You have probably seen many articles and videos on our site discussing how RF radiation has been definitively linked with cancer.
Now, according to Louis Slesin in a new article on his widely acclaimed and highly regarded website Microwave News, the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) will soon embark on a new phase of its long-running RF project. Last year, the NTP concluded that RF radiation causes cancer, and will now begin a systematic search for mechanisms to explain how and why the tumors developed. Work is expected to begin by the end of the year.
The research plan is wide-ranging and includes studies on gene expression, oxidative stress, and DNA damage and repair, as well as the possible role played by heat. Other priorities on the NTP’s agenda are studies on behavior and stress.
NTP’s Michael Wyde told Microwave News “We’re optimistic that we can detect changes in gene expression and identify biomarkers of RF effects” Wyde is leading the new project. He will continue to work with John Bucher, the former NTP associate director, who ran its $30 million animal study which showed “clear evidence” that RF radiation can lead to malignant tumors in male rats.
The NTP has already reported finding more DNA breaks —as detected with the comet assay, which is a technique for the detection of DNA damage at the level of the individual eukaryotic cell — among the RF-exposed animals, including in the brain, where rats later developed tumors.
So, how does RF radiation cause DNA breaks?
The fact that the NTP documented DNA damage, according to Ron Melnick, “adds to the credibility of the animal findings. It’s very supportive.” Melnick led the team that designed the NTP study and retired in 2009.
Still missing, however, is how RF radiation causes DNA damage. According to Henry Lai in a recent interview, “The breaks themselves don’t tell you anything about the mechanism at work.” Twenty-five years ago, Lai and N.P. Singh were the first to show that RF radiation can induce DNA breaks —as it happened, in the brains of rats.
It is generally accepted that RF radiation is not powerful enough to break chemical bonds, and therefore is unable to directly tear DNA apart. At the outset, Lai and Singh offered two possible mechanisms: oxidative stress and impaired DNA repair. Oxidative stress is shorthand for the sequence of events that follows an increase in the number of free radicals, which are biologically active molecules that can damage DNA. Alternatively, RF radiation may hinder the cell’s ability to repair DNA breaks, which occur naturally and not infrequently.
In 1997, two years after their original paper, Lai and Singh followed up with strong evidence implicating oxidative stress. When they treated the rats with melatonin —a natural hormone that neutralizes free radicals— before RF exposure, there were no more DNA breaks. If the radiation could indeed generate free radicals, they pointed out, the risks would go beyond cancer to include premature aging, as well as Alzheimer’s, ALS and other neurological diseases.
“If I were to design the project, I would look at the link between oxidative stress and DNA damage. That’s doable.” Melnick said.
A recent review of some 100 journal articles found that more than 90 percent “confirmed that low-level RF radiation induces oxidative effects in biological systems.” It was published in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine in 2016.
NTP’s Wyde said that an important first step will be “to replicate the comet assays” to confirm that RF radiation damages DNA. He cited some uncertainty due to the wide variation in the extent of the breaks seen in the original NTP experiments, and the small number of animals used. If the breaks are replicated, Wyde plans to run additional “more specific and robust assays” to evaluate the DNA damage and repair enzymes.
For this new phase of the RF project, the NTP has again turned to the IT’IS Foundation in Zurich to design and build new reverberation chambers, which are more compact and less expensive than the room-size units built for the original study. As before, these smaller units will also allow animals to move freely while being exposed to 900 MHz or 1800 MHz radiation. Each can house up to ten animals.
The NTP declined to discuss the new exposure setups, stating only that the information would be posted on the NTP RF website in due course. Niels Kuster, the director of IT’IS, confirmed that four new chambers have already been delivered to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences National Toxicology Program Campus in Research Triangle Park, NC.
For the time being, the NTP is planning only on performing animal studies. When asked whether in-vitro RF experiments (using living cells) are under consideration, the NTP communications office replied that their feasibility is “still being assessed.”
In a recent posting on its website, the NTP announced that it is also in the midst of evaluating the literature on the higher frequencies used in 5G.
For more information on this and other important, we cannot recommend highly enough that you visit Louis Slesin’s Microwave News website. For more than 35 years, Microwave News has been reporting on the potential health and environmental impacts of electromagnetic fields and radiation. They are widely recognized as a fair and objective source of information on this controversial subject. Microwave News covers the entire non-ionizing electromagnetic spectrum, with emphasis on mobile phones and power lines, as well as radar and broadcast towers. In addition, they cover medical applications of different types of fields and radiation, as well as the ability of various species to navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field.
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