With special reference to some key papers, the importance of making sure co-carcinogens and/or co-promoters are not missed and is EMF the same as ELF and RF in Cancer Studies Association and Epidemiology ?   By Dr Chris Barnes, Bangor Scientific and Educational Consultants.  E-mail doctor.barnes@univ.bangor.ac.uk


Dr Barnes' Homepage Link  http://drchrisbarnes.co.uk





A brief definition of electromagnetic and radio frequency terms is given as in they are presently applied to cancer association and epidemiology studies.  The relevance of the terms and various electromagnetic field components relative to the near and far field of an electromagnetic signal are discussed.  Quantum mechanical considerations may mean we might need to look again at bio-effects in the far field. Different users of the electromagnetic spectrum  find themselves in different parts of the radiation field depending on frequency and different potential hazards mat apply depending on bio-absorption mechanism. Several key papers are analysed and briefly reviewed from which it becomes clear  that possibly for 60 Hz and low radio frequencies in strong electric fields cancer associations are the same or at least very similar both in terms of observed cancer types and excess risk by odds ratio.   The danger of overlooking co-factor either initiators or promoters is highlighted.   Finally it show that for certain types of radar (microwave) signal there is no excess risk in the absence of thermal effect.






It is first necessary to define the terms.  In school and university texts EMF usually stands for Electromotive force.  However, in texts relating to the bio-effects of electromagnetic radiation across the spectrum from a few Hz up to tens of GHz, EMF is then, as in the present publication, taken to mean Electromagnetic Field.


ELF is taken to mean electromagnetic radiation at frequencies of a few Hz up to a few tens of KHz and RF (radio frequencies)   is often taken to mean electromagnetic radiation at frequencies such as those use for commercial, military, emergency service, marine, citizens band, PMR (private mobile radio), mobile phone, WIFI and amateur communications and broadcasting spanning a wide swathe of frequencies from about 100KHz up to about 2.6   GHz



These terms are often used interchangeably by scientists, science writers, journalists and those purporting to be concerned about possible dangers of electromagnetic radiation.     



One purpose of this present work is to explain why it is both dangerous and incorrect to mix these terms. The explanation presented will consider mechanisms of interaction of electromagnetic energy with biological systems, near and far field effects and quantum mechanical effects.



A second equally important and perhaps indivisible consideration is to show the importance of making sure co-carcinogens and/or co-promoters are not missed either in studies which are primarily designed to show cancer association with electromagnetic energy fields or in making sure  the presence of such fields are not missed in studies which seek to find unknown initiators or promoters.  



Near and far field


Various and quite numerous epidemiological studies by both occupation and geographic location can be found in the literature purporting to report the effects of EMF, ELF, RF and even microwave.   Terms are often used interchangeably. 


However, dependent on what is studied, the subjects may be in the near, far or even transitional field of the source.  For instance with power lines or electric wiring the subject is always   the near field and thus electric (E) and magnetic fields (H) can be regarded as acting separately, and fluctuating wildly, particularly   over the first tenth of a wavelength.   The same would go for ELF transmitting antennas.



At the other end of the spectrum with TV and mobile phone base station antennas affected subjects are almost entirely in the far field with E and H either mutually orthogonal (vertical or horizontal polarization) or rotating around each in space (circular polarisation) but with their amplitudes in phase effectively feeding off each other,   At the transmitting antenna E and H are usually 90 degrees out of phase. 



From a traditional point of view in the far field the wave is travelling or propagating with a free space impedance of approximately 377 ohms. Because the beam spreads in area rather like a torch beam the inverse square law pertains.   Thus the naïve interpretation of risk is that if RF is a carcinogen or a promoter  the further from the transmitter the safer one ought to be.   



In terms of models for bio-effect the most accepted model seems to be that voltage rectification could occur because of   non-linear cell membrane polarisation but only at frequencies below 10 MHz.  However, there are some animal studies to suggest this could be as high as 150 MHz or even 450 MHz.   According to this model the E-field would be most relevant.



An often forgotten part of an electromagnetic wave is the A-field or so called magnetic vector potential. In a vacuum the A –field is inseparable with the EH field. However, in a real material E and H are slowed in velocity by the dielectric constant of the material but A continues at the speed of light.  This is the quantum mechanical interpretation of electromagnetics   and requires reference to the electromagnetic AB effect and alternative solutions of Maxwell’s equations and a true description of the electromagnetic field (1).     Although conceptually difficult the author’s’ quantum mechanical explanation   of RF bio-interaction predicts modulation bio –transfer information hotspots at quantised geometric positions in space even in a weak RF field (2,3).   There are emerging new hypotheses based on magnetically alerted cellular water structures (4,5) which could tie in with both the author’s theoretical predictions and the observation of bio-effect in plants and trees and even cancer in humans at certain geographical locations with respect to transmitting antennas.



With mobile phone and WIFI use, users will sometimes find themselves in the near field of their handset or laptop, sometimes in the transitional field and sometimes in the far field so a particularly complex picture emerges. 



With radio hams, CB users, military and ships radio operators they will usually find themselves using frequencies between about 1-50 MHz and will often inevitably be within the near field of their antennas which often have very large local E fields. Thus a good comparison with effects of lower frequency E-fields from  power cables might be possible.



The Key Papers


The present author views the following as key papers: Miller et al (1996) (6);  Villeneuve et al (2000) (7) ; Milham Jr. (1987) (8) ; Saarni et al (2002) (9); Groves et al (2001) (10)


With regard to what we would traditionally view as EMF, Miller deals with occupational exposure of utility workers to 60Hz magnetic and electric fields. They state that odds ratios for hematopoietic malignancies are raised with cumulative exposure.  For some reason Lymphatic malignancies are not considered. Odds ratios for all kinds of leukaemia were raised (4.45) but the 95% confidence interval was an enormous range.   No explanation was attempted as to why there was more influence of electric field than magnetic field.  Based on the above the membrane rectification Calcium efflux model might fit the bill.  However, one should not forget that power lines also concentrate pollution an important source of potential co-initiators and/or co-promoters.


Miller shows some correlation with magnetic field also. However, it must be remembered that certain theoretical considerations suggest huge magnetic fields of the order of 6G might be needed to alter calcium efflux. Yet this is in direct conflict with experimental work duplicated in two laboratories    which show much more subtle field effects in brain tissue in vitro(see Blackman et al 2005) (11). 



Villneuve (7), also considers 60Hz fields.  This time an association with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is considered. Excess odds ratios are shown over certain threshold electric field intensities.  Odds ratios of 3.05 and 3.57 are indicated for field intensities of 10V/m  and 40 V/m respectively with less spread in the 95% confidence intervals.  Taken with the work of Miller (6) this is highly suggestive that at least for 60 Hz EMF electric fields seem most relevant in association with both blood and lymphatic cancers. 




Regarding RF, Milham (8) considers mortality in US Radio Amateurs for a five year period to December 31st 1984.     Milham lumps his conclusion under the blanket term

 “electromagnetic field” exposure.  Results are  considered in terms of standardised mortality ratios from which odds ratios can be approximated.  The OR’s calculated   here are about 2.3 for Lymphomas about 1.8 for leukaemia but particularly elevated at about 2.6 for AML (Acute Myeloid Leukaemia). 



Of all the studies this study needs treating with some caution, as previously highlighted by Crane (1988) (12  ). The present author also wishes to point out, firstly: not all radio amateurs are equally active. Secondly, a vast range of frequencies from ELF to UHF are employed.  Thirdly, many radio amateurs construct their own equipment and thus potentially are exposed to other fields (60Hz) and chemicals (13), possibly dioxins  (14) and PCBS (15)  from transformers and capacitors (16).  Dioxins are documented to be able to cause NHL(14).      Nevertheless, most radio hams although transmitting  with current fed antennas are exposed to significantly high levels of near field and hence large electric fields, but they also often have large transformers and high voltage power supplies in their ‘shacks’ (17).


By far the majority of radio ham operation is in the 3.5-30 MHz range i.e. low RF frequencies. There is some suggestion then that the association for EMFS at these frequencies as seen by Milham Jr is similar to that for 60Hz being suggestive of a relatively frequency independent process.



The key paper of Groves et al  (10) is interesting in that it shows no significant association of cancers for military radar operators. Radar being predominantly microwave, this suggests that there may be a high frequency cut off point above which the mechanism giving ELF/RF electric field association with cancer breaks down.   The author has discussed these mechanisms in detail elsewhere.  No detail is known of the radar pulses involved but according to the author’s mechano-receptor model if the PRF is high and the pulse width is small then there is predicted to be no bio-interaction unless heating takes place (18) .  This is exactly as is observed. 




Finally the paper of Saarni et al (9)  is relevant for a very different reason.  It  concludes that there are increased risks amongst others for leukaemia and possibly lymphoma for deck crews on Finnish ships between 1967 and 1992 but cannot really find a relevant reason. It fails to consider the possible relevance of RF radiation at all. Thus the present author would wish to point out that although these days ship to shore communication is via satellite.  However in the era considered by Saarni,  most ships had high power MF/SW radio transmitters.  Saarni et al appear to be fishing for reasons why deck hands have different cancers from engine room operatives having totally overlooked the possibility of RF radiation.



It is quite simply proposed here that deck hands are far closer to the electric fields from the ships' transmitting antennas.  Surely if other factors on the ships were involved the engine room workers would have increased risks of more cancers and not just mesothelioma?  The reason they don’t being proposed here is that the engine rooms formed a grounded Faraday cage preventing electric field exposure. 






The above critique shows reasonable evidence of an association between NHL and AML with electric fields between 60Hz and 30 MHz.  Only to that end EMF, ELF and RF  may possibly  be regarded as interchangeable terms in Cancer epidemiology studies notwithstanding the effects of cofactors such as power line concentrated atmospheric pollution and chemicals which radio hams and radio technicians may be routinely or randomly exposed to.  



There appears to be no association of non-thermal microwave radar pulses with cancer. Given skin depth phenomena this is perhaps hardly surprising but  is at odds with some mobile phone studies.  One way of reconciling this is by using  the author's 'tensegrity' model wherein a PRF under 200 Hz and pulse durations of at least 30 microseconds and preferably tens of milliseconds  are required, see Barnes (18). 





1.      Theories without AB effect Misrepresent the Dynamics of the Electromagnetic Field Murray Peshkin   http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-4684-5221-1_39

2.      GB 1113174.5 A method and apparatus for more accurate prediction of locations in the vicinity of transmitting antennas or base stations wherein occupants or other life forms face maximum deleterious bio-effect.

3.       Active Prediction of Sites Prone to the HUM by Aharonov- Bohm   Criteria,  http://www.drchrisbarnes.co.uk/HUMPRED.htm

4.       Colic and Morse ( 1999) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0927775798008942

5.      Mae-Wan-Ho 2011 http://www.paolobellavite.it/files/1107quantumwaterho.pdf

6.      Miller et al (1996) http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/144/2/150.short

7.      Villeneuve et al (2000) http://oem.bmj.com/content/57/4/249.short

8.      S.Millham Jr (1987) http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/127/1/50.short

9.      Saarni et al (2002)   http://pubmedcentralcanada.ca/pmcc/articles/PMC1740353/pdf/v059p00613.pdf

10.  Groves et al 'Cancer in Korean War Navy Technicians..' Groves et al (2001) http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/155/9/810.short

11.  Blackman et al (2005) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bem.2250060402/abstract;jsessionid=1292B410CF311B35174F5CF5AA6E53D9.d03t03?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false

12.  Crane (1988) http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/128/5/1175.extract

13.  Clapp et al (2007) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332207001710

14.  Collins et al  http://msdssearch.dow.com/PublishedLiteratureDOWCOM/dh_06e6/0901b803806e6d07.pdf?filepath=dioxin/pdfs/noreg/737-10006.pdf&fromPage=GetDoc

15.  Engel ET AL (2007)  http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/16/3/373.full

16.  Kraus ET AL (2012) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22994578

17.  ARRL publication http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Technology/RFsafetyCommittee/8910031.pdf

18.  Barnes (2013) http://www.drchrisbarnes.co.uk/RFAS.htm.