Friday, August 11, 2017

Female Infertility & Cell Phone Radiation

Although we have considerable evidence that cell phone radiation damages sperm and is associated with male infertility, little attention has been paid to studying the effects of cell phone radiation on female infertility.* 

A newly published study by Courtney Lynch and her colleagues found for women trying to get pregnant that stress as measured by the alpha-amylase levels in their saliva predicted whether they were successful. The researchers found that women with the highest levels of this enzyme in their saliva had a 29 percent lower probability of pregnancy compared to those with the lowest levels. 

Although this study did not examine EMF exposure, earlier research published by Christoph Augner and his colleagues found that people who lived within 100 meters of cell phone towers had greater salivary alpha-amylase levels. In an experimental study, the researchers found that exposure to higher levels of GSM cell tower radiation increased the levels of this salivary enzyme. 

In a 2013 review paper, Nazıroğlu and colleagues examined research on the effects of Wi-Fi and mobile phone radiation on reproductive signaling pathways. They reported that this radiation is related to "oxidative stress and overproduction of free oxygen radicals in female and male infertility."  The authors concluded that "the role of EMR from mobile phones and wireless devices in female and male fertility should be investigated."

The news story and  study abstracts appear below.

References (Last update: 8/11/2017)


Shahin S, Singh SP, Chaturvedi CM. Mobile Phone (1800MHz) Radiation Impairs Female Reproduction in Mice, Mus musculus, through Stress Induced Inhibition of Ovarian and Uterine Activity. Reprod Toxicol. 2017 Aug 2. pii: S0890-6238(17)30167-3.

Highlights

• Mice exposed to mobile phone radiation (MPR) in different operative modes. 
• Ovarian & uterine histopathology, steroidogenesis & stress parameters were checked. 
• Degenerative changes & reduced follicle count were observed in MPR exposed ovary. 
• MPR resulted significant decrease in ovarian steroidogenic proteins & sex steroids. 
• MPR induced oxidative & nitrosative stress impairs reproductive functions in mice.

Abstract

Present study investigated the long-term effects of mobile phone (1800MHz) radiation in stand-by, dialing and receiving modes on the female reproductive function (ovarian and uterine histo-architecture, and steroidogenesis) and stress responses (oxidative and nitrosative stress). We observed that mobile phone radiation induces significant elevation in ROS, NO, lipid peroxidation, total carbonyl content and serum corticosterone coupled with significant decrease in antioxidant enzymes in hypothalamus, ovary and uterus of mice. Compared to control group, exposed mice exhibited reduced number of developing and mature follicles as well as corpus lutea. Significantly decreased serum levels of pituitary gonadotrophins (LH, FSH), sex steroids (E2 and P4) and expression of SF-1, StAR, P-450scc, 3β-HSD, 17β-HSD, cytochrome P-450 aromatase, ER-α and ER-β were observed in all the exposed groups of mice, compared to control. These findings suggest that mobile phone radiation induces oxidative and nitrosative stress, which affects the reproductive performance of female mice.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28780396

Excerpts

Experimental group mice were exposed to non-thermal (for body as a whole) mobile phone radiation (1800 MHz) by using Nokia 100 (2G, GSM) dual-band mobile phones continuously for four months (3 h/day for 120 days) in different operative modes i.e., dialing (dialing was performed), receiving (dialing signals from D-group was received) and stand-by (mobile phone was kept in just switched on mode) modes. From D-group mobile phones, only dialing signals (and not speech signals) were sent to the mobile phones of R-group. Dialing signals on the mobile phones of R-group were received so that both D- and R-group animals were in continuous condition of connectivity for 1½ hrs, then after a very small break (∼10–15 s) again the dialing was initiated from the mobile phones of D-group and signals were received at the mobile phones of R-group and the continuity between the signal transmission and reception is maintained for another 1½ hrs. SB-group mice were kept beneath the “switched-on mobile phones continuously for 3 h. Before the start of exposure, silent profile with no vibration was set for the mobile phones of all groups. To neutralize the box related and other external constraints, one sham control group was taken into account in each study. The control group mice were subjected to sham exposure in the same mobile phone exposure set-up for same time each day but with the mobile phones in “switched-off condition. 

This study demonstrate the deleterious effects of long-term 1800 MHz mobile phone radiation exposure in different operative modes i.e. dialing (D), receiving (R) and stand-by (SB) modes on female reproduction. Present experimental findings clearly elucidate that mobile phone radiation has a negative impact on female reproductive system. Outcome of the study demonstrates that long-term mobile phone irradiation causes alteration in ovarian and uterine morphology, histoarchitecture and activity. Mobile phone irradiated mice ovary revealed less number of developing and mature follicles with few corpus lutea and increased number of atretic/degenerative follicles. Although marked changes were observed in all the three experimental groups, the effects were more pronounced and severe in cases of R- and SB-groups of mice.

Overall, our study clearly elucidates that the long-term 1800 MHz mobile phone exposure impairs female reproductive system possibly via inducing both oxidative and nitrosative stress. Our study also suggests that mobile phone exposure produces deleterious effect on hypothalamus, ovary and uterus, and thus affects the ovarian and uterine activity and histoarchitecture adversely. Mobile phone radiation may result in ovarian and uterine dysfunction by increasing ROS and RNS production and disturbing antioxidant status. Oxidative and nitrosative stress created at the hypothalamus and peripheral level (ovary and uterus) as a consequence of long-term mobile phone exposure may severely reduce both steroidogenesis and folliculogenesis in the ovary as well as the structural and functional status of the uterus. 

These results led us to conclude that chronic exposure to long-term mobile phone radiation may severely affect the ovarian and uterine activity of female mice and thus may lead to infertility. The effects were more pronounced/deleterious in stand-by and receiving conditions. Further, the results of this study performed on the rodent model, Mus musculus, may not be extrapolated to human being as the SAR value delivered to human at the ovary or uterus end will be much less than (and not comparable to) the value for the rodent at the desired site due to greater depth of the site from the skin surface of human being, assuming large body size ratio between two type of subjects, i.e., human being and rodent. However, if the human being is exposed to mobile phone radiation over longer duration, there may be the possibility of the radiation producing similar effect on human female reproductive system, on the assumption, that the total energy absorbed in the two cases is of same order of magnitude. Therefore, we anticipate that, these findings will improve our understanding of the etiology of female infertility due to heavy mobile phone usage. 

The rise in female infertility problems may be, at least in part, due to a contribution from mobile phone radiation exposure to females. Hence, we anticipate that the outcome of the present study will not only contribute in framing of proper guidelines for safer use of mobile phone, which is an unavoidable device of present life style but may also assist in deciding the threshold limits to minimize adverse effects of the long term exposure to mobile phone radiations for females. However, further investigation is required in humans and non-human primates to determine whether the risks are similar and to establish safe exposure limits.

--

Chen H, Qu Z, Liu W. Effects of Simulated Mobile Phone Electromagnetic Radiation on Fertilization and Embryo Development. Fetal Pediatr Pathol. 2016 Dec 16:1-7. [Epub ahead of print]

Abstract

This study investigated the effects of 935-MHz electromagnetic radiation (ER) on fertilization and subsequent embryonic development in mice. Ovulating mice were irradiated at three ER intensities for 4 h/day (d) or 2 h/d for three consecutive days; the ova were then harvested for in vitro fertilization to observe the 6-h fertilization rate (6-FR), 72-h morula rate (72-MR), and 110-h blastula rate (110-BR). Compared with the control group, the 6-FR, 72-MR, and 110-BR were decreased in the low ER intensity group, but the differences were not significant; in the mid- and high-intensity ER groups, 72-MR and 110-BR in the 4 h/d and 2 h/d subgroups were decreased, showing significant differences compared with the control group. Moreover, the comparison between 4 h/d and 2 h/d subgroups showed significant differences. Mid- and high-intensity ER at 935 MHz can reduce the fertilization rate in mice, and reduce the blastulation rate, thus reducing the possibility of embryo implantation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27983879


Excerpts

Electromagnetic radiation devices consisted of four parts: a signal source (with frequency ranging from 935 to 960 MHz and magnetic field strength ranging from –15 db to +15 db), a rectifier (220 VAC/27 VDC; 300 W), a power amplifier, and a specific antenna with a length of 15 cm.

The mice were divided into seven groups by using a random table method: low-intensity (2 h/d and 4 h/d subgroups), mid-intensity (570 μW/cm2: 2 h/d and 4 h/d subgroups), high-intensity (1400 μW/cm2: 2 h/d and 4 h/d subgroups), and control groups. 

--

Stress May Diminish a Woman's Fertility, Study Suggests


First U.S. review to show a possible link between stress and how long it takes to get pregnant


Mary Brophy Marcus, HealthDay News, Mar 24, 2014


Stress may increase a woman's risk of infertility, new research suggests.

The authors of the study wanted to investigate the relationship between stress and infertility. So they looked at levels of an enzyme linked with stress in the saliva of women who were trying to get pregnant.

They also tracked the women's ability to conceive over a 12-month period.

"Women with higher levels of the stress biomarker had a two-fold increased risk of infertility," said study author Courtney Lynch. The enzyme they measured is called salivary alpha-amylase.

"Alpha-amylase is an enzyme that is secreted into the mouth that helps the body start to digest carbohydrates," said Lynch, director of reproductive epidemiology at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. "It is also linked to the fight-or-flight part of the stress system."

For the study, Lynch and her colleagues collected data from about 500 couples who were recruited from targeted counties in Texas and Michigan.

"We tried to find couples who were just starting to try to get pregnant," Lynch said. "We sent a nursing team out to their houses who did interviews and trained the women how to use saliva-collection kits."

The women took saliva samples twice -- at the start of the study and again after they'd had their first menstrual period during the study time frame. For most, that was about a month into the study, Lynch said. Since alpha-amylase can be affected by alcohol, tobacco and caffeine consumption, the researchers asked the women to take their saliva samples right after waking up in the morning.

The researchers followed the couples for up to 12 months, collecting information on whether they'd conceived.

Of the approximately 400 couples who completed the study, 87 percent of the women became pregnant. After adjusting for age, race, income and the use of alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes, the researchers found that the women with the highest alpha-amylase levels had a 29 percent lower probability of pregnancy compared to the women who had the lowest levels of the enzyme.

The study results were published in the March 24 issue of the journal Human Reproduction.
Lynch said it's important to be clear that the results do not suggest that stress alone is the reason a woman can't get pregnant.

"The message is not that everyone should go enroll in yoga tomorrow," she said. "The message is that if you've tried for five or six months and you aren't getting anywhere, maybe you should look at your lifestyle and think about whether or not stress might be a problem for you. 

And if it is, you might want to consider a stress-management program."

The authors said this is the first U.S. study to show a possible association between a stress indicator and how long it takes a woman to become pregnant.

Dr. Suleena Kansal Kalra is a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at the University of Pennsylvania. She called the new research "a great first step -- it's presenting a way to measure [indicators] of stress."

"Part of the challenge is that we don't have validated [indicators] of stress hormones or validated questionnaires that measure stress, so the next step is that we really need to start validating some of these tools," said Kalra, who was not involved with the new research. 

"Ultimately, we want to know how we can measure stress, and then, can we intervene?"

Exactly how stress affects fertility is not well understood, Lynch said. The study's authors said the women in the group with higher levels of the stress-related enzyme had sex about as often as those in the low-level group, so frequency of intercourse did not play a role.

Kalra said some women stop ovulating during stressful times, while others conceive in high-stress environments.

Lynch said the researchers have also collected data on men but have not yet analyzed it, so it's not yet clear how much a man's stress might influence a couple's fertility.

Women struggling with infertility who have stressful lifestyles should not blame themselves, Lynch said. "I don't want women to see this in the news and say, 'It's my fault I'm not pregnant,'" she said. "We know stress is not the major indicator of whether or not you're going to get pregnant."

Kalra agreed, noting that, "Age is the No. 1 factor linked to the inability to conceive. Mother Nature is cruel and unfair. All our success rates are better in women under 35. That does not mean every woman in her late 30s is going to be infertile, but age is the greatest predictor of success."

She added that cigarette smoking is "absolutely associated with a decrease in the ability to become pregnant," and obesity is beginning to be looked at as well.

Kalra is launching a fertility wellness program this spring at Penn that will combine yoga, meditation, nutrition counseling and a psychologist-led support group to help women who are hoping to become pregnant.

"Not being able to start your family when you're ready to do so can create a lot of stress for couples, particularly women," Kalra said.

"I'm not sure stress is an underlying cause of infertility, and I often find it counterproductive to tell women if they're a little less stressed they would become pregnant," she said. "We don't know if that's true. I generally say, 'I want you to feel as good as possible when you're embarking on the journey to have a family.' "

More information

To learn more about reducing stress, visit the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

SOURCES: Courtney Lynch, Ph.D., M.P.H., director, reproductive epidemiology, and assistant professor, obstetrics and gynecology and epidemiology, Ohio State University College of Medicine; Suleena Kansal Kalra, M.D., M.S.C.E., assistant professor, obstetrics and gynecology, and director, fertility wellness program, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; March 24, 2014, Human Reproduction, online

http://bit.ly/1jJnHVI

---

Lynch CD, Sundaram R, Maisog JM, Sweeney AM, Buck Louis GM.Preconception stress increases the risk of infertility: results from a couple-based prospective cohort study--the LIFE study. Hum Reprod. 2014 Mar 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION: Are women's stress levels prospectively associated with fecundity and infertility?

SUMMARY ANSWER: Higher levels of stress as measured by salivary alpha-amylase are associated with a longer time-to-pregnancy (TTP) and an increased risk of infertility.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Data suggest that stress and reproduction are interrelated; however, the directionality of that association is unclear.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: In 2005-2009, we enrolled 501 couples in a prospective cohort study with preconception enrollment at two research sites (Michigan and Texas, USA). Couples were followed for up to 12 months as they tried to conceive and through pregnancy if it occurred. A total of 401 (80%) couples completed the study protocol and 373 (93%) had complete data available for this analysis.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Enrolled women collected saliva the morning following enrollment and then the morning following their first observed study menses for the measurement of cortisol and alpha-amylase, which are biomarkers of stress. TTP was measured in cycles. Covariate data were captured on both a baseline questionnaire and daily journals.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Among the 401 (80%) women who completed the protocol, 347 (87%) became pregnant and 54 (13%) did not. After adjustment for female age, race, income, and use of alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes while trying to conceive, women in the highest tertile of alpha-amylase exhibited a 29% reduction in fecundity (longer TTP) compared with women in the lowest tertile [fecundability odds ratios (FORs) = 0.71; 95% confidence interval (CI) = (0.51, 1.00); P < 0.05]. This reduction in fecundity translated into a >2-fold increased risk of infertility among these women [relative risk (RR) = 2.07; 95% CI = (1.04, 4.11)]. In contrast, we found no association between salivary cortisol and fecundability.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Due to fiscal and logistical concerns, we were unable to collect repeated saliva samples and perceived stress questionnaire data throughout the duration of follow-up. Therefore, we were unable to examine whether stress levels increased as women continued to fail to get pregnant. Our ability to control for potential confounders using time-varying data from the daily journals, however, minimizes residual confounding.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: This is the first US study to demonstrate a prospective association between salivary stress biomarkers and TTP, and the first in the world to observe an association with infertility.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): This study was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (contracts #N01-HD-3-3355, N01-HD-3-3356, N01-HD-3358). There are no conflicts of interest to declare.


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24664130

--

Augner C, Hacker GW. Are people living next to mobile phone base stations more strained? Relationship of health concerns, self-estimated distance to base station, and psychological parameters. Indian J Occup Environ Med. 2009 Dec;13(3):141-5. doi: 10.4103/0019-5278.58918.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Coeval with the expansion of mobile phone technology and the associated obvious presence of mobile phone base stations, some people living close to these masts reported symptoms they attributed to electromagnetic fields (EMF). Public and scientific discussions arose with regard to whether these symptoms were due to EMF or were nocebo effects. The aim of this study was to find out if people who believe that they live close to base stations show psychological or psychobiological differences that would indicate more strain or stress. Furthermore, we wanted to detect the relevant connections linking self-estimated distance between home and the next mobile phone base station (DBS), daily use of mobile phone (MPU), EMF-health concerns, electromagnetic hypersensitivity, and psychological strain parameters.

DESIGN, MATERIALS AND METHODS:  Fifty-seven participants completed standardized and non-standardized questionnaires that focused on the relevant parameters. In addition, saliva samples were used as an indication to determine the psychobiological strain by concentration of alpha-amylase, cortisol, immunoglobulin A (IgA), and substance P.

RESULTS:  Self-declared base station neighbors (DBS </= 100 meters) had significantly higher concentrations of alpha-amylase in their saliva, higher rates in symptom checklist subscales (SCL) somatization, obsessive-compulsive, anxiety, phobic anxiety, and global strain index PST (Positive Symptom Total). There were no differences in EMF-related health concern scales.

CONCLUSIONS:  We conclude that self-declared base station neighbors are more strained than others. EMF-related health concerns cannot explain these findings. Further research should identify if actual EMF exposure or other factors are responsible for these results.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20442833

--

Augner C, Hacker GW, Oberfeld G, Florian M, Hitzl W, Hutter J, Pauser G. Effects of exposure to GSM mobile phone base station signals on salivary cortisol, alpha-amylase, and immunoglobulin A. Biomed Environ Sci. 2010 Jun;23(3):199-207. doi: 10.1016/S0895-3988(10)60053-0.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The present study aimed to test whether exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) emitted by mobile phone base stations may have effects on salivary alpha-amylase, immunoglobulin A (IgA), and cortisol levels.

METHODS: Fifty seven participants were randomly allocated to one of three different experimental scenarios (22 participants to scenario 1, 26 to scenario 2, and 9 to scenario 3). Each participant went through five 50-minute exposure sessions. The main RF-EMF source was a GSM-900-MHz antenna located at the outer wall of the building. In scenarios 1 and 2, the first, third, and fifth sessions were "low" (median power flux density 5.2 microW/m(2)) exposure. The second session was "high" (2126.8 microW/m(2)), and the fourth session was "medium" (153.6 microW/m(2)) in scenario 1, and vice versa in scenario 2. Scenario 3 had four "low" exposure conditions, followed by a "high" exposure condition. Biomedical parameters were collected by saliva samples three times a session. Exposure levels were created by shielding curtains.

RESULTS: In scenario 3 from session 4 to session 5 (from "low" to "high" exposure), an increase of cortisol was detected, while in scenarios 1 and 2, a higher concentration of alpha-amylase related to the baseline was identified as compared to that in scenario 3. IgA concentration was not significantly related to the exposure.

CONCLUSIONS: RF-EMF in considerably lower field densities than ICNIRP-guidelines may influence certain psychobiological stress markers.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20708499

---

Nazıroğlu M, Yüksel M, Köse SA, Özkaya MO. Recent reports of Wi-Fi and mobile phone-induced radiation on oxidative stress and reproductive signaling pathways in females and males.J Membr Biol. 2013 Dec;246(12):869-75. doi: 10.1007/s00232-013-9597-9. Epub 2013 Oct 9.

Abstract

Environmental exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) has been increasing with the increasing demand for communication devices. The aim of the study was to discuss the mechanisms and risk factors of EMR changes on reproductive functions and membrane oxidative biology in females and males. It was reported that even chronic exposure to EMR did not increase the risk of reproductive functions such as increased levels of neoantigens abort. However, the results of some studies indicate that EMR induced endometriosis and inflammation and decreased the number of follicles in the ovarium or uterus of rats. In studies with male rats, exposure caused degeneration in the seminiferous tubules, reduction in the number of Leydig cells and testosterone production as well as increases in luteinizing hormone levels and apoptotic cells. In some cases of male and female infertility, increased levels of oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation and decreased values of antioxidants such as melatonin, vitamin E and glutathione peroxidase were reported in animals exposed to EMR. In conclusion, the results of current studies indicate that oxidative stress from exposure to Wi-Fi and mobile phone-induced EMR is a significant mechanism affecting female and male reproductive systems. However, there is no evidence to this date to support an increased risk of female and male infertility related to EMR exposure.
Conclusions

.. EMR exposure from Wi-Fi and mobile phones is related to oxidative stress and overproduction of free oxygen radicals in female and male infertility. Use of mobile phones and wireless devices has been increasing day by day. There are very scarce data on Wi-Fi-induced reproductive dysfunction in female and male individuals. However, carcinogenic and proliferative effects of mobile phones (Kim et al. 2010) and Wi-Fi (Kumar et al. 2011; Kesari et al. 2011; Nazırog˘lu et al. 2012b) have been reported in animals and cell culture systems, although there is no report on Wi-Fi- or mobile phone-induced cancer in reproductive tissues of female and male individuals. In the future, the role of EMR from mobile phones and wireless devices in female and male fertility should be investigated.

--

Shibkova DZ, Shilkova TV, Ovchinnikova AV. [Early and Delayed Effects of Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Fields on the Reproductive Function and Functional Status of the Offspring of Experimental Animals]. [Article in Russian]. Radiats Biol Radioecol. 2015 Sep-Oct;55(5):514-9.

Abstract

The aim of our experimental research was to study the impact of radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) on the reproductive function of male and female mice of CBA in 2 models of exposure, as well as on the morphofunctional state of progeny of irradiated animals. It was found that RF EMF under conditions of repeated short-term exposures (within 5 days for 10 minutes at PES 1.2 mW/cm2) affects the course of pregnancy in female mice, the number of litters, fertility and preservation of offspring, morphometric characteristics of the offspring of experimental animals at different models of irradiation (exposure of animals to RF EMF prior to mating and during pregnancy).


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26863782

Monday, August 7, 2017

5G Wireless Technology: Millimeter Wave Health Effects

The emergence of 5G, fifth-generation telecommunications networks, has been in the news lately because the wireless industry has been pushing controversial legislation at the state level to expedite the deployment of this technology. The legislation would block the rights of local governments and their citizens to control the installation of cellular antennas in the public “right-of-way.” Cell antennas may be installed on public utility poles every 10-20 houses in urban areas. According to the industry, as many as 50,000 new cell sites will be required in California alone. 

Although many major cities and newspapers have opposed this legislation, the potential health risks from the proliferation of new cellular antenna sites have been ignored. These cell antennas will expose the population to new sources of radio frequency radiation including MMWs.

5G will employ low- (0.6 GHz - 3.7 GHz), mid- (3.7 – 24 GHz), and high-band frequencies (24 GHz and higher). In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has allocated “low-band” spectrum at 0.6 GHz (e.g., 600 MHz), “mid-band” spectrum in the 3.5 GHz range, and 11 GHz of “high-band” frequencies including licensed spectrum from 27.5-28.35 GHz and 37-40 GHz, as well as unlicensed spectrum from 64-71 GHz which is open to all wireless equipment manufacturers.

Prior to widespread deployment, major cell phone carriers are experimenting with new technologies that employ “high-band” frequencies in communities across the country. The “high-band” frequencies largely consist of millimeter waves (MMWs), a type of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths of one to ten millimeters and frequencies ranging from 30 to 300 GHz (or billions of cycles per second). 

The characteristics of MMWs are different than the “low-band” (i.e., microwave) frequencies which are currently in use by the cellular and wireless industries. MMWs can transmit large amounts of data over short distances. The transmissions can be directed into narrow beams that travel by line-of-sight and can move data at high rates (e.g., up to 10 billion bits per second) with short lags (or latencies) between transmissions. The signals are blocked by buildings, and foliage can absorb much of their energy. Also, the waves can be reflected by metallic surfaces. Although antennas can be as small as a few millimeters, “small cell” antenna arrays may consist of dozens or even hundreds of antenna elements.


What does research tell us about the biologic and health effects of millimeter waves?

Millimeter waves (MMWs) are mostly absorbed within 1 to 2 millimeters of human skin and in the surface layers of the cornea. Thus, the skin or near-surface zones of tissues are the primary targets of the radiation. Since skin contains capillaries and nerve endings, MMW bio-effects may be transmitted through molecular mechanisms by the skin or through the nervous system. 

Thermal (or heating) effects occur when the power density of the waves is above 5–10 mW/cm2. Such high-intensity MMWs act on human skin and the cornea in a dose-dependent manner—beginning with heat sensation followed by pain and physical damage at higher exposures. Temperature elevation can impact the growth, morphology and metabolism of cells, induce production of free radicals, and damage DNA.

The maximum permissible exposure that the FCC permits for the general public is 1.0 mW/cm2 averaged over 30 minutes for frequencies that range from 1.5 GHz to 100 GHz. This guideline was adopted in 1996 to protect humans from acute exposure to thermal levels of radiofrequency radiation. However, the guidelines were not designed to protect us from nonthermal risks that may occur with prolonged or long-term exposure to radiofrequency radiation.

With the deployment of fifth generation wireless infrastructure (aka 5G), much of the nation will be exposed to MMWs for the first time on a continuous basis. Due to FCC guidelines, these exposures will likely be of low intensity. Hence, the health consequences of 5G exposure will be limited to non-thermal effects produced by prolonged exposure to MMWs in conjunction with exposure to low- and mid-band radiofrequency radiation.

Unfortunately, few studies have examined prolonged exposure to low-intensity MMWs, and no research that I am aware of has focused on exposure to MMWs combined with other radiofrequency radiation.

Although biologic effects of low-intensity MMWs have been studied for decades, particularly in Eastern Europe, study results are often inconsistent because the effects are related to many factors including the frequency, modulation, power density, and duration of the exposures, as well as the type of tissue or cells being investigated.

Results vary across studies—MMWs have been shown to induce or inhibit cell death and enhance or suppress cell proliferation. Some studies found that the radiation inhibits cell cycle progression, and some studies reported no biologic effects (Le Drean et al., 2013)

A review of the research in 2010 noted that “A large number of cellular studies have indicated that MMW may alter structural and functional properties of membranes.” Exposure to MMWs may affect the plasma membrane either by modifying ion channel activity or by modifying the phospholipid bilayer. Water molecules also seem to play a role in these effects. Skin nerve endings are a likely target of MMWs and the possible starting point of numerous biological effects. MMWs may activate the immune system through stimulation of the peripheral neural system (Ramundo-Orlando, 2010).

In 1998, five scientists employed by U.S. Army and Air Force research institutes published a seminal review of the research on MMWs. They reported:

“Increased sensitivity and even hypersensitivity of individual specimens to MMW may be real. Depending on the exposure characteristics, especially wavelength, a low-intensity MMW radiation was perceived by 30 to 80% of healthy examinees (Lebedeva, 1993, 1995). Some clinical studies reported MMW hypersensitivity, which was or was not limited to a certain wavelength (Golovacheva, 1995).”

“It is important to note that, even with the variety of bioeffects reported, no studies have provided evidence that a low-intensity MMW radiation represents a health hazard for human beings. Actually, none of the reviewed studies with low-intensity MMW even pursued the evaluation of health risks, although in view of numerous bioeffects and growing usage of MMW technologies this research objective seems very reasonable. Such MMW effects as alterations of cell growth rate and UV light sensitivity, biochemical and antibiotic resistivity changes in pathogenic bacteria, as well as many others are of potential significance for safety standards, but even local and short-term exposures were reported to produce marked effects. It should also be realized that biological effects of a prolonged or chronic MMW exposure of the whole body or a large body area have never been investigated. Safety limits for these types of exposures are based solely on predictions of energy deposition and MMW heating, but in view of recent studies this approach is not necessarily adequate.” (Pakhomov et al., 1998)

Microbes are also affected by MMW radiation. In 2016 a review of the research on the effects of MMWs on bacteria was published (Soghomonyan et al., 2016). The authors summarized their findings as follows:

“…bacteria and other cells might communicate with each other by electromagnetic field of sub-extremely high frequency range. These MMW affected Escherichia coli and many other bacteria, mainly depressing their growth and changing properties and activity. These effects were non-thermal and depended on different factors. The significant cellular targets for MMW effects could be water, cell plasma membrane, and genome….The consequences of MMW interaction with bacteria are the changes in their sensitivity to different biologically active chemicals, including antibiotics….These effects are of significance for understanding changed metabolic pathways and distinguish role of bacteria in environment; they might be leading to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.”

Changing the sensitivity of bacteria to antibiotics by MMW irradiation can be important for the understanding of antibiotic resistance in the environment. In this respect, it is interesting that bacteria [that] survived near telecommunication-based stations like Bacillus and Clostridium spp. have been found to be multidrug resistant (Adebayo et al. 2014).”  (Soghomonyan et al., 2016)


In sum, the peer-reviewed research demonstrates that short-term exposure to low-intensity millimeter wave (MMW) radiation not only affects human cells, it may result in the growth of multi-drug resistant bacteria harmful to humans. Since little research has been conducted on the health consequences from long-term exposure to MMWs, widespread deployment of 5G or 5th generation wireless infrastructure constitutes a massive experiment that may have adverse impacts on the public’s health.

Related Posts

Following are summaries of research reviews of the effects of MMW exposure and a list of recently published studies.

Millimeter Wave Research Reviews
(Updated Aug 9, 2017)

Belyaev IY, Shcheglov VS, Alipov ED, Ushakov VD. Nonthermal effects of extremely high-frequency microwaves on chromatin conformation in cells in vitro—Dependence on physical, physiological, and genetic factors. IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques. 2000; 48(11):2172-2179.

Abstract

There is a substantial number of studies showing biological effects of microwaves of extremely high-frequency range [i.e., millimeter waves (MMWs)] at nonthermal intensities, but poor reproducibility was reported in few replication studies. One possible explanation could be the dependence of the MMW effects on some parameters, which were not controlled in replications. The authors studied MMW effects on chromatin conformation in Escherichia coli (E. coli) cells and rat thymocytes. Strong dependence of MMW effects on frequency and polarization was observed at nonthermal power densities. Several other factors were important, such as the genotype of a strain under study, growth stage of the bacterial cultures, and time between exposure to microwaves and recording of the effect. MMW effects were dependent on cell density during exposure. This finding suggested an interaction of microwaves with cell-to-cell communication. Such dependence on several genetic, physiological, and physical variables might be a reason why, in some studies, the authors failed to reproduce the original data of others.




Le Drean Y, Mahamoud YS, Le Page Y, Habauzit D, Le Quement C, Zhadobov M, Sauleau R. State of knowledge on biological effects at 40–60 GHz. Comptes Rendus Physique. 2013; 14(5):402-411.

Abstract

Millimetre waves correspond to the range of frequencies located between 30 and 300 GHz. Many applications exist and are emerging in this band, including wireless telecommunications, imaging and monitoring systems. In addition, some of these frequencies are used in therapy in Eastern Europe, suggesting that interactions with the human body are possible. This review aims to summarise current knowledge on interactions between millimetre waves and living matter. Several representative examples from the scientific literature are presented. Then, possible mechanisms of interactions between millimetre waves and biological systems are discussed.

--

Pakhomov AG, Akyel Y, Pakhomova ON, Stuck BE, Murphy MR. Current state and implications of research on biological effects of millimeter waves: a review of the literature. Bioelectromagnetics. 1998; 19(7):393-413.

In recent years, research into biological and medical effects of millimeter waves (MMW) has expanded greatly. This paper analyzes general trends in the area and briefly reviews the most significant publications, proceeding from cell-free systems, dosimetry, and spectroscopy issues through cultured cells and isolated organs to animals and humans. The studies reviewed demonstrate effects of low-intensity MMW (10 mW/cm2 and less) on cell growth and proliferation, activity of enzymes, state of cell genetic apparatus, function of excitable membranes, peripheral receptors, and other biological systems. In animals and humans, local MMW exposure stimulated tissue repair and regeneration, alleviated stress reactions, and facilitated recovery in a wide range of diseases (MMW therapy). Many reported MMW effects could not be readily explained by temperature changes during irradiation. The paper outlines some problems and uncertainties in the MMW research area, identifies tasks for future studies, and discusses possible implications for development of exposure safety criteria and guidelines.


Ramundo-Orlando A. Effects of millimeter waves radiation on cell membrane - A brief review. Journal of Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz Waves.  2010; 31(12):1400–1411.

Abstract

The millimeter waves (MMW) region of the electromagnetic spectrum, extending from 30 to 300 GHz in terms of frequency (corresponding to wavelengths from 10 mm to 1 mm), is officially used in non-invasive complementary medicine in many Eastern European countries against a variety of diseases such gastro duodenal ulcers, cardiovascular disorders, traumatism and tumor. On the other hand, besides technological applications in traffic and military systems, in the near future MMW will also find applications in high resolution and high-speed wireless communication technology. This has led to restoring interest in research on MMW induced biological effects. In this review emphasis has been given to the MMW-induced effects on cell membranes that are considered the major target for the interaction between MMW and biological systems.


--

Ryan KL, D'Andrea JA, Jauchem JR, Mason PA. Radio frequency radiation of millimeter wave length: potential occupational safety issues relating to surface heating.  Health Phys. 2000; 78(2):170-81.

Abstract

Currently, technology is being developed that makes use of the millimeter wave (MMW) range (30-300 GHz) of the radio frequency region of the electromagnetic spectrum. As more and more systems come on line and are used in everyday applications, the possibility of inadvertent exposure of personnel to MMWs increases. To date, there has been no published discussion regarding the health effects of MMWs; this review attempts to fill that void. Because of the shallow depth of penetration, the energy and, therefore, heat associated with MMWs will be deposited within the first 1-2 mm of human skin. MMWs have been used in states of the former Soviet Union to provide therapeutic benefit in a number of diverse disease states, including skin disorders, gastric ulcers, heart disease and cancer. Conversely, the possibility exists that hazards might be associated with accidental overexposure to MMWs. This review attempts to critically analyze the likelihood of such acute effects as burn and eye damage, as well as potential long-term effects, including cancer.


--

Soghomonyan D, Trchounian K, Trchounian A. Millimeter waves or extremely high frequency electromagnetic fields in the environment: what are their effects on bacteria? Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2016; 100(11):4761-71. doi: 10.1007/s00253-016-7538-0.

Abstract

Millimeter waves (MMW) or electromagnetic fields of extremely high frequencies at low intensity is a new environmental factor, the level of which is increased as technology advance. It is of interest that bacteria and other cells might communicate with each other by electromagnetic field of sub-extremely high frequency range. These MMW affected Escherichia coli and many other bacteria, mainly depressing their growth and changing properties and activity. These effects were non-thermal and depended on different factors. The significant cellular targets for MMW effects could be water, cell plasma membrane, and genome. The model for the MMW interaction with bacteria is suggested; a role of the membrane-associated proton FOF1-ATPase, key enzyme of bioenergetic relevance, is proposed. The consequences of MMW interaction with bacteria are the changes in their sensitivity to different biologically active chemicals, including antibiotics. Novel data on MMW effects on bacteria and their sensitivity to different antibiotics are presented and discussed; the combined action of MMW and antibiotics resulted with more strong effects. These effects are of significance for understanding changed metabolic pathways and distinguish role of bacteria in environment; they might be leading to antibiotic resistance in bacteria. The effects might have applications in the development of technique, therapeutic practices, and food protection technology.


--

Torgomyan H, Trchounian A. Bactericidal effects of low-intensity extremely high frequency electromagnetic field: an overview with phenomenon, mechanisms, targets and consequences. Crit Rev Microbiol. 2013; 39(1):102-11.

Abstract

Low-intensity electromagnetic field (EMF) of extremely high frequencies is a widespread environmental factor. This field is used in telecommunication systems, therapeutic practices and food protection. Particularly, in medicine and food industries EMF is used for its bactericidal effects. The significant targets of cellular mechanisms for EMF effects at resonant frequencies in bacteria could be water (H2O), cell membrane and genome. The changes in H2O cluster structure and properties might be leading to increase of chemical activity or hydration of proteins and other cellular structures. These effects are likely to be specific and long-term. Moreover, cell membrane with its surface characteristics, substance transport and energy-conversing processes is also altered. Then, the genome is affected because the conformational changes in DNA and the transition of bacterial pro-phages from lysogenic to lytic state have been detected. The consequences for EMF interaction with bacteria are the changes in their sensitivity to different chemicals, including antibiotics. These effects are important to understand distinguishing role of bacteria in environment, leading to changed metabolic pathways in bacteria and their antibiotic resistance. This EMF may also affect the cell-to-cell interactions in bacterial populations, since bacteria might interact with each other through EMF of sub-extremely high frequency range.



Recent Millimeter Wave Studies
(Updated: August 7, 2017)

Foster KR, Ziskin MC, Balzano Q. Thermal Response of Human Skin to Microwave Energy: A Critical Review. Health Phys. 2016; 111(6):528-541. (Note: This work was sponsored by the Mobile Manufacturers Forum. The authors state that MMF had no control over the contents.)  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27798477

Gandhi OP, Riazi A. Absorption of millimeter waves by human beings and its biological implications. IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques. MTT-34(2):228-235. 1986. http://bit.ly/2oS3rKD

Haas AJ, Le Page Y, Zhadobov M, Sauleau R, Le Dréan Y. Effects of 60-GHz millimeter waves on neurite outgrowth in PC12 cells using high-content screening. Neurosci Lett. 2016 Apr 8;618:58-65.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26921450

Haas AJ, Le Page Y, Zhadobov M, Sauleau R, Dréan YL, Saligaut C. Effect of acute millimeter wave exposure on dopamine metabolism of NGF-treated PC12 cells. J Radiat Res. 2017 Feb 24:1-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28339776

Hovnanyan K, Kalantaryan V, Trchounian A. The distinguishing effects of low intensity electromagnetic radiation of different extremely high frequences on Enterococcus hirae: growth rate inhibition and scanning electron microscopy analysis. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28609553

Koyama S, Narita E, Shimizu Y, Suzuki Y, Shiina T, Taki M, Shinohara N, Miyakoshi J.Effects of Long-Term Exposure to 60 GHz Millimeter-Wavelength Radiation on the Genotoxicity and Heat Shock Protein (Hsp) Expression of Cells Derived from Human Eye. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016 Aug 8;13(8). pii: E802. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27509516

Sivachenko IB, Medvedev DS, Molodtsova ID, Panteleev SS, Sokolov AY, Lyubashina OA. Effects of Millimeter-Wave Electromagnetic Radiation on the Experimental Model of Migraine. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2016 Feb;160(4):425-8. doi: 10.1007/s10517-016-3187-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26899844