Radio Frequency Radiation as a possible Cancer Promoter are analogue modulated voice and music emissions safer than pulsed emissions and if so why?   By Dr Chris Barnes, Bangor Scientific and Educational Consultants, September 2013, e-mail


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Evidence in the literature of digital pulsed and analogue TV transmissions as possible cancer promoters is raised and cited. Questions are posed as to how this can be possible? Classic theories of demodulation in tissue and a few experimental bio-effects are reviewed. A brand new hypothesis for demodulation and bio-effects of RF in tissue is raised in terms of thermo-acoustic and/or electro-strictitve pulse interaction at the skin surface and micro molecular mechanic-transduction  via cellular DNA tensegrity matrices, developed and validated in terms of existing experiential and epidemiology results in the contemporary available scientific literate.  Also based on the hypothesis it is possible to speculate that analogue modulated voice emissions may be more innocuous  since human body systems have evolved exposed to the sorts of  time domain mechanical vibrations contained in their envelope. It is also possible to elegantly  explain how RF can be  involved in the promotion of melanoma and cancerous tumours  with seats deeper than RF skin depth according to this hypothesis, notwithstanding the author's previous quantum mechanical model.   Suggestions for further work which could potentially validate the hypothesis are in terms of more detailed epidemiological risk studies with different types of mobile phone base stations than hitherto available and a re-evaluation of the risks of low frequency a.m transmitters is also suggested.




There would seem to be a growing body of evidence that radio frequency radiation may under some specific/limited circumstances act as a cancer promoter, see for example: Barnes, Repacholi etc.[1-3]   



With high levels of RF one can speculate that thermal mechanisms alone may cause cellular growth and proliferation (4).   In such cases modulation may not be particularly relevant. 



Ever since the famous physicist Frolich first proposed that there may be expected to be found coherent oscillations in cells and cellular organelles the search has been on to detect these as either electromagnetic radiation or otherwise.     More and more studies are now detecting very weak emissions of RF radiation from dividing cells.  Their relevance is by way of the logic of cause and effect.  Surely it is logical that if a system is capable of emitting RF, it is capable of receiving and being influenced by the same.


There are numerous mechanisms proposed for the interaction of RF energy with human tissue see Foster (2000)[5] and Challis [2006][6] .  Several of these have been tested in vivo (Lin) [7] and a few in vitro using animal models, see Goodman and Black (2002) [8].


Recently a few popular websites have reported that digitally modulated emissions are potentially more dangerous than analogue emissions particularly if the amplitude of the emission is pulsed intentionally or coincidentally (9,10).  Such information site mainly sprang up with the advent of and with concern for the users of TETRA communications for the emergency services and more recently as digital mobile phone use has continued to grow. 




The questions to be posed are:


1.      Is there any real evidence that pulsed emissions are more dangerous?

2.      Can logical theories be proposed to support the evidence?

3.      Is it just pulsed emissions that are dangerous or could the precise makeup of analogue modulation count?

4.      Is there any evidence that RF signals can be demodulated in tissue?



The remainder of the present paper will discuss these questions in more detail.




Evidence of the danger of pulsed emissions


Auvenien et al 2002 [11] conclude that cellular phone use was not associated with brain tumors or salivary gland cancers overall, but there was a weak association between gliomas and analog cellular phones.

On the other hand Kundi et al report an increased Cancer risk for mobile phone use in general for acoustic neuroma and uveal melanoma[12].


Morton and Phillips have shown TV transmitters to be more associated with cancer promotion than FM transmitters on the basis of their synchronisation pulses (13) and Barnes has recently re-evaluated the work of Dolk and by taking into account pollution levels has showed that the Dolk data is effectively in agreement with the work of Morton and Phillips [14].


It should be borne in mind that the TV transmitters in the Morton study are analogue amplitude modulated transmitters which will as well as a vestigial sideband TV carrier emit frame synchronization pulses at 30 Hz and line synchronisation pulses at  approximately    18.75 KHz.  One cannot therefore necessarily say with any great certainty that it is pulses per se that make TV emissions more potent than FM merely that they are.   It is just as likely that any modulation envelope which contains information ‘alien’ to or not normally interpretable by the human body may cause problems, only given the ability of human tissue to demodulate RF in some way.    This notion will be discussed further below.


DAB and DVB broadcasting are now used in the UK and it will be interesting to see, and only time will tell, if there are to be any changes in UK cancer epidemiology as a result.



Demodulation and bio-effects


Blackman et al 1985 [15]have shown that radiofrequency carrier waves, amplitude modulated at 50 Hz, also display enhanced calcium efflux in chick brains over a narrow power density range.   For this to occur one has to invoke a demodulation process. Kowalczuk et al [16]  have shown theoretically that demodulation can occur in tissues at some levels of bias and at low levels of RF excitation. However, their experimental results on 2nd harmonic generation as an indicator of non-linearity are non –conclusive.


Silny (2007) [17] states that in  the biomedical literature there are a number of reports that speculate about possible effects in the body due to the demodulation of electromagnetic fields. However, only few interactions in amplitude-modulated or even pulse-modulated electromagnetic waves are fundamentally plausible and have been demonstrated to occur in humans. The following observations fall into this specific category: thermal effects of amplitude- or pulse-modulated microwaves; demodulation of amplitude- or pulse-modulated electromagnetic waves in cell membranes; and demodulation of amplitude- or pulse-modulated electromagnetic fields in the electronics of implants such as cardiac pacemakers or cardioverter defibrillators. The possible consequences of these effects for the organism, their probability of occurrence in everyday life field conditions, and, consequently, the implications for limiting exposure are very different. Microwave hearing is a harmless effect which is perceived by humans only in strong fields with high peak power densities of more than 100 mW cm−2. In normal residential or occupational environments the peak power density of even the strongest microwave sources is only around 1 mW cm−2. Demodulation of pulse-modulated electromagnetic fields in the cell membranes decreases the stimulation threshold of nerves and muscles and can introduce numerous adverse effects ranging from perception of pain to dangerous cardiac fibrillations. The stimulation and demodulation effects are restricted to carrier frequencies up to several MHz. In experiments with 900 and 1,800 MHz packets with lengths of up to 100 ms and applied powers of up to 100 W, neither a direct stimulation of superficial nerves and muscles nor the conditioning of an electrical current stimulus could be confirmed. Pulse-modulated electromagnetic waves are demodulated in the electronic circuits of implants and can inhibit cardiac pacemakers and introduce cardiac arrest in this way. The highest sensitivity results from repetition rates of pulses below 100 Hz.


The present author notes that the normal analogue modulation range of the human voice is between 300-3000 Hz. The highest sensitive range above is below the lower limit for the human voice and more consistent with the types of PRF employed in digital communications technology.    


In an important review article Sheppard, Swicord and   Balzano (2008)  [18] show that cell membrane barriers can demodulate RF below 10 MHz.  Further than there can be shifts in the rate of biochemical reactions mediated by radical pairs.




Lawrence and Adey (1982) [19]have stated it is now well established that intrinsic electromagnetic fields play a key role in a broad range of tissue functions, including embryonic morphogenesis, wound healing, and information transmission in the nervous system. These same processes may be profoundly influenced by electromagnetic fields induced by an external force. Tissue exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) and ELF-modulated microwave fields at levels below those inducing significant thermal effects has revealed highly nonlinear mechanisms as a basis for observed effects. Interactions of phonons and excitons along linear molecules may produce nonlinear molecular vibrations in the form of soliton waves. Solitons exist in a minimal energy state and are extremely long-lived in comparison to linear oscillations. Solitons may convey energy released by chemical reactions from one site to another in enzymes of other long-chain proteins. These nonlinear waves may also couple reaction-diffusion processes in the intracellular and extracellular domains. A model is proposed for interaction between excitable tissue and electromagnetic fields, based on nonlinear waves in the cell membrane, with ionic interactions as an essential step. Calcium fluxes in the extracellular space of the central system are modelled by a nonlinear reaction-diffusion system. Membrane molecular solitons may exist in long-chain molecules (Davydov type) and play a significant role in charge transfer; or they may exist as nonlinear waves conveying energy along gel-lipid domains from one protein site to another (Sine-Gordon soliton). Soliton movements occur at subsonic velocities.


Barwin et al [20] have studied the effects of weak electromagnetic fields have been tested on the efflux of calcium from cerebral tissue of chick and cat. The data strongly suggest that the binding and release of calcium occurs cooperatively as the result of long—range interactions between anionic charge sites on the binding substrate.

Extremely low frequency (ELF) fields at frequencies of 6 and 12 Hz and gradients in air of 0.1 to 0.5 V/cm decreased calcium efflux by 12 to 15 per cent. Higher and lower frequencies were without significant effect. For chick tissue, the field threshold in air was 0.1 V/cm and for the cat around 0.6 V/cm. At intensities above and below these levels, effects became statistically insignificant.

With 147 MHz amplitude modulated fields, calcium efflux from chick cerebral tissue increased for modulation frequencies from 6 to 20 Hz, with a maximum of more than 15 per cent. No significant changes occurred at higher or lower modulation frequencies, nor with an un-modulated carrier wave.

With 450 MHz fields amplitude modulated at 16 Hz, increased calcium efflux from chick cerebral tissue occurred at field intensities between 0.1 and 1.0 mW/cm2. No increase was noted above or below these levels.

This series of amplitude and frequency windows is discussed in relation to possible modes of cooperative organization of cell membrane surface glycoproteins in the binding and release of calcium.



Frey has studied numerous recent reports of headaches occurring in association with the use of hand-held cellular telephones. He asks are these reported headaches real? Are they due to emissions from telephones? There is reason to believe that the answer is "yes" to both questions. There are several lines of evidence to support this conclusion. First, headaches as a consequence of exposure to low intensity microwaves were reported in the literature 30 years ago. These were observed during the course of microwave hearing research before there were cellular telephones. Second, the blood-brain barrier appears to be involved in headaches, and low intensity microwave energy exposure affects the barrier. Third, the dopamine-opiate systems of the brain appear to be involved in headaches, and low intensity electromagnetic energy exposure affects those systems. In all three lines of research, the microwave energy used was approximately the same--in frequencies, modulations, and incident energies—as for mobile phones.



Electromagnetic fields can interact with biological tissue both electrically and mechanically. This study investigated the mechanical interaction between brain tissue and an extremely-low-frequency (ELF) electric field by measuring the resultant vibration amplitude. The exposure cell is a section of X-band waveguide that was modified by the addition of a center conductor to form a small TEM cell within the waveguide structure. The ELF signal is applied to the center conductor of the TEM cell. The applied ELF electric field generates an electro-strictive force on the surface of the brain tissue. This force causes the tissue to vibrate at a frequency equal to twice the frequency of the applied sinusoidal signal. An X-band signal is fed through the waveguide, scattered by the vibrating sample, and detected by a phase-sensitive receiver. Using a time-averaging spectrum analyzer, a vibration sensitivity of approximately 0.2 nm can be achieved. The amplitude of the brain tissue vibration response is constant for vibration frequencies below 50 Hz; between 50 and 200 Hz resonant phenomena were observed; and above 200 Hz the amplitude fall-off is rapid.


A brand new hypothesis for demodulation and bio-effects of RF in tissue.


The present author acknowledges all of the above possibilities but wishes to propose an additional mechanism for  the interaction of RF with tissue.  The thermo-eleastic mechanism is normally only considered when it comes to microwave hearing, see Lin and Wang 2007 [21].  Some references suggest that thermoelastic pulses are detected directly in the brain whereas others suggest the cochlea as the active site.  In fact there are two possible mechanisms which can give rise to pressure waves in tissue. One is thermo-elastic and the other is electrostrictive, see [22].



The hypothesis proposed here is that thermo-elastic or electro-strictive  pulses, however small, can cause micromechanical irritation of tissue. Further taking on board the fact that  carcinogenesis research is increasingly focused on chemicals that are not genotoxic and yet, at high doses, can induce cancer, apparently by increasing cell proliferation. I hypothesize that increased cell division per se is stimulated by external or internal factors is also associated with the development of many human cancers. Although this hypothesis is well substantiated by others in the experimental literature, it has not been generalized as an important mechanism for carcinogenesis in human populations exposed to pulsed RF energy. Under this increased cell division model, the pathogenesis of cancer may result from molecular genetic errors induced during the process of cell division and from altered growth control of malignant or premalignant cells. Molecular genetic analysis of human cancers has shown that tumor cells contain multiple genetic defects including mutations, translocations, and amplifications of oncogenes and are reduced to homozygosity for putative tumor suppressor genes; these phenomena all require cell division for their occurrence and fixation. Increased cell division increases the risk of such events occurring. An accumulation of a combination of such genetic errors leads to a neoplastic phenotype. Examples are discussed of human cancers in which increased cell division, which drives the accumulation of genetic errors and can lead to neoplastic transformation, is caused by hormones, drugs, infectious agents, chemicals, physical or mechanical trauma, and other chronic irritation, e.g. RF exposure.


Similarly chronic exposure to low frequency (LF) noise and whole-body vibration (WBV) induces both physiological and psychological alterations in man. Recently, it has been shown that long-term occupational exposure to LF noise and WBV produces genotoxic effects in man expressed as an increase in sister chromatid exchange (SCE) levels in lymphocytes. RF energy pulses with modulation in the LF range when demodulated at the air skin interface by thermo-elastic mechanisms might thus be expected to bring about the same or similar effects.



Ingber (1997) [23] concludes that physical forces of gravity, hemodynamic stresses, and movement play a critical role in tissue development. Yet, little is known about how cells convert these mechanical signals into a chemical response. This review attempts to place the potential molecular mediators of mechanotransduction (e.g. stretch-sensitive ion channels, signalling molecules, cytoskeleton, integrins) within the context of the structural complexity of living cells. His model relies on recent experimental findings, which suggests that cells use tensegrity architecture for their organization. Tensegrity predicts that cells are hard-wired to respond immediately to mechanical stresses transmitted over cell surface receptors that physically couple the cytoskeleton to extracellular matrix (e.g. integrins) or to other cells (cadherins, selectins, CAMs). Many signal transducing molecules that are activated by cell binding to growth factors and extracellular matrix associate with cytoskeletal scaffolds within focal adhesion complexes. Mechanical signals, therefore, may be integrated with other environmental signals and transduced into a biochemical system.




It is proposed here that vibrational interactions occur through a tissue matrix system consisting of the nuclear matrix, the cytoskeleton, and the extracellular matrix that is poised to couple the biologic oscillations of the cell from the peripheral membrane to the DNA through a tensegrity-matrix structure. Tensegrity has been defined as a structural system composed of discontinuous compression elements connected by continuous tension cables, which interact in a dynamic fashion (21). A tensegrity tissue matrix system allows for specific transfer of information through the cell by direct transmission of vibrational chemo-mechanical energy through harmonic wave motion.



It now becomes plausible to see how ‘alien ’  vibrational information may disrupt a bio-system causing either increased cellular division or even sister chromatid exchange.  


The human body is constantly exposed to the sound and vibration of human speech and music and thus analogue modulated RF emissions  at  carrier frequencies greater than about 10 MHz containing a speech or music envelope would perhaps be expected to be relatively benign   compared with digital pulsed emissions and those containing modulation frequencies below 100 Hz i.e.  analogue TV transmissions.  In any event the average power is closer to the peak in an analogue transmission compared with a pulse transmission, so an ‘envelope following’ thermo-elastic expansion is far less feasible in the case of the former. 


 The theory developed above thus is strongly supported by the available experimental evidence to date.   The beauty of the thermo-elastic hypothesis is that it is not non- linear.   In thermo-eleastic  microwave hearing perception depends mainly on pulse duration and is 30 microseconds.  A typical TDMA 217 Hz mobile phone pulse has a .7 second duration , ample time for all sorts of biological response.   One frame of a TETRA signal lasts 56.7mS again ample time for a biological response.  With DVB the time stamp for vision and sound is transmitted at least every 0.7 seconds.  Each frame of DAB is about 40 mS.  Note all these time scales are within biologically relevant periods.  Electro-stricitve mechanical pulses can be generated from RF pulses with even shorter rise times, [22].



Thus I propose following directly from my theory, it now further becomes elegantly possible to understand how there are reported associations of relatively long wavelength RF radiation with uveal melanoma, see Stang et al  [24] and skin melanoma [25,26]  and in tissues  such as breast and prostate  which in some cases would appear to lie at depths within the body beyond the dielectric skin penetration depth of the exciting field.  Notwithstanding with respect to the second aspect, the author's quantum mechanical model [27] also allows this to possible.  



Further work

One way of validating this present, new and novel hypothesis would be via the epidemiology of mobile phone systems, particularly cell phone transmitter type which would need to be studied in great detail as the recent change to more   CDMA   systems as opposed to TDMA may change /reduce risk according to this hypothesis.   Risk of lower frequency a.m transmitters needs to be re-evaluated, since cell membrane rectification may significantly dominate over thermo-elastic effects at low frequency and to some extent at frequencies below 150 MHz.








5.      Foster (2000)


6.      Challis (2005)





11.  Auvenien et al 2002


13.  ·  Morton, W. & Phillips, D. (1983). Radioemission Density and Cancer Epidemiology in the Portland Metropolitan Area, Research Triangle Park, NC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, June 1983. 













26.  Hallberg and Johansson (2004)