Long -Term exposure to Microwave Radiation Provokes Cancer Growth: Evidences from Radars and Mobile Communication Systems

Summary. In this review we discuss alarming epidemiological and experimental data on possible carcinogenic effects of long term exposure to low intensity microwave (MW) radiation. Recently, a number of reports revealed that under certain conditions the irradiation by low intensity MW can substantially induce cancer progression in humans and in animal models. The carcinogenic effect of MW irradiation is typically manifested after long term (up to 10 years and more) exposure. Nevertheless, even a year of operation of a powerful base transmitting station for mobile communication reportedly resulted in a dramatic increase of cancer incidence among population living nearby. In addition, model studies in rodents unveiled a significant increase in carcinogenesis after 17-24 months of MW exposure both in tumor-prone and intact animals. To that, such metabolic changes, as overproduction of reactive oxygen species, 8‑hydroxi-2-deoxyguanosine formation, or ornithine decarboxylase activation under exposure to low intensity MW confirm a stress impact of this factor on living cells. We also address the issue of standards for assessment of biological effects of irradiation. It is now becoming increasingly evident that assessment of biological effects of non-ionizing radiation based on physical (thermal) approach used in recommendations of current regulatory bodies, including the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) Guidelines, requires urgent reevaluation. We conclude that recent data strongly point to the need for re-elaboration of the current safety limits for non-ionizing radiation using recently obtained knowledge. We also emphasize that the everyday exposure of both occupational and general public to MW radiation should be regulated based on a precautionary principles which imply maximum restriction of excessive exposure.


Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) became one of the most significant and fastest growing environmental factors due to intensive development of communication technologies during the last decades. Currently, according to expert estimations, the level of electromagnetic radiation from artificial sources exceeds the level of natural electromagnetic fields by thousand folds. The active development of mobile communication technologies over the world will only raise this level further. In this connection the problem of possible adverse effects of anthropogenic EMR on human health and particularly strictest assessment of possible carcinogenic effects of EMR is extremely important.

In August 2007 an international working group of renowned scientists and public health experts released a report on electromagnetic fields (EMF) and human health [1]. It raised a serious concern about safety limits for public electromagnetic irradiation from power lines, cell phones, radars, and other sources of EMF exposure in daily life. The authors concluded that the existing public safety limits were inadequate to protect public health. Moreover, very recently a vast number of new extremely important studies in this field have been published. Importantly, nowadays the problem is discussed on highest political level over the world. It appears that the most sound political document in Europe is a European Parliament Resolution from April 2, 2009 (http://www.europarl.europa.eu), where the direct appeals to activate the research and business strategy for effective solving of the problem over the member states were indicated.

In this review we would like to analyze the results of studies on specific biological effects of microwaves (MW), both epidemiological and experimental that deal with cancer promotion by long term low intensity microwave irradiation of human/animal beings. We will concentrate on unequivocal studies and will not analyze ambiguous data. For additional analysis of microwave risks we can recommend recently published reviews [2—10].


It is important to note that ICNIRP recommendations have no legal validity, as it is only a recommendation. Each country has their own national legislation in the field of electromagnetic safety, and national limits are rather different in different countries. Some countries such as the USA and Germany conformed national EMR limits to ICNIRP recommendation. Other countries have much tougher national limits as compared with ICNIRP guidelines. For example, for GSM-900 MHz standard MW safety limits are: in Italy, Russia and China ― 10 μW/cm2, in Switzerland ― 4 μW/cm2, in Ukraine ― 2.5 μW/cm2 [1]. As we can see, some countries, including Ukraine, have extremely strict national safety limits. Such national positions are explained first of all by long-term national research traditions in a field of electromagnetic biology, and on experience in studying the non-thermal biological effects of this kind of radiation. On the other hand, some countries like Switzerland follow a strict precautionary principle (Better protect than sorry).

Base transmitting stations.

During the last decades more than one and half million base transmitting stations for mobile communication have been installed over the world. However, the World Health Organization suggested a priority to study effects mainly of cell phones, while discouraging studies on the effects of transmitting stations (with an exception of years 2003—2006 when WHO recommended studies of possible effects of radiation of transmitting stations as well) [44]. This is probably the main reason why only a few publications on this particular problem can be found to date [45—49].

The comparison of cancer cases among people living up to 400 m from base transmitting station and people living further than 400 m from station during 1994—2004 was carried out in Germany [48]. A total increase of cancer cases among people living nearby to transmitting station over the control population was 1.26 times during the first five-year period (1994—1998), and 3.11 times during the second five-year period (1999—2004) of operation of the station. Particularly, in the second period the increase of cancer cases was statistically significant both as compared with the population from more distant area and with the expected background incidence.

Population (n=622) living in the area nearby (up to 350 m) the cell phone base transmitting station (850 MHz, 1500 watt of full power) during one year of operation and matched individuals (n=1222) from other area have been compared In Israel [47]. There were 4.15 times more cases of cancer in transmitted station area than in the rest of a city. Relative cancer rates for females were 10.5 for close to station area, 0.6 for control area and 1 for the whole town. Cancer incidence of women in close to base station area was significantly higher (p<0.0001) as compared with the control area and the whole city. Keeping in mind that very significant increase in a number of cancer cases took place during only one year period, the authors of the study suggested that MW could provoke latent cases of cancer in inhabitants of the area nearby transmitting station.

French and Spanish researchers also revealed that inhabitants living near base station for mobile communication (up to 300 m) developed significantly higher rates of many subjective symptoms of health like headache, fatigue, sleep disorder, depression as compared with the matched control from distant area [49, 50].

Taken together, we state here that nowadays there is enough convincing data to appropriately assert that the long-term exposure to low intensity electromagnetic microwaves can indeed promote cancer development. To that, the official recommendations by ICNIRP and safety limits set by many national regulatory bodies for technical devices emitting microwave radiation, first of all for mobile communication systems, must be re-assessed according to the recent alarming data; and additional studies for unprejudiced risk assessment must be carried out. At present, we strongly suggest for a wide implementation of precautionary principle for everyday microwave exposure that implies maximum restriction of excessive exposure. http://exp-oncology.com.ua/article/1845/long-term-exposure-to-microwave-radiation-provokes-cancer-growth-evidences-from-radars-and-mobile-communication-systems


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