You’ve certainly heard the controversy about cell phones. Some experts think they cause brain cancer, while others don’t. But there is an even bigger issue here — how all your electronics affect your brain health, beyond just cell phone use.
Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) and the Brain
Whenever an electric current flows through a wire, an electromagnetic field (EMF) is created. EMFs are produced by electricity flowing through power lines, home wiring, appliances, cell phones, and other electrical devices. You would expect your microwave, cell phone, and WiFi to be high EMF producers, but so are your fridge, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, and blender.
Radio frequency (RF) is one specific range of frequency of electromagnetic energy used in many types of wireless technologies — including cordless phones, radar, GPS devices, cell phones, and radio and TV broadcasts.
And your brain is exposed to it all.
Here are some of the known ways EMFs harm your brain:
- EMFs create free radicals — unattached oxygen molecules that attack your cells much in the same way that rust attacks metal. Your brain uses a lot of oxygen which is why it’s very susceptible to free radical damage. Free radicals can kill cells and even cause DNA damage.
- Low-level EMFs have been found to rupture delicate brain cell membranes causing them to leak calcium ions. Calcium ions are used by your brain cells to communicate with each other.
- EMFs have been shown to break the brain-blood barrier, allowing toxins and chemicals to enter the brain and seriously affect brain function.
- Over 100 proteins in the brain are negatively impacted by EMF. Proteins are integral in brain cell structure and neurotransmitter formation.
- EMF exposure affects the structure and function of the thyroid. Low thyroid hormone levels can lead to concentration problems, forgetfulness, and difficulty making decisions, as well as muscle aches, fatigue, and weight gain.
- Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman, author of Zapped, reports that patients with a wide range of symptoms, such as dizziness and anxiety, memory loss, ringing in the ears, unrelenting fatigue, and weight gain, can attribute them to high levels of EMFs.
EMFs and Alzheimer’s Disease
In 2008, researchers claimed to have found a direct link between the electromagnetic fields created by power lines and all types of dementia. People living within 150 feet of a high voltage power lines are more likely to die of Alzheimer’s.
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Occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields can lead to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. One of the weirdest findings showed that sewing machine operators have four times the risk of Alzheimer’s caused by strong, continuous exposure to EMFs over long periods of time.
Some people are more sensitive to the effects of EMFs than others — in particular, children, seniors, and those suffering from ill health. Even when there is no reason to believe EMFs caused Alzheimer’s, they can make the symptoms worse.
EMFs and Sleep
Dozens of studies have found that even low levels of EMFs can disrupt your body’s production of melatonin. This naturally occurring hormone regulates your sleep cycle and is a potent antioxidant — 5x more potent that vitamin C.
By suppressing melatonin, EMFs deal a double whammy. This disrupts sleep, when memory consolidation and new brain cell generation occurs. And it is no longer available to prevent free radical damage.
Cell Phones and the Brain
Cell phones are a particular worry since they are used so often and so close to the head. You can just as readily find studies to prove they cause cancer as that they don’t.
But there is more than cancer to be worried about. EMFs can penetrate as much as 1-1/2 inches into the brain and lead to headaches, dizziness, sleep disorders, benign tumors, and Alzheimer’s.
The World Health Organization has come down on the side of caution, putting cell phones in the same cancer-causing category as lead, engine exhaust, and chloroform.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that simply holding an activated cell phone next to your head for less than an hour changes brain metabolism.
Clinical Neurophysiology reports that mobile phone emissions affect the brain’s “cross talk,” slowing down the brain’s reaction time.
I don’t expect you will give up your cell phone. The trend is for people to spend more time on their smartphone and less on their PC, and this is expected to continue. But there are a few common-sense precautions you can take.
- Keep your phone as far away as you can when it’s turned on.
- Turn it off when you can.
- Invest in a cell phone radiation protector.
- Don’t sleep with it on next to your head.
You can see from the infographic below that most people keep their cell phone on their nightstand and use it as an alarm clock. This is a pet peeve of mine.
You are exposing your head to unnecessary radiation for 1/3 of your life just to wake up in the morning. This doesn’t make sense. Get an alarm clock, people!