Could Pulsed Electronically Generated Electromagnetic Fields Cause Alzheimer’s?

Summary: Pulsed electronically generated electromagnetic fields (EMFs) used for wireless communications produce electric and magnetic forces that act in the body’s cells by activating voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs). VGCC activation induces changes that increase intracellular calcium levels. Researchers link EMF exposure to changes that lead to excessive intracellular calcium. This could have implications for the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: Bentham Science Publishers

For almost a quarter of a century, researchers have been studying and publishing on the effect of calcium on Alzheimer’s Disease. Research has led to the development of the calcium hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease, which argues that Alzheimer’s is caused by excessive intracellular calcium.

Calcium causes changes to the brain

Calcium build-up in cells results in diverse range of changes in the brain. There are two significant changes that develop conditions for Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Specific increases in the amyloid precursor protein, BACE1 and amyloid beta protein aggregates
  2. Less specific neurodegenerative changes including hyperphosphorylated tau protein and neurofibrillary tangles, cell death produced by apoptosis or by destructive autophagy, synaptic dysfunction produced by changes in neuronal structures required for synapsis between brain neurons, oxidative stress and inflammation

EMFs and Calcium build up

Pulsed electronically generated electromagnetic fields (EMFs) used for wireless communication are coherent producing strong electric and magnetic forces that act in the cells of our bodies primarily via activation of voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs). VGCC activation produces rapid increases in intracellular calcium levels. 

Therefore, EMF exposures produce changes with lead to excessive intracellular calcium. This buildup explains the effects on the brain in Alzheimer’s disease.

These EMF induced changes to intracellular calcium levels have been demonstrated in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease. Research has shown the involvement of two pathways that lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Each of the two pathways producing pathophysiological effects following EMF exposure are important in Alzheimer’s causation: the excessive calcium signaling pathway and the peroxynitrite/oxidative stress/inflammation pathway.

Professor Martin L. Pall, at the Washington State University has been studying this phenomenon for a decade. “EMFs act via peak electric and time varying magnetic forces at a nanosecond time scale.”, says Professor Pall. Such peaks are vastly increased with each increase in pulse modulation produced by smarter cell phones, smart meters, smart cities and radar in self driving vehicles. “Any of these may produce the ultimate nightmare – extremely early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.”

These findings provide powerful evidence that EMFs can cause Alzheimer’s disease. Human and animal studies add still more evidence to the calcium hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease.

A look at some more evidence

Professor Pall summarizes the evidence in a recent review in Current Alzheimer Research.

Human genetic and pharmacological studies show that elevated VGCC activity causes increased Alzheimer’s incidence. Consequently, it is not just calcium that is important.  VGCC activity, which is directly greatly increased by EMF exposure, is also important in causing Alzheimer’s.

12 recent occupational exposure assessments have found that people having occupational EMF exposures have higher Alzheimer’s incidence.  Some studies suggest that EMFs shorten the normal 25-year latency period of Alzheimer’s disease.

Earlier occupational exposure studies (in the 1970s and 1980s) showed that neurological / neuropsychiatric reported effects, associated with EMF exposures, developed cumulatively, such that longer times of exposure to the same EMFs, produced more severe effects. This parallels cumulative effects in neurodegeneration.

The age of onset of Alzheimer’s has decreased over the past 20 years or so, with the timing corresponding to the large recent increases in wireless communication EMF exposures.  Recent studies report age 30 to 40 Alzheimer’s cases.

Very young people who are exposed to cell phone or Wi-Fi radiation for many hours per day may develop digital dementia.

El-Swefy et al, in 2008, showed that 2 hours per day very low intensity mobile phone base station (cell phone tower) radiation produced massive neurodegeneration of the brains of young rats.  34% of the brain cells died in 4 weeks.  11 measured brain changes and 4 observed behavioral changes were each greatly lowered by the VGCC calcium channel blocker amlodipine. 

These findings show is that EMFs most of us are exposed to every day, acted via VGCC activation to produce universal massive, extraordinarily rapid neurodegeneration in young rats.  The researchers did not examine any Alzheimer’s specific brain changes. 

However, Jiang et al. (2013 & 2016) looked at EMF pulses in rats found Alzheimer’s specific changes but also some less specific changes in the hippocampus, a brain region which is heavily impacted in Alzheimer’s.

Jiang 2013 exposed rats to a series of EMF pulses in one day to 2-month old rats, finding apparent universal Alzheimer’s effects in 20 month old rats (roughly the equivalent of 42-year-old humans coming down with near universal Alzheimer’s). 

This shows cell phone towers
These EMF induced changes to intracellular calcium levels have been demonstrated in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease. Image is in the public domain

The 2016 paper exposed the rats to EMF pulses once a day, causing Alzheimer’s at 10 months of age (similar to 21-year-old people with extremely early onset Alzheimer’s). Both El-Swefy and Jiang found massive neurodegeneration in young rats simply from exposing them to EMF pulses.

What needs to be done?

Three types of studies are urgently needed to be performed by independent scientists:

1. Brain marker surveys of Alzheimer’s disease and MRI brain scans for abnormalities among young people who show signs of digital dementia.

2. EMF exposures assessments for pre-diagnosis environments for people aged 30 to 40 who have been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. These assessments should compare phone and cell phone tower radiation, Wi-Fi radiation, smart meter and dirty electricity radiation levels with normal controls.

3. Examinations for early signs of Alzheimer’s disease among people living near small cell antennae for a year or more.

“Findings from each of these studies should be shared with the general public”, says Professor Pall, “so that everyone can take the steps necessary to reduce the incidence of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.”

About this Alzheimer’s disease research news

Author: Noman Akbar
Source: Bentham Science Publishers
Contact: Norman Akbar – Bentham Science Publishers
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: Closed access.
Low intensity electromagnetic fields act via voltage-gated calcium channel (VGCC) activation to cause very early onset Alzheimer’s disease: 18 distinct types of evidence” by Martin L. Pall. Current Alzheimer’s Research


Low intensity electromagnetic fields act via voltage-gated calcium channel (VGCC) activation to cause very early onset Alzheimer’s disease: 18 distinct types of evidence

Electronically generated electromagnetic fields (EMFs), including those used in wireless communication such as cell phones, Wi-Fi and smart meters, are coherent, producing very high electric and magnetic forces, which act on the voltage sensor of voltage-gated calcium channels to produce increases in intracellular calcium [Ca2+]i.

The calcium hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has shown that each of the important AD-specific and nonspecific causal elements is produced by excessive [Ca2+]i. [Ca2+]i acts in AD via excessive calcium signaling and the peroxynitrite/oxidative stress/inflammation pathway, which are each elevated by EMFs.An apparent vicious cycle in AD involves amyloid-beta protein (Aβ) and [Ca2+]i.

Three types of epidemiology suggest EMF causation of AD, including early onset AD. Extensive animal model studies show that low intensity EMFs cause neurodegeneration, including AD, with AD animals having elevated levels of Aβ, amyloid precursor protein and BACE1.

Rats exposed to pulsed EMFs every day are reported to develop universal or near universal very early onset neurodegeneration, including AD; these findings are superficially similar to humans with digital dementia.

EMFs producing modest increases in [Ca2+]i can also produce protective, therapeutic effects. The therapeutic pathway and peroxynitrite pathway inhibit each other. A summary of 18 different findings is provided, which collectively provide powerful evidence for EMF causation of AD.

The author is concerned that smarter, more highly pulsed “smart” wireless communication may cause widespread very, very early onset AD in human populations.

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  1. For those criticizing and attacking the peer-review process, researchers, author, and/or editors of this piece, why do you fail to mention the MANY other publications that have connected low level, chronic microwave radiation to Alzheimer’s diseases, the disruption of the blood brain barrier, and other devastating effects on the normal rodent and human brain? Dr. Pall was not the first to make the connection and he most certainly will not be the last!

    Zhang X, WJ Huang, WW Chen. Microwaves and Alzheimer’s disease. Exp Ther Med. 2016 Oct;12(4):1969-1972. doi: 10.3892/etm.2016.3567.

  2. Quite frankly, it is so wonderful that you covered this topic because Alzheimer’s is a really insidious disease and the reasons for its development are not fully studied. To tell the truth, I am not surprised that the age of onset of Alzheimer’s has decreased over the past 20 years because this disease is progressing and there are a lot of factors which can affect an early development of Alzheimer’s. It is so important that you mentioned digital dementia because really often people don’t even think about it and don’t consider the possibility of acquiring this disease, but it can be really serious. I think that it is essential to realize the impact of gadgets on our brain and memory because it is colossal. Digital devices lower cognitive abilities and negatively affect a person’s verbal skills, but really often we simply neglect this information. Mentioned research is a direct confirmation of it.

  3. As an example of the very poor quality of Pall’s review, he discusses at length a 2008 paper by El-Swefy (his endnote 61, available on the Internet at In that strange study, the investigators measured *magnetic* fields near a cellular base station using an instrument that is completely unsuitable for measuring *radiofrequency* fields, and throughout the paper confuse low-frequency magnetic fields with RF fields. The RF dosimetry is completely absent.

    Pall — and this article – presents the study as somehow bearing on risks of RF energy from cellular base stations. Neither Pall nor the present journalist acknowledge the egregious error in the El-Swefy study. Not only is Pall engaged in egregious cherry-picking, but the quality of the cherries he has picked is very poor.

    The bottom line: never trust a RF bioeffects study that uses grossly inappropriate equipment to measure exposure and is confused about elementary facts of electric and magnetic fields, and never trust a scientific reviewer who misses such egregious errors.

    Just one of many examples. Pall’s article, and this journalistic piece, should both be retracted.

  4. A credulous report of a very poor paper. The original paper should never have passed peer review.

  5. The frequency and power level are significant. If it is weak enougy, no harm. If it strong enough, it will cook you.

  6. If true,this study is potentially disruptive in multiple ways. But, so far, at least, it has gone virtually unnoticed. Nor do I see any mention of Dr. Akbar’s professional qualifications. So it’s hard to know how seriously to take the papers conclusions.

      1. Akbar is a liar. Bentham isn’t a trusted publisher. This is all speculation and there’s not even a characterization of what low intensity is. Usually when I read rat studies on the subjects they’re using comparatively high emf relative to any human device. By not showing a number here demonstrates their obfuscation.

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