Emf Effects On Cancer, Melatonin And Tamoxifen

sent in by Shivani Arjuna

In 1992 the European Parliament passed resolution B3-0280/92 which included in part:

“E: whereas the results of many in vivo and in vitro studies show increasingly clearly that the interaction mechanisms underlying such disorders and diseases [cancer, nervous disorders and circadian rhythm changes], centred mainly in the cell membrane, lead to disruption of melatonin secretions, ornithine decarboxylase activity and T-lymphocyte efficacy, testify to the probable role of non-ionizing radiation in promoting cancer,” ….

The 1981 WHO report in part concludes:

“Effects have been reported at power densities too low to produce biologically significant heating.”


“The general population includes persons of different ages (infants, small children, young adults and senior citizens) and different states of health, including pregnant women. The possible greater susceptibility of the developing fetus to microwave/RF exposure may deserve special consideration. Exposure of the general population should be kept as low as possible and limits should generally be lower than for occupational exposure. In view of the fact that data are still required to clarify interaction mechanisms and determine threshold levels for effects, it is recommended that microwave and RF exposure of occupationally exposed workers and the general population should be kept as low as readily achievable.” …..

“Existing standards, lacking appropriate use of epidemiological data, are not sufficient to provide a reasonable level of protection against long-term cancer hazards or against symptomatic, or physiological effects of R.F. radiation. This is in part because of the failure to evaluate currently available epidemiological information. Omission of critical studies occurs, as well as acceptance of a superficial conclusion concerning the meaning of the studies which were cited. The standards do provide a reasonable level of protection against thermal effects. ….

“Epidemiological studies, although quite limited in number, provide evidence of an association of long term exposure to RF/microwave and lower frequency EMFs and cancer incidence. Although a number of different cancers have been reported to result from such exposure, leukemia and brain cancer appear to be the most prevalent.” ….

Below are excerpts from a longer article found at: This Link


This is crucial infomation for anyone with breast cancer, or any form of cancer. Electromagnetic fields have been found to increase the growth rate of cancer and to block the anti-cancer action of melatonin, tamoxifen, calmodulin antagonist W-13 and antiestrogen ICI 182,780.

Tamoxifen, which is the most widely used therapy for treatment of breast cancer, has proven effective in treating breast cancer in its early stages and is also used by over one million women throughout the world who have had breast cancer, to prevent its recurrence. Although tamoxifen is not as effective as melatonin in inhibiting the growth of MCF-7 breast cancer cells in vitro , the drug has been shown to be about 100 times more effective in inhibiting breast cancer cell growth if the cells have first been pre-treated with a physiological concentration of melatonin.

Research reported in 1993 by Liburdy, et al. found that melatonin reduces the growth rate of human breast cancer cells (MCF-7) in culture, but that a 12mG 60 Hz magnetic field can block the ability of melatonin to inhibit breast cancer cell growth. (5)

Examined in this report are five in vitro studies, from three major laboratories, using human breast cancer cell cultures, with results showing that low level powerline frequency magnetic fields in the order of 12 milligauss can block melatonin and/or Tamoxifen’s ability to suppress breast cancer cells.

It is this body of laboratory evidence and the three human exposure studies also mentioned herein, that have significant implications for the successful treatment of breast cancer and calls for immediate action from researchers and oncologists alike. The failure to do so, under the excuse of “more research needs to be done” is not acting in the best interests of breast cancer patients, to say the least.

In June 1996 at the 18 th. Annual Meeting of the Bioelectro-magnetics Society (BEMS), the following three studies were presented. When these three studies are added to recent research presented at the Second World Congress for Electricity and Magnetism in Biology and Medicine, held in Bologna Italy, in June of 1997, there now exists an important body of scientific research in relation to breast cancer and electromagnetic fields.


(J.D. Harland and R.P. Liburdy. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA.) from this study:

In addition, all field magnitudes of 12 mG or higher that have been tested thus far (12mG, 20mG, 1Gauss) have been effective at blocking melatonin.” ( 6 ). A lower field of 2mG did not have any significant effect, suggesting a threshold might exist between 2 and 12 mG.


C.F.Blackman, S.G. Benane, D.E. House and J.P. Blanchard. National Health & Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, USA.

This study was specifically designed to attempt to replicate the previous study, with the cooperation of the originating laboratory. The results independently confirmed the previous study’s findings that a) Melatonin can inhibit the growth of human breast cancer cells MCF-7 in culture, and b) A 12 mG 60 Hz magnetic field can completely block melatonin’s oncostatic action.


(S.M.J. Afzal and R.P. Liburdy. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, USA.)

This study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that ELF and VLF magnetic fields associated with Video Display Terminals (VDT’s) influence human breast cancer cell growth in vitro by altering melatonin’s natural oncostatic activity. This hypothesis was based on the findings of the two previously mentioned studies.

The conclusions of this study appear to suggest that 12 mG VDT magnetic fields also inhibit the oncostatic action of melatonin in vitro and that the magnetic field component was the operative factor in the 12 mG 60 Hz exposures. Preliminary data from two seperate experiments indicated significant growth inhibition (33% and 22%) on day 6 in the 2 mG magnetic field conditions.(8 )


(J.D. Harland, M.Y. Lee, G.A. Levine, R.P. Liburdy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, USA.)

from this study: RESULTS: We observe a blocking effect of a 12 mG magnetic field of the pure antiestrogen ICI 182,780 This blocking effect appears to be even greater than that seen for tamoxifen: from 18% inhibition at 2 mG, to 15% enhancement of growth at 12 mG. However we also find that the 12 mG field has an even greater inhibition of the calmodulin antagonist W-13, from 16% inhibition at 2 mG to 28% enhancement of growth at 12 mG

Future research will be directed at further characterizing the specificity of the 12 mG field interaction”

Some studies have suggested that EMF effects on melatonin may depend on whether the field is continuous or intermittent. Reif and Burch found that magnetic fields in the home that were “temporally coherent”(less intermittent) had a very significant association with lower melatonin levels at night. They concluded that, “The intensity and temporal characteristics of magnetic fields appear to be involved in melatonin suppression.”

If environmental EMF’s, and electric blanket use are a confounding factor, this should be possible to check by questioning the subjects on their habits, maybe even taking home and workplace EMF exposure readings. If some participants are found to be exposed to prolonged EMF exposures in the order of 2 to 12 milliGauss, there appears to be a dose-response relationship from 2 to 12 milliGauss) it may be advisable to recommend avoiding these exposures. Since the studies examined in this paper found no effect at 2 mG, this may be a safe level to aim to keep prolonged exposures under.

It may also be advisable to do actual measurements of melatonin levels in those subjects identified as being prone to breast cancer. Women with breast cancer have shown a lower nocturnal increase in melatonin levels than control women.

Even a cursory review of the main data set shows a 53% increase in leukaemia incidence at magnetic field exposure levels above 2 mG; a 72% increase (which is statistically significant) above 3 mG; and a more than 600% increase at exposures of between 4 and 5 mG.

As to the role of cancer promoters, Dr. Robert O.Becker in his book, Cross Currents states: “Cancer promoters, however, have major implications for the incidence of cancer because they increase the number of cases of cancer that become evident. We are constantly exposed to cancer-causing agents in our environment ranging from carcinogenic chemicals to cosmic rays. As a result, we are always developing small cancers that are recognised by our immune system and destroyed. Any factor that increases the growth rate of these small cancers gives them an advantage over the immune system, as a result more people develop clinical cancers that require treatment.” Therefore, it would be fair to say that in the situation of residential and occupational exposures, where cancer patients are routinely being exposed to levels in the order of 12 mG, the necessity of avoiding these exposures is paramount.

Since the recent World Conference on Breast Cancer, held in Ontario Canada, there is an increasing overseas awareness that EMFs are a risk factor with breast cancer, but at present there are no figures as to the degree of risk. In relation to breast cancer patients, an important first step is to determine how many are being exposed to EMFs of the order of 2 to 12 mG? An important initial step would be to conduct detailed surveys of groups of breast cancer patients to build up a profile of any prolonged exposures in relation to the 12 milligauss level. If we take 2 mG as a no-effect level and 12 + mG as a definite level of effect, we could get some idea of the percentage of participants who are most likely at increased risk from this exposure. Ideally such a survey would be conducted independently in several countries, using the same criteria and results then compared.

The outcome of this would be to develop effective advice for patients to avoid exposures, which can come from many sources, such as electric blankets, electrically heated water beds, improperly grounded home wiring, in-floor electrical heating systems, older computer monitors, flourescent lighting systems, occupational exposures, etc.

Although this paper only deals with powerline EMFs, electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from radiofrequency and microwave emissions are also now being implicated in breast cancer.

Besides some epidemiological studies, such as one showing a significant increase in breast cancer for female radio operators, there is evidence that breast cancer tumors absorb significantly more EMR than other cancers, or healthy tissue.

To quote from one study, conducted at Duke University, North Carolina, USA, in 1993.

“In general, at all frequencies tested [50 to 900 MHz], both conductivity and relative permittivity were greater in malignant tissue than in normal tissue of the same type. For tissues of the same type, the differences in electrical properties from normal to malignant were least for kidney (about 6% and 4% average differences over the frequency range in permitivity and conductivity, respectively), and these differences were the greatest for mammary gland (about 233% and 577% average differences in permittivity and conductivity, respectively) (27)

The ability of breast cancer tumors to absorb significantly more EMR than normal tissue should be of concern when compared to an official joint statement, made in the Information sheet, Safety of Mobile Phones and Towers – The Answers (Nov.1995) by the Australian Radiation Laboratory, Spectrum Management Agency, Austel and the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation, (under the heading, “Is Cancer an issue?”)

“There is yet insufficient scientific knowledge of many aspects of health effects of radio waves. One common question is: Do radio waves from mobile phones increase the risks of cancer? The answer is that there is no experimental evidence that radio waves directly cause cancer. Laboratory studies on animals suggest that where cancer exists, radio waves may accelerate its growth.”

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