Study Finds Cell Tower Radiation is Linked To Type of Damage in Human Blood That Predicts Cancer
A newly published study comparing people living close (within 80 meters) and far (over 300 meters) from a cellular antennas found that the people living closer to the cellular antennas had statistically significant effects- increases in blood damage considered biomarkers predictive of cancer. Researchers measured the radiofrequency (RF) radiation exposures to the two groups and found that although the levels were within government limits, the people living closer to the cellular antennas had a much higher RF exposure.
The study entitled, “Impact of radiofrequency radiation on DNA damage and antioxidants in peripheral blood lymphocytes of humans residing in the vicinity of mobile phone base station” (Zothansiama et al, 2017) was published in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine.
Through blood tests, researchers found statistically significant findings in people living closer to mobile base stations – who had higher RF levels in their bedrooms than the control group.
The exposed group had statistically significant:
- Higher frequency of micronuclei.
- Attrition in antioxidant glutathione concentration, activities of catalase and superoxide dismutase.
- Rise in lipid peroxidation a product of free radical oxidation.
“The present study demonstrated that staying near the mobile base stations and continuous use of mobile phones damage the DNA, and it may have an adverse effect in the long run. The persistence of DNA unrepaired damage leads to genomic instability which may lead to several health disorders including the induction of cancer, ” concluded the study authors.
The increases in micronuclei in the people living closer to the cellular antennas is important in understanding the health impact of human exposures to cellular radiation. Micronuclei form in blood as a result of chromosomal damage and micronuclei are considered an early biological indicator of cancer risk.
Published research concludes that screening for micronuclei may serve as a valuable method in predicting cancer and various diseases because micronuclei are a biomarker of chromosomal defects induced by genotoxic agents. As an example, in a 2004 published study, researchers found the presence of micronuclei in higher numbers among children who developed thyroid cancer as a result of their radioactive exposure in the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Micronuclei was used as an indicator of the radiation damage in this study.
In addition to this study, several previously published studies show a decrease in glutathione or glutathione enzymatic activity after exposure to wireless radiation. Glutathione is the main cellular free radical scavenger in the brain, playing a key role in protecting cells from toxins, particularly in the brain. This antioxidant maintains the body’s immune system. In addition, published studies have supported the hypothesis that glutathione may play a role in the pathophysiology of autism.
In this study the exposed group was constituted of people living within 80 meters of cell antennas and the control group was constituted of people living over 300 meters away from cell antennas. The study groups were matched for various demographic data including age, gender, dietary pattern, smoking habit, alcohol consumption, duration of mobile phone use and average daily mobile phone use. None of the participants had occupational exposure to RFR, and there were no electric transformer, high tension electric power line and radio and television transmitters close to (at least 500 m) their residences. Sampling was also done only from those residences who did not use microwave oven for cooking, Wifi devices and any other major source of electromagnetic fields.
Effects Found at Radiofrequency Exposures Within Government Limits
In this study, bedroom RF power density measurements were taken to measure the exposure of the two groups. For both groups the RF levels were below the Indian government’s allowable public exposure limits to RF radiation. India’s limits are 0.45 W/m2 for 900 MHz and 0.92 W/m2 for 1800 MHz frequency as per Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications, Government of India, New Delhi guidelines and are 1/10 of International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
In 2012 the India Ministry of Communications and Information Technology lowered public radiofrequency limits to 1/10 of the ICNIRP level.
“Keeping the precautionary EMF safe exposure limits for the Radio Frequency Field (Base Station Emissions) as 1/10th of the safe limits prescribed by ICNIRP for all areas in India, eliminates the need for fixing lower limits for specific areas like schools, hospitals, residential premises, children playgrounds; a segregation of which is impractical in densely populated localities.”
This study found significant effects at radio frequency exposures below these government limits on allowable public exposures.
Higher Radiofrequency Exposures to People Living Closer to Cellular Antennas
As would be expected, bedroom measurements taken by researchers found that the RF power density of the bedrooms of the exposed group whose homes were closer to the cell tower was significantly higher in comparison to the control group.
Previous research has found increased RF exposures in areas closer to the vicinity of cellular antennas. For example an Australian study that utilized body worn dosimeters found that base stations (cell towers) near schools significantly increased Australian kindergartens exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMF). In the 2016 study published in Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, the kindergarten children with nearby base stations (closer than 300 meters) had a total exposure to radiofrequency (RF-EMF) radiation nearly 3 ½ times higher than children with base stations further away (more than than 300 meters).
Due to the increased exposure to people in the vicinity of cellular antennas, several governments have enacted policy to reduce children’s exposures. As an example, in Chile The “Antennae Law” prohibits cell antennae and towers in “sensitive areas” which include nurseries, kindergartens, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes. In India, Zilla Parishad has ordered the removal of all cellphone towers near schools citing exposure to “harmful radiation” and Rajasthan and Mumbai have policies restricting cellular antennas near schools and parks.
In a 2014 review by human rights experts published in Environmental Science & Policy Claudia Roda and Susan Perry argued that cell tower placement is a human rights issue for children.
“We argue that because protection of children is a high threshold norm in Human Right law and the binding language of the Convention on the Rights of the Child obliges States Parties to provide a higher standard of protection for children than adults, any widespread or systematic form of environmental pollution that poses a long-term threat to a child’s rights to life, development or health may constitute an international human rights violation.
“In particular we have explained how the dearth of legislation to regulate the installation of base stations (cell towers) in close proximity to children’s facilities and schools clearly constitutes a human rights concern according to the language of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that has been ratified by all European States.”
Zothansiama, et al. “Impact of radiofrequency radiation on DNA damage and antioxidants in peripheral blood lymphocytes of humans residing in the vicinity of mobile phone base stations.” Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine (2017): 1-11. doi:10.1080/15368378.2017.1350584.
Radiofrequency radiations (RFRs) emitted by mobile phone base stations have raised concerns on its adverse impact on humans residing in the vicinity of mobile phone base stations. Therefore, the present study was envisaged to evaluate the effect of RFR on the DNA damage and antioxidant status in cultured human peripheral blood lymphocytes (HPBLs) of individuals residing in the vicinity of mobile phone base stations and comparing it with healthy controls. The study groups matched for various demographic data including age, gender, dietary pattern, smoking habit, alcohol consumption, duration of mobile phone use and average daily mobile phone use. The RF power density of the exposed individuals was significantly higher (p < 0.0001) when compared to the control group. The HPBLs were cultured and the DNA damage was assessed by cytokinesis blocked micronucleus (MN) assay in the binucleate lymphocytes. The analyses of data from the exposed group (n = 40), residing within a perimeter of 80 m of mobile base stations, showed significantly (p < 0.0001) higher frequency of micronuclei when compared to the control group, residing 300 m away from the mobile base station/s. The analysis of various antioxidants in the plasma of exposed individuals revealed a significant attrition in glutathione (GSH) concentration (p < 0.01), activities of catalase (CAT) (p < 0.001) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) (p < 0.001) and rise in lipid peroxidation (LOO) when compared to controls. Multiple linear regression analyses revealed a sig- nificant association among reduced GSH concentration (p < 0.05), CAT (p < 0.001) and SOD (p < 0.001) activities and elevated MN frequency (p < 0.001) and LOO (p < 0.001) with increasing RF power density.
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