Curiously, the cancer rate is 10 percent higher in the left breast than in the right. This left-side bias holds true for both men and women and it also applies to the skin cancer melanoma. Researchers Örjan Hallberg of Hallberg Independent Research in Sweden and Ollie Johansson of The Karolinska Institute in Sweden, writing in the June issue of the journal Pathophysiology, suggest a surprising explanation that not only points to a common cause for both cancers, it may change your sleeping habits.
For unknown reasons the rates of breast cancer and melanoma have both increased steadily in the last 30 years. Exposure to the sun elevates the risk of melanoma, but the sun’s intensity has not changed in the last three decades. Stranger still, melanoma most commonly affects the hip, thighs and trunk, which are areas of the body protected from the sun. What is responsible for the left-side dominance and increasing incidence of these cancers?
An intriguing clue comes from the Far East. In Japan there is no correlation between the rates of melanoma and breast cancer as there is in the West, and there is no left-side prevalence for either disease. Moreover, the rate of breast cancer in Japan is significantly lower than in the West; only 3 percent of what is seen in Sweden, for example. The rate of prostate cancer in Japan is only 10 percent of that in the U.K. and U.S.
The researchers suggest an explanation based on differences in sleeping habits in Japan and Western countries. Previous research has shown that both men and women prefer to sleep on their right sides. The reasons for this general preference are unclear, but sleeping on the right side may reduce the weight stress on the heart, and the heartbeat is not as loud as when sleeping on the left. Still, there is no reason to suspect that people in Japan sleep in positions that are any different from those in the West. The beds in Japan, however, are different. The futons used for sleeping in Japan are mattresses placed directly on the bedroom floor, in contrast to the elevated box springs and mattress of beds used in the West. A link between bedroom furniture and cancer seems absurd, but this, the researchers conclude, is the answer.
The first line of evidence they cite comes from a 2007 study in Sweden conducted between 1989 and 1993 that revealed a strong link between the incidence of melanoma and the number of FM and TV transmission towers covering the area where the individuals lived. Despite epidemiological correlations like this one suggesting the possibility that electromagnetic radiation from FM and TV broadcasts stations could suppress the immune system and promote cancer, the strength of these electromagnetic fields is so feeble it has been difficult to imagine any biological basis for the correlation.
Consider, however, that even a TV set cannot respond to broadcast transmissions unless the weak electromagnetic waves are captured and amplified by an appropriately designed antenna. Antennas are simply metal objects of appropriate length sized to match the wavelength of a specific frequency of electromagnetic radiation. Just as saxophones are made in different sizes to resonate with and amplify particular wavelengths of sound, electromagnetic waves are selectively amplified by metal objects that are the same, half or one quarter of the wavelength of an electromagnetic wave of a specific frequency. Electromagnetic waves resonate on a half-wavelength antenna to create a standing wave with a peak at the middle of the antenna and a node at each end, just as when a string stretched between two points is plucked at the center. In the U.S. bed frames and box springs are made of metal, and the length of a bed is exactly half the wavelength of FM and TV transmissions that have been broadcasting since the late 1940s. In Japan most beds are not made of metal, and the TV broadcast system does not use the 87- to 108-megahertz frequency used in Western countries.
Thus, as we sleep on our coil-spring mattresses, we are in effect sleeping on an antenna that amplifies the intensity of the broadcast FM/TV radiation. Asleep on these antennas, our bodies are exposed to the amplified electromagnetic radiation for a third of our life spans. As we slumber on a metal coil-spring mattress, a wave of electromagnetic radiation envelops our bodies so that the maximum strength of the field develops 75 centimeters above the mattress in the middle of our bodies. When sleeping on the right side, the body’s left side will thereby be exposed to field strength about twice as strong as what the right side absorbs.
If this study is correct, the solution is simple: Replace the metal in our beds with a nonmetallic mattress or orient your bed, like an antenna, away from the direction of the local FM/TV transmission tower. Call it high-tech feng shui if you like, but if this new study has not identified the cause of left-side cancer, it will, for some, be the cause of insomnia.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
R. Douglas Fields, Ph. D. is the Chief of the Nervous System Development and Plasticity Section at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. Fields, who conducted postdoctoral research at Stanford University, Yale University, and the NIH, is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Neuron Glia Biology and member of the editorial board of several other journals in the field of neuroscience. He is the author of the new book The Other Brain (Simon and Schuster), about cells in the brain (glia) that do not communicate using electricity. His hobbies include building guitars, mountain climbing, and scuba diving. He lives in Silver Spring, Md.
The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
Most people put their trust in organizations like the Canadian Cancer Society to inform the public about the risks of the dangers of electrical powerlines and cell phones if there is one. If we can’t trust the Doctors that they hire to do research – who can you trust?
Dr. Mary McBride works for the BC Cancer Society and is in charge of studying the effects that cell phones and electrical power-lines have on the human body. Recently, an investigative reporter from the Canadian Television Network aired a news program that found Dr. Mary McBride is in fact – not a doctor! Now all of her research including the Canadian portion of the Interphone Study has come under suspicion because her studies are often funded by the wireless and electrical industries.
Read another article from 1999 to understand how far back she has misrepresented herself as a Doctor on the subject of electromagnetic radiation.
Wednesday, June 16, 1999
Hydro lines pose leukaemia risk in children: report Consistent patterns: Statistics paint picture, but there is no biological explanation
After nearly 20 years of study, Canadian and U.S. scientists have concluded that children exposed to the powerful magnetic fields created by hydro lines are nearly five times more likely to develop leukaemia than infants who are less exposed.
However, while the statistics paint a consistent picture of elevated risk, scientists can point to no biological explanation for what is happening.
Leukaemia is the most common childhood cancer in Canada. About one in 6,400 children under 15 years of age is diagnosed with the disease -- about 300 a year. Childhood leukaemia is fatal if untreated, but about 80% of cases of are now cured.
The studies released today are the most comprehensive since a 1979 report in Denver, Colo., caused widespread concern by linking hydro lines to leukaemia. In the ensuing decades, groups have sought to link the presence of transmission lines to a greater incidence of Alzheimer's disease, depression and birth defects.
But in a major report to Congress, the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences concludes that evidence linking human disease with electricity is "weak."
The sole exception is childhood leukaemia, it says, which study after study has associated with living near a major hydro line.
"These epidemiological studies demonstrate . . . a fairly consistent pattern of a small, increased risk with increasing exposure," the $60-million (US) study said. It was financed by the U.S. Congress, the electrical industry in the U.S. and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
In a separate Canadian study published today, researchers from the University of Toronto and Toronto Hospital for Sick Children appear to confirm the risk.
The researchers measured the magnetic fields in the homes of 201 children diagnosed with leukaemia in the Toronto area between 1985 and 1993, comparing them with those of 406 healthy children. When family relocations, power use and the child's medical history were taken into account, children exposed to high magnetic fields were 4.5 times more likely to develop leukaemia.
"The [power] lines weren't the only things we looked at, because we took measurements inside the home, and we put a personal monitor on a group of the children," said Dr. Lois Green, an epidemiologist at the university's department of public health.
Dr. Green's study is reported in two separate papers in the International Journal of Cancer and the journal Cancer Causes and Control.
Magnetic fields are invisible lines of force that surround all electrical devices and wiring.
In most Canadian homes, the average strength of magnetic fields ranges from 0.5 to 1 milligauss (mG). One mG is equal to 1/1000 the Earth's natural magnetic field. But homes located near heavy transmission lines and utility transformers, or which have poorly grounded wiring, often have a much higher magnetic field.
The Canadian study was funded in part by the Ontario Hydro Services Company and the Canadian Electricity Association.
Some studies quoted in the U.S. report to Congress suggest a dramatic increase in leukaemia risk for exposures between 4 and 5 mG, a strength that is not unusual in urban areas across North America.
For this reason, "industry should continue efforts to alter large transmission lines to reduce their fields, and localities should enforce electrical codes to avoid wiring errors that can produce higher fields," said Kenneth Holden, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Until a biological reason for the association can be found, much skepticism about the statistical risk will remain. [....See guru's discussion below....]
Numerous studies, including a 10-year-long B.C. Cancer Agency study also partly funded by the Canadian Electricity Association and the U.S. Electric Power Research Institute, two lobby organizations for the power industry, found no significant association between magnetic field exposure and leukaemia, although the B.C. study, released in April, did find a link between the number of times a child moved and the disease.
Dr. Mary McBride, an epidemiologist, suggested that frequent moves may expose children to different patterns of viral infections, which may be linked to leukaemia.
"What we're seeing is positive results in some studies but not in others, so inconsistency points against a causal relationship," said Dr. McBride.
The World Health Organization has a web page devoted to EHS and although they recognize the illness, they can’t clearly demonstrate EHS is attributed to electromagnetic fields. This is based upon their pooling together studies that demonstrate that EHS sufferers cannot detect the presence of electromagnetic fields.
What is surprising about this conclusion is that the former director of the World Health Organization, Gro Harlem Brundtland was a medical doctor that was also EHS. During interviews with her at the WHO, she had forbidden journalists from using cell phones in her office because of her EHS (electrohypersensitivity). This news was made public in Norway and Sweden and then a few months later, she had to abandon the leadership of the World Health Organization. Many point to Michael Repacholi and the the cell phone industry as authors of this proscription.
Dr. Brundtland is now very active with the Climate Change issue. Watch this youtube video.
An article by Lucinda Grant who was director of the national support group Electrical Sensitivity Network and author of the books The Electrical Sensitivity Handbook and Workstation Radiation.
This article shows that US and Soviet studies have confirmed the link between chemical and electrical hypersensitivity.
Electromagnetic radiation from power lines and transformers have known to be a cause in childhood leukemia. Children that have recovered often relapse when they are placed back into a home with high magnetic fields. Not all children will get leukemia when living close to powerlines, but it seems that some children that have a specific gene have higher rates of relapse. The National Cancer Institute has identified these genes.
Scientists have identified mutations in a gene that predict a high likelihood of relapse in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Although the researchers caution that further research is needed to determine how changes in the gene, called IKZF1 or IKAROS, lead to leukemia relapse, the findings are likely to provide the basis for future diagnostic tests to assess the risk of treatment failure. By using a molecular test to identify this genetic marker in ALL patients, physicians should be better able to assign patients to appropriate therapies.
The findings of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) study, led by scientists from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn., the University of New Mexico Cancer Research and Treatment Center, Albuquerque, N.M., and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, appear online Jan.7, 2009, in the New England Journal of Medicine, and in print on Jan. 29, 2009.
ALL, a cancer of the white blood cells, is the most common childhood cancer, in that it affects about one in 29,000 children annually. Using currently available therapies, cure rates for ALL are now upwards of 80 percent. However, those therapies carry with them substantial side effects, and even with treatment, only 30 percent of children who experience a relapse of ALL will survive five years. Determining the risk of relapse faced by an individual patient would help physicians tailor treatment intensity appropriately, but until now there has been no good marker for predicting outcome.
“Great progress has been made in recent years in improving the cure rate of childhood ALL,” said Stephen Hunger, M.D., chairman of the COG ALL committee and the lead COG investigator on this study. “The findings of this study help us further subdivide those patients who are unlikely to be cured, and identify patients in whom different therapies should be tested.”
In the study, researchers analyzed genetic data on leukemia cells obtained at diagnosis from 221 children with high-risk leukemia (i.e. a high chance of relapse) who had been treated in an existing COG study. They conducted their analysis using microarrays and DNA sequencing – technologies which allow researchers to quickly and efficiently identify and analyze multiple genes simultaneously in the same cell. Using these technologies to identify genetic abnormalities in leukemia cells, the investigators examined the DNA of the leukemia cells at the time of diagnosis and then determined if any of the identified genetic changes predicted relapse. To confirm that specific genetic changes were associated with relapse, the scientists also examined a second group of 258 children with ALL who were treated at St. Jude.
“We looked across the genome in an unbiased fashion in an attempt to pull out any genes that were significantly associated with outcome,” said Charles Mullighan, M.D., Ph.D., assistant member in the St. Jude Department of Pathology and the paper’s first author. “From these findings, we identified a group of genetic abnormalities that together predicted poor outcome.”
The most significant association was with the deletions or changes in the IKAROS gene. Mutations ofIKAROS were shown to identify a subgroup of patients who were treated in the COG study that had a very poor prognosis. The prognostic significance of these genetic alterations was validated in the independent St. Jude patient group, a finding of particular importance since different types of therapies were used in these two groups of patients.
Previous research has shown that the IKAROS gene serves as the blueprint for the production of theIKAROS protein, which regulates the activity of many other genes. The IKAROS protein plays an essential role in the development of lymphocytes, the white blood cells that, when changed, give rise to pediatric ALL. The way in which IKAROS abnormalities contribute to the development of relapse remains to be determined.
The study also examined gene expression in the leukemia cells using microarray chips, and found that leukemia cells from patients with IKAROS alterations expressed primitive, stem cell-like genes, suggesting that the cells are less mature and possibly more resistant to the effects of drugs used to treat ALL. “These findings show how detailed analysis of leukemic cells using complementary techniques can enhance our understanding of the genetic basis of leukemia,” said co-author Cheryl Willman, M.D., director and CEO, University of New Mexico Cancer Research and Treatment Center.
The researchers also tested whether the presence of IKAROS alterations was associated with levels of minimal residual disease, another measure of treatment response in ALL.
“Measurement of levels of minimal residual disease is widely used to monitor treatment responsiveness and also to alter patients’ therapy if they have a very poor response to treatment,” said James Downing, M.D., St. Jude scientific director and the paper’s senior author. “An important analysis we conducted was to see whether identifying the association of IKAROS alterations with poor outcome added anything to just measuring levels of minimal residual disease. And, indeed, it did.”
The researchers’ analysis indicated that identifying IKAROS alterations may be clinically useful and will complement existing diagnostic tests and measurement of minimal residual disease levels.
While a clinical test for alterations of IKAROS could prove valuable for predicting poor outcomes in children with ALL, complexities remain. There are different types of deletions in the gene, some that involve the entire IKAROS gene and others that involve only parts of the gene. Because the genetic alterations in IKAROS in ALL are not uniform or limited to a single mutation or deletion, it may be necessary to develop a panel of different tests to detect IKAROS lesions and identify which patients are at highest risk for relapse.
This research was done as part of the NCI Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments (TARGET) initiative, which seeks to utilize the study of genomics to identify therapeutic targets in order to develop more effective treatments for childhood cancers. The first two cancers being studied in the program are ALL and neuroblastoma, a cancer that arises in immature nerve cells and affects mostly infants and children. Combined, these two cancers account for 3,000 new cases each year, and in both cancers, there are some children who have a very favorable prognosis and others who are at high risk for treatment failure. By determining the genetic factors that distinguish these groups, the hope is that researchers can use this information to improve patient outcomes and develop better treatments, particularly for those in the high-risk group.
“In the long term, our goal is to develop effective therapeutic interventions, directed toward vulnerabilities that leukemia cells acquire as a result of the genomic abnormalities identified through the TARGET initiative,” said Malcolm Smith, M.D., Ph.D., of NCI’s Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program. These are the first results to come out of this initiative. For more information about TARGET, please visit http://target.cancer.gov
Is his time, Dr. Robert Becker was regarded to be the most well renown scientist who’s work involved demonstrating the healthful and harmful effects of electromagnetic fields on the human body. One of his books, Electromagnetism and Life has now been published for free on the internet and you can view it here:
Risks from electromagnetic devices are of considerable concern. Electrohypersensitive (EHS) persons attribute a variety of rather unspecific symptoms to the exposure to electromagnetic fields. The pathophysiology of EHS is unknown and therapy remains a challenge.
Heavy metal load has been discussed as a potential factor in the symptomatology of EHS patients. The main objective of the study was to test the hypothesis of a link between EHS and heavy metal exposure.
We measured lead, mercury and cadmium concentrations in the blood of 132 patients (n = 42 males and n = 90 females) and 101 controls (n = 34 males and n = 67 females).
Our results show that heavy metal load is of no concern in most cases of EHS but might play a role in exceptional cases.
The data do not support the general advice to heavy metal detoxification in EHS.
Click HERE to read the full study.
OBJECTIVE: Some people report symptoms that they associate with electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure. These symptoms may be related to specific EMF sources or to electrical equipment in general (perceived electromagnetic hypersensitivity, EHS).
Research and clinical observations suggest a difference between mobile phone (MP)-related symptoms and EHS with respect to symptom prevalence, psychological factors, and health prognosis. This study assessed prevalence of EMF-related and EMF-nonrelated symptoms, anxiety, depression, somatization, exhaustion, and stress in people with MP-related symptoms or EHS versus a population-based sample and a control sample without EMF-related symptoms.
METHODS: Forty-five participants with MP-related symptoms and 71 with EHS were compared with a population-based sample (n=106) and a control group (n=63) using self-report questionnaires.
RESULTS: The EHS group reported more symptoms than the MP group, both EMF-related and EMF-nonrelated. The MP group reported a high prevalence of somatosensory symptoms, whereas the EHS group reported more neurasthenic symptoms. As to self-reported personality traits and stress, the case groups differed only on somatization and listlessness in a direct comparison. In comparison with the reference groups, the MP group showed increased levels of exhaustion and depression but not of anxiety, somatization, and stress; the EHS group showed increased levels for all of the conditions except for stress.
CONCLUSION: The findings support the idea of a difference between people with symptoms related to specific EMF sources and people with general EHS with respect to symptoms and anxiety, depression, somatization, exhaustion, and stress. The differences are likely to be important in the management of patients.
Click HERE to read the full research paper.