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Magnetic Fields May Actually Fight Cancer

April 24, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Nuclear Medicine
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Manipulation of the low-level magnetic fields that surround us may inhibit—or encourage—the growth of certain types of cancers, according to Carlos Martino, PhD, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Dr. Martino presented some of his work on Monday at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in San Diego. He and his colleagues explore the effects of low-level magnetic fields on human biochemical reactions. His research, he said, shows that exposure to fields well below international limits does still have biological effects. He added:

This raises the concern of safety issues.

Dr. Martino was quoted in an American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology news release via EurekAlert!

Humans are continuously bathed in magnetic fields—the earth’s, for example, which is a quasi-static field, fluctuating only slightly. Others include static fields, such as those from permanent magnets, and weak radiofrequency magnetic fields, such as those given off by cell phones.

“We clearly see effects both in vitro and in vivo in the low level and radiofrequency magnetic field range,” Dr. Martino said. That, he said, calls into question whether the exposure standards should be adjusted.

However, some weak magnetic fields may be good for us. Dr. Martino and his colleagues have shown that weak radiofrequency magnetic fields inhibit tumor growth in animal models, he said. And the researchers found that reduction of the Earth’s magnetic field inhibits growth rates of lung fibrosarcoma cells, colorectal cancer cells, and primary endothelial cells.

Magnetic therapy needs to be approached cautiously. Dr. Martino said low-level magnetic fields may modulate the production of reactive oxygen molecules, which affect cellular proliferation and survival. But the same fields seem to increase the growth rate of pancreatic cancer cells. So one magnet does not fit all.

Still, the research does raise some intriguing possibilities. For example, how about a range of cell phone apps designed to generate specific types of radiofrequency magnetic fields to treat specific diseases? Maybe even new portable electronic devices designed to fit and treat certain areas of the body—iDoctors, perhaps?

Related seminar: ALARA-CT (As Low As Reasonably Achievable)

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