For presentations in May to NZ Parliament and June 2000 in Italy, Austria, Ireland and at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Evidence that Electromagnetic Radiation is Genotoxic: The implications for the epidemiology of cancer and cardiac, neurological and reproductive effects

Dr Neil Cherry

Lincoln University, New Zealand

June 2000

“Our frame of reference determines what we look at and how we look. And as a consequence, this determines what we find.” Burke J, The Day the Universe Changed, 1985.


The way we perceive things determines how we make decisions. To move from picturing ourselves as physical beings to biological beings significantly changes our view of health and fitness. Too much exercise and oxygen free radicals really damage our cells. To move from biological to bioelectrical incorporates intelligence and emotion and leads to a radically fundamental change in our way of seeing things that it forms the basis of a new paradigm.

Principles of Approach:

This paper attempts to follow basic classical scientific principles to counter the dismissive and biased approach of industry and many government and international authorities, including the WHO and ICNIRP.

The principles found to be important are that biology reveals that brains, hearts and cells use electromagnetic signals, charged ions, voltage-gated ion channels, ion regulated gap junctions, all of which can be interfered with by external electromagnetic fields in subtle but vital ways in relation to health.

A primary physical principle of resonant absorption explains why external and internal signals that share the same part of the spectrum, resonantly exchange energy at levels well below the thermal threshold. This is also true for radio and TV receivers. It involves tuned circuits and resonant absorption.

Laboratory experiments provide evidence of effects. Replicated and/or extended studies provided confirmation and establish an effect. Multiple studies confirm and strengthen the cause and effect relationship.

In assessing genotoxicity, any evidence of genetic damage, cell death or neoplastic transformation is evidence of genotoxicity. The genetic material is fundamentally the double helix of the DNA molecule. During the cell cycle the helix unwinds and clones itself. They then fold themselves into the set of chromosomes that are so large that they can be seen in powerful microscopes. In the second half of the cell cycle the chromosomes clone themselves so that at mitosis, cell division, each cell has a full set of chromosomes. They then unfold themselves to form the DNA strands.

Any substance that damages DNA or chromosomes, or changes genetic activity, is genotoxic because it is acting on the same material, i.e. the DNA molecule. A genotoxic substance is mutagenic, carcinogenic and teratogenic.

Strength of evidence for public health has a classical hierarchy that has dose-response relationship at the top and biological mechanism at the bottom, Hill (1965). This is seen by considering Sir Austin Bradford Hill’s descriptions of his ‘view points’ from which the question of cause and effect is being considered. Of dose-response he says:

“The simple dose-response curve admits of a simple explanation and obviously puts the case in a clearer light”, i.e. cause and effect.

Sir Austin considers many other forms of evidence from which cause and effect can be decided in the absence of a dose-response. These include strength of association and consistency, although he points out that the lack of strength and apparent inconsistency, is not necessarily arguments against cause and effect. Of biological mechanism, or plausibility, he states:

“It will be helpful if the causation we suspect is biologically plausible. But this is a feature I am convinced we cannot demand. What is biologically plausible depends upon the biological knowledge of the day.”

Thus biological plausibility has a low status and dose-response has a very high status.

When epidemiological evidence is available it should be used to set public health standards, where possible, using the dose-response relationships. In the absence of these, the level of lowest observed effect, with a safety margin to allow for uncertainly, the vulnerable, the size of the population at risk, are appropriate.

Dose response relationships for epidemiological studies of cancer are likely to be linear because of the cumulative cell damage/repair/mistake mechanism. At very high levels approaching lethal levels the curve become asymptotic. At very low levels, around the optimum homeostatic levels, curves can become “U” shaped. Thus, with the great sensitivity of the brain the neurological effects at extremely low exposure levels might be curved.

EMR Spectrum Principle:

It is observed that both biological effects and epidemiological effects appear to be the same or very similar from ELF exposure and from RF/MW exposures, including calcium ion efflux, melatonin reduction, DNA strand breakage, chromosome aberrations, leukaemia, brain cancer, breast cancer, miscarriage and neurological effects.

A frequently used method for falsely dismissing evidence of effects is to consider effects in small frequency and intensity bands. In fact, biophysics shows that the dielectric constant decreases monotonically with carrier frequency across the EMR spectrum, Schwan (1985). Vignati and Giuliani (1997) show that for a unit field exposure, the induced current increases significantly as a function of frequency, Figure 1.

The EMR Spectrum Principle predicts that effects that are associated with ELF exposure are very probably found with low intensity RF/MW exposure.

Figure 1: Capacitive current density in a toroid of human muscle tissue of unitary radius, to a unitary magnetic induction, Vignati and Giuliani (1997).Bawin and Adey (1976) show that a 56 V/m ELF field induces a tissue gradient of 10-7 V/cm, whereas a 56 V/m 147 MHz signal induces a tissue gradient of 10-1 V/cm, a million times higher. This is a large factor but smaller than that given by Figure 1.

These biophysical observations show that the impacts of RF/MW fields are higher than those of ELF fields of the same external intensity. It also indicates that the impact rises with carrier frequency. All of the EMR genetic damage effects are shown to occur with ELF and RF/MW frequencies, including cell phone frequencies. As the high frequencies couple more strongly with tissue, the depth of penetration decreases.

While this paper is primarily about RF/MW exposures, confirmation of effects is given by studies involving mixed and ELF exposure.

READ FULL PAPER http://www.feb.se/EMFguru/EMF/genotoxic/Genotoxic-EMR-paper.htm