Cool body, hot mitochondria… is there a lesson for wireless radiation exposures?

There is a dogma, propagated by ICNIRP and opposed by BioInitiative, concerning the possible existence, or lack of it, of the non-thermal effects induced by the exposures to cell phone radiation.

There are numerous studies showing biological effects induced by cell phone radiation exposures that should not cause temperature increase. According to ICNIRP such studies are a “glitch” and such effects do not exist, but according to BioInitiative such studies prove existence of non-thermal effects of cell phone radiation.

I am of the opinion that it would be too big of a coincidence that all studies suggesting effects at the so-called non-thermal exposure levels would be a “glitch”. In my opinion such studies indicate that non-thermal exposures cause biological effects but…

In my recent lectures in Australia and Israel I was advocating cessation of the use of terms “thermal effects” and “non-thermal effects” in respect to exposures to cell phone radiation as these cause confusion.

When we are adding energy (cell phone radiation) to the biological system (living matter) there will happen increase of temperature, on the microscale, even if we are currently unable to measure it. What this increase in temperature would be we have no slightest idea. What we are able to measure is the temperature on macroscale – piece of tissue or cells in culture medium. We are unable to measure is the temperature in different compartments of a single living cell.

We do not know whether cell phone radiation is preferably absorbed by some molecules within the cell (water? others?) what might, in turn, cause (metabolically?) microscale changes of temperature that, although we are unable to measure, might affect behavior of molecules, including temperature-sensitive kinetics of enzymes.

On one hand we know that the cell phone radiation does not heat significantly tissue as a whole but we do not know at all whether cell phone radiation has, or has not, any microscale effects on the temperature of subcellular structures of single molecules.

This is why I advocated cessation of the distinction into “thermal” and “non-thermal” effects, in situation when we are unable to measure microscale temperature changes inside cells.

Here is something to think about and to do experiments about…

Recently published study indicates that while the temperature of the biological system might be maintained at comfortable 38 deg. C, the temperature of a single organelles within the cells of that system might be dramatically higher and reach 48 – 50 deg. Celsius (!). And all this is not due to any external factors but simple cellular metabolism.

The abstract of the study says the following (emphasis added by DL):

“…In warm-blooded species, heat released as a by-product of metabolism ensures stable internal temperature throughout the organism, despite varying environmental conditions. Mitochondria are major actors in this thermogenic process. The energy released by the oxidation of respiratory substrates drives ATP synthesis and metabolite transport, with a variable proportion released as heat. Using a temperature-sensitive fluorescent probe targeted to mitochondria, we measured mitochondrial temperature in situ under different physiological conditions. At a constant external temperature of 38 C, mitochondria were more than 10 C warmer when the respiratory chain was fully functional, both in HEK cells and primary skin fibroblasts. This differential was abolished by respiratory inhibitors or in cells lacking mitochondrial DNA, but enhanced by expressing thermogenic enzymes such as the alternative oxidase or the uncoupling protein UCP1. The activity of various RC enzymes was maximal at, or slightly above, 50 C. Our study prompts a re-examination of the literature on mitochondria, taking account of the inferred high temperature…”

In my opinion, this study prompts not only re-examination of the physiology of mitochondria but also re-examination of the issue of “thermal” and “non-thermal” effects of cell phone emitted radiation.

It is possible to hypothesize that the biological effects observed at low-levels of exposure, such as the radiation levels emitted by cell phones, are caused by microscale changes in temperature of organelles and molecules within the living cells. This phenomenon was not examined to date and it is not included in the consideration for the currently enforced radiation emission limits by cell phones and other wireless communication devices.