…final update, added on October 24, 2019, is available at the end of this blog post…
Yesterday, October 21, 2019, the ‘Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis‘ has published the peer-reviewed article of the effects of RF on DNA, obtained in the US NTP animal toxicology study.
As reported in the Microwave News, the NTP study authors concluded:
“[S]ignificant increases in the levels of DNA damage measured by the comet assay were seen in several tissues from rats and mice, indicating that RFR may be capable of causing increases in DNA damage.”
While the results of the NTP study appear to be reliable, and BRHP-blog reported the first findings already in 2016 ( here ), we should not jump to any premature conclusions about the possible DNA-damaging (?) effects of RF exposure.
What the NTP study has found is the increase in the amount of damaged DNA in cells exposed to RF. However, it still is not known what caused the appearance of the damaged DNA. The NTP study did not look for the mechanism, causing increased amounts of damaged DNA in RF-exposed cells. This will be the topic of the future, already planned, research.
There are at least three possible options to explain the increase in the amount of damaged DNA:
- an unknown yet mechanism
- actual DNA damage caused by free radicals generated by RF exposure
- DNA “damage” occurred spontaneously and has nothing to do with the RF exposure, and the accumulation of the spontaneously “damaged” DNA was caused by RF-induced impairment of the cellular DNA repair pathways
About the plausibility of the first two potential mechanisms of DNA damage we do not know anything yet. However, the third option of the “damage” unrelated to RF exposure finds some support in the study on the DNA damage caused by the ELF-EMF exposures. As Focke et al. (Mutation Research, 2010) have shown, the increased amounts of “damaged” DNA in ELF-EMF exposed cells were caused not by the ELF-EMF but were result of ELF-EMF-induced inhibition of the repair of the spontaneously damaged DNA.
Summa summarum, it is known that the exposures to RF-EMF and to ELF-EMF correlate with the increase of the amount of damaged DNA in cells. In case of ELF-EMF it was shown that ELF-EMF exposure itself (directly or indirectly) does not cause DNA damage but it inhibits DNA repair mechanisms. Whether it is, or not, similarly the case with RF-EMF, requires further study.
In conclusion, what is known about the RF-EMF impact on DNA (see slide below) is not enough to claim mutagenicity or genetoxicity, yet. Of the paramount importance is to find out what happens to the “damaged” DNA – is it repaired or is it inherited by the next generations of cells.
Genotoxicity describes the property of, chemical or physical, agents that damages the genetic information within a cell. This genotoxic damage may cause mutations, which may lead to cancer. However, while all mutagens are genotoxic, not all genotoxic substances are mutagenic.
In respect to the NTP study:
- The authors do not know if RF is really genotoxic. Observed DNA damage might have been “damaged” spontaneously, what happens in cells all the time, and not by RF. Thus, their claim of genotoxicity of RF is premature and is lacking scientific evidence.
- The authors do not know what happens to the “damaged” DNA, is it repaired or does it turn into mutation, hence, the authors have no idea whether RF is, or not, mutagenic. Also, not every mutation equals cancer.
- What the authors have shown is the increase in the amounts of “damaged” DNA that while correlate with the RF exposure are by itself not a proof of causality. As long as there is no answer as what caused the DNA “damage” and what is the fate of the “damaged” DNA, judging the physiological significance of this observation is not possible.
RESEARCH NEEDS TO CONTINUE…