This paper details the theoretical base and the experimental research that demonstrates how EMFs can affect the concentration of radicals, change the growth rate of cells and ultimately lead to biological effects, such as aging, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
Some Effects of Weak Magnetic Fields on Biological Systems: RF fields can change radical concentrations and cancer cell growth rates
By Frank Barnes and Ben Greenebaum
IEEE Power Electronics Magazine
Two long time leading researchers, Frank Barnes and Ben Greenebaum, offer theoretical arguments to explain how low-level RF radiation can alter the growth rates of cancer cells. Frank Barnes, Senior Member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, and his students have researched and published some fascinating indications that weak magnetic fields can either increase or decrease the growth of cancer cells and bacteria depending on specific conditions. Barnes was also Chair of the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council Committee on the Identification of Research Needs relating to Potential Biological or Adverse Health Effects of Wireless Communication Devices in 2007 which found significant gaps in research.
Co-author of this important paper is Professor Emeritus of Physics, Ben Greenebaum, who also served as editor in chief of the peer-reviewed journal Bioelectromagnetics from 1993 to 2006. In this 2016 article published in IEEE Power Electronics Magazine, they propose a hypothesis that long-term exposure to weak magnetic fields can lead to elevated radical concentrations and an association with aging, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
Their theory indicates that low-level, long-term EMF exposures involve radicals, such as superoxide, nitric oxide, and hydrogen peroxide, which is readily converted into the radical OH-. These molecules contain unpaired electron spins that are highly reactive. Furthermore, these molecules are bifunctional in that they can serve as both signaling molecules and molecules that can cause damage to important biological molecules, such as lipids and DNA. The damage that unpaired reactive radicals can induce includes a host of inflammatory processes typical of aging, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. Their work provides an important theoretical foundation and new experimental data showing that long-term exposures to relatively weak static, low-frequency and RF magnetic fields affect free radical concentrations in biological systems.
“The proposed hypothesis, which is based on extensive work by others,… is that weak magnetic fields change the rate of recombination for radical pairs that are generated by the metabolic activity in cells, which, in turn, change the concentration of radicals such as O * 2 – and molecules such as H2O2. Most of the time, the signaling properties of these molecules generate antioxidants and other radical scavengers so that damaging health effects are not seen, and, in some cases, positive effects, such as the activation of the immune system, may be observed. However, long-term exposure to elevated magnetic fields can lead to elevated radical concentrations and an association with aging, cancers, and Alzheimer’s. This hypothesis is supported by some theoretical and experimental results.”
“We have shown that both a theoretical base and the experimental results exist, demonstrating that weak static, low-frequency, and/or high-frequency magnetic fields can affect the concentration of radicals. There are also results that indicate that weak magnetic fields can change the growth rate of cells. However, there are many experiments where no changes are seen. This, we believe, is due to the many feedback and repair processes in the body. Droge  has shown in Figure 7 how extended elevations of ROS and nitrogen oxide species lead undesired biological effects, such as aging, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.”
Frank Barnes (Frank.Barnes@colorado.edu) is a distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2001 and received the Gordon Prize 2004 for innovations in Engineering Education from the National Academy. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has served as vice president, Publication Activities of the IEEE and as the chair of the IEEE Electron Devices Society. He and his students have built lasers, flash lamps, superconductors, avalanche photo diodes, and other electron devices as well as working on the effects of electric and magnetic fields on biology. Recently, they have shown that weak magnetic field can both increase and decrease the growth rate of two kinds of cancer and E.coli. His other work includes energy storage for renewable energy and the integration of wind and solar energy into the grid.
Ben Greenebaum (email@example.com) is emeritus professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. He has been engaged in research on biological effects of electromagnetic fields on biological systems since 1972, primarily collaborating on experiments on cellular and subcellular systems. He was an editor of the peer-reviewed journal Bioelectromagnetics from 1993 to 2006.