in the medium and high exposure categories. Concluding that "short-term exposure to GSM base station signals may have an impact on well-being by reducing psychological arousal", this is in contrast to many of the studies finding worsening symptoms for those living near mobile phone base stations, and is hard to interpret in context with the rest of the science.

8. P Gobba F et al, (September 2008) Extremely Low Frequency-Magnetic Fields (ELF-EMF) occupational exposure and natural killer activity in peripheral blood lymphocytes, Sci Total Environ. 2008 Sep 18. [Epub ahead of print] [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

An Italian paper looking at the association between ELF EMFs and cancer has found that NK cell activity was reduced in higher exposed workers as compared to lower exposed workers. As the NK cells have an active role in defence against cancer, this could indirectly be supporting evidence for the association. The exposure levels were < 0.2 µT for the low exposure group and > 1 µT for the highest exposure group.

9. P Agarwal A et al, (September 2008) Effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic waves (RF-EMW) from cellular phones on human ejaculated semen: an in vitro pilot study, Fertil Steril. 2008 Sep 18. [Epub ahead of print] [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

Following up on earlier work, Agarwal has produced another paper showing effects on fertility, this time an in vitro experiment finding significant damage to human ejaculated semen. This paper finds plausible evidence that it may well be mobile phones being responsible for the fertility effects found in other research, as opposed to other lifestyle factors that typical mobile phone users are involved in.