EMF Exposure May Cause Alzheimer’s Symptoms
EMF exposure may cause Alzheimer’s symptoms. Scientists have concluded that the dramatic rise of Alzheimer’s in the last decade and the explosion of the wireless revolution in the same time frame are definitively linked.
When a person is suffering from Alzheimer’s, abnormal changes are taking place in the brain. The cause of the disease begins with nerve cells, responsible for learning and memory functions, which become damaged and eventually die. As a result, certain aspects of brain functioning that control memory, behavior, personality, and other bodily functions, can be lost.
Over time, Alzheimer’s disease progresses through three main stages: mild, moderate, and severe. Each stage is characterized by a collection of symptoms and behaviors.
Mild Alzheimer’s Symptoms: People with mild Alzheimer’s symptoms often seem healthy, but they are actually having trouble making sense of the world around them. Early signs of Alzheimer’s disease may include:
• Difficulty learning and remembering new information
• Difficulty managing finances, planning meals, taking medications on schedule
• Depression symptoms (sadness, decreased interest in usual activities, loss of energy)
• Difficulty with some activities, such as driving a car
• Gets lost going to familiar places
Moderate Alzheimer’s Symptoms: In the moderate stage, the damaging processes occurring in the brain worsen and spread to other areas that control language, reasoning, sensory processing, and thought. Signs of the disease become more pronounced and behavioral problems may become more obvious. Signs and symptoms of moderate Alzheimer’s disease may include:
• Forgetting old facts
• Continually repeating stories and/or asking the same questions over and over
• Making up stories to fill gaps
• Difficulty performing tasks
• Difficulty following written notes
• Agitation, restlessness, repetitive movements
• Paranoia, delusions, hallucinations
• Deficits in intellect and reasoning
• Lack of concern for appearance, hygiene, and sleep become more noticeable
Advanced Alzheimer’s Symptoms: In the advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease, damage to the brain’s nerve cells is widespread. At this point, full-time care is typically required. For friends, family, and caregivers, this can be the most difficult stage. People with severe Alzheimer’s disease may have difficulty walking, and they often suffer complications from other illnesses, such as pneumonia. Severe Alzheimer’s symptoms may include:
• Vocalizations such as groaning, screaming, mumbling, or speaking gibberish
• Behavioral symptoms
• Refusing to eat
• Inappropriately crying out
• Failure to recognize family or faces
• Difficulty with all essential activities of daily living
Although Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. The likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s doubles about every five years after age 65. After age 85, the risk reaches nearly 50 percent.
Another risk factor for Alzheimer's Disease is family history. Research has shown that those who have a relative with Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop the disease. The risk increases if more than one family member has the illness.
There also appears to be a strong link between serious head injuries and the future risk of Alzheimer’s. Further evidence correlates brain health to heart health. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s appears to be increased by many conditions that damage the heart or blood vessels. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
Linking Alzheimer’s and EMF Exposure
Studies have now focused on yet another important possible risk factor: exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMFs). A number of these studies have concluded that people working in locations with high-EMF exposure are considerably at risk in developing Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
• In the late 1990s, epidemiological studies in the US and in Sweden were conducted by Dr. Eugene Sobel and colleagues of the USC School of Medicine. In the November 1996 issue of Neurology, Dr. Sobel reported a four-fold increase in the risk of AD for people who had worked in occupations with medium to high exposure to EMFs. In particular, seamstresses who used industrial sewing machines appeared to be particularly vulnerable. (1)
• In 1996, Dr. Maria Feychting of Stockholm reported the results of her study at the Department of Energy’s annual research review in San Antonio. Studying people 75 years and younger with AD, she found that those who had worked in occupations with higher EMF exposures were five times more likely to develop AD. She expressed that she was surprised by her own results - that she had expected no association at all. (2)
• Also in 1996, researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati and at Johns Hopkins University conducted a broad study which raised the correlation between AD and EMF exposure in the work place. The report revealed higher death rates from AD and motor neuron diseases among occupations that could have exposure to EMFs, such as TV and radio station employees, power plant workers, electricians and telephone installers. (3)
• A few years later in 2007, Dr. Sobel teamed with Dr. Zoreh Davanipour in a second paper. They cited experiments conducted by numerous researchers, in which EMF exposure led to a rise in intracellular calcium ion concentrations. They described how this change could increase production of a protein that plays a significant role in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. (4)
• In 2007, a meta-analysis of the studies done on occupational links to Alzheimer’s was conducted by Ana Garcia of the University of Valencia, Spain. She reported that the combined data from 14 different occupational studies showed that, in general, being exposed to EMFs on the job doubled the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. (5)
EMF Exposure through Power Lines
Research has been conducted correlating living near power lines and AD. In 2005, a compelling study led by Anke Huus, at the University of Bern, on power lines and Alzheimer’s reported that “people living within 50 meters of a high voltage power lines were more likely to die with Alzheimer’s. The longer they lived near a 220-380 kV power line, the greater the risk.” The odds of dying with Alzheimer’s were twice the expected rate after 15 years of exposure. (6)
Dr. Martin Roosli, also at the University of Bern, conducted a study two years later with Swiss Railway employees and came to similar conclusions. This study also drew conclusions about dose-response (risk increasing over time). Dr. Roosli expressed that he was surprised by the results. (7)
Cell Phones and Alzheimer’s
Cell phone radiation and Alzheimer's are linked. Swedish professor, Leif Salford, conducted a study in 2003, which concluded that cell phone radiation damages areas of the brain associated with learning, memory, and movement, and may trigger Alzheimer’s symptoms.
The researchers studied rats, aged 12-26 weeks, because their brains are seen as being in the same stage of development as teenagers, who are some of the heaviest users of cell phones. Rats are animals with a brain similar to the human brain, as they have the same blood-brain barrier and neurons. The researchers exposed the rats to two hours of radiation - equivalent to that emitted by mobile phones - a day for 50 days. Upon examination at the end, the researchers found an abundance of dead brain cells in the rats that had been exposed to medium and high levels of radiation.
Professor Salford said that mobile phones could have the same effect on humans. “We have good reason to believe that what happens in rats’ brains also happens in humans.” Salford tells us, and he adds that there is a chance that exposure to mobile phone radiation could trigger Alzheimer’s Disease in some people.
“What we are saying is those neurons that are already prone to Alzheimer’s Disease may be stimulated earlier in life…we cannot exclude that after some decades of often daily use, a whole generation of users may suffer negative effects maybe already in their middle age.” (8)
EMF Exposure and Alzheimer’s Symptoms
More research needs to be done to arrive at conclusive evidence about the part that EMF exposure plays in triggering Alzheimer’s symptoms and the onset of the disease. Recent studies certainly give rise to certain precautionary steps we can take to either lessen the symptoms in someone already struggling with the disease, or to prevent its onset in ourselves.
Avoiding excessive EMF exposure, both at home and in the workplace, certainly seems to be a priority. Also, finding EMF protective devices that can help shield us is a good idea. Experiencing Alzheimer’s symptoms can be frightening. When we can limit our EMF exposure, why take chances?
(1) Neurology, 1996
(2) Epidemiology, July 2003, Vol 14, Issue 4
(3) American Journal of Public Health September 1996
(4) Occupations with exposure to electromagnetic fields: A possible risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease, Eugene Sobel, et al.
(5) Occupational exposure to extremely low frequency electric and magnetic fields and Alzheimer disease: a meta-analysis, Ana M. Garcia, et al.
(6) Residence Near Power Lines and Mortality from Neurodegenerative Diseases: Longitudinal Study of the Swiss Population, Anke Huus, et al.)
(7) Neuro Epidemiology, Vol 28, No. 4, 2007
(8) Environmental Health Perspectives, Jan. 2003