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by David Perlmutter, M.D.

In these days of hand-held cellular phones, personal computers, and an abundance of other electronic devices, the general public seems to be at least marginally concerned about the possible health risks of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

In 1995, attention was drawn to the possible link between EMF exposure and Alzheimer's disease following a landmark publication in the American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. Subsequently, these researchers confirmed a direct relationship between occupations exposing individuals to higher levels of EMFs and the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Their report revealed a substantial increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in individuals whose occupations exposed them to higher-thanaverage levels of EMFs. The occupations determined to be "high risk" included electrician, machinist, machine operator, seamstress, sheet metal worker, typist, keypunch operator, machine shop worker, and several others. The risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in these individuals was calculated as four times higher than the general population. Subjects evaluated were at least 65 years of age at the time of their first examination and their recorded occupations reflected what they had been doing up to 40 years prior to their evaluation and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

It is critical to recognize that the research data reflected levels of electromagnetic exposure long before our population began using "cell-phones", personal computers, and the like.

How exposure to electronic devices may lead to Alzheimer's disease is unclear. Several authors have indicated that the electromagnetic radiation produced by electronic equipment enhances the formation of beta amyloid, a protein known to be prevalent in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Exactly how electromagnetic radiation increases beta amyloid is unclear, but it is clear that this protein enhances brain inflammation, now known to be the primary cause of brain degeneration in this disease.

Perhaps because influences like electromagnetic radiation and toxic chemicals in the environment cannot be seen or perceived, there is reluctance by mainstream medicine to recognize potential health risks associated with these factors. Typically, when these topics are raised, a common response by defenders of the status quo seems to be "there is no peer reviewed literature supporting these outlandish claims." But in reality, that is simply not the case. The journal in which this research was published is the "Official Journal of the American Academy of Neurology," perhaps the most wellrespected, peer-reviewed journal dealing with neurological disease in the world. Somehow it seems that articles linking environmental factors with disease, much like research dealing with the impact of nutrition on health, are generally overlooked in favor of concentrating on pharmaceutical approaches to treating the illnesses they cause.

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