I just made a blog post exploring this topic!
Would love to hear what your thoughts & experience have been?
Below is the blog post:
Since upgrading my tracking setup with 2 trackers that both run on Wi-Fi (Withings Body Cardio & Emfit QS), I started wondering if Wi-Fi might be bad for health?
What is Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi is radiofrequency waves, which is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum (just like light). Like other low- to mid-frequency electromagnetic fields, it's non-ionizing, which means it doesn't have enough energy to ionize atoms (detach electrons), and are not known to damage DNA or cells directly[efn_note]National cancer institute (2019), accessed 12. February 2021, https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/electromagnetic-fields-fact-sheet[/efn_note] (unlike UVB rays from the sun[efn_note]American cancer society (2019), accessed 12. February 2021, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/uv-radiation.html[/efn_note]).
Is it harmful?
In 2011 the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic, due to limited evidence of acoustic neuroma & glioma from wireless phone use. [efn_note]International Agency for Research on Cancer (2011), accessed 14. February 2021, https://www.iarc.who.int/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/pr208_E.pdf[/efn_note]
Due to this, World Health Organisation (WHO) conducted a formal risk assessment of the available evidence present until 2016. Over 25.000 articles have been produced over the last 30 years, but according to WHO[efn_note]World Health Organisation (2016), accessed 12. February 2021, https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/radiation-electromagnetic-fields[/efn_note] none have found health consequences from low-level electromagnetic fields (like Wi-fi):
World Health Organizationno adverse health effects from low level, long-term exposure to radiofrequency or power frequency fields have been confirmed, but scientists are actively continuing to research this area.
The exposure from Wi-fi is well below the safety limits[efn_note]Canada (2020), accessed 12. February 2021, https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/health-risks-safety/radiation/everyday-things-emit-radiation/wi-fi.html[/efn_note] and also way lower than the exposure we get through our cell-phones, which are also way below the safety limits[efn_note]National cancer institute (2019), accessed 12. February 2021, https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/electromagnetic-fields-fact-sheet[/efn_note]!
Despite this, other researchers like Magda Havas believe there is sufficient evidence for low-level electromagnetic fields to cause cancer. One of the main arguments from WHO and other international bodies and regulars is that non-ionizing radiation (NIR) like Wi-Fi, only causes damage due to tissue heating in humans, but Magda Havas argues that NIR below the levels of heating still interferes with oxidative repair mechanisms, and thereby can cause oxidative stress, damage to cellular components including DNA, and damage to cellular processes leading to cancer. [efn_note]Magda Havas (2016), When theory and observation collide: Can non-ionizing radiation cause cancer?, Environmental Pollution[/efn_note]
Also, a systematic review of existing literature published in 2019 found radiofrequency waves from Wi-FI to affect the count, motility & DNA of sperm. The main causes were raises in testicular temperature & oxidative stress activity. [efn_note]Farah Hanan Fathihah Jaffar, Khairul Osman, Nur Hilwani Ismail, Kok-Yong Chin, Siti Fatimah Ibrahim (2019), Adverse Effects of Wi-Fi Radiation on Male Reproductive System: A Systematic Review, The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine[/efn_note]
How to stay safe?
Since most of the potential harm comes from heating and oxidative stress, these are what we need to take care of.
The power density from electromagnetic radiation decreases proportionally to the square of the distance. So holding a cell-phone next to your ear exposes you much more than having it at a distance. Obviously, the duration of exposure is also important. [efn_note]BC Centre for Disease Control (2013), accessed 14. February 2021, http://www.bccdc.ca/resource-gallery/Documents/Guidelines%20and%20Forms/Guidelines%20and%20Manuals/EH/EH/Section14Final06062013.pdf[/efn_note]
Managing oxidative stress can among other things be achieved through diet. [efn_note]Andy Wai Kan Yeung, Nikolay T. Tzvetkov, Osama S. El-Tawil, Simona G. Bungǎu, Mohamed M. Abdel-Daim and Atanas G. Atanasov (2019), Antioxidants: Scientific Literature Landscape Analysis, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity[/efn_note]
- Wi-Fi is a type of non-ionizing radiation, which means it can't directly damage your cells or DNA.
- In 2011 it was classified as possibly carcinogenic by International Agency for Research on Cancer.
- However, in 2016 World Health Organisation looked at the existing literature and found no evidence that long-term low-level exposure is damaging.
- Despite this, other researchers disagree and say it can cause cancer indirectly through oxidative stress and hurt sperm through heat & oxidative stress activity.
- To be on the safe side:
- Limit duration of exposure.
- Maximize distance to the emitters of radiofrequency. (Because the power density decreases proportionally to the square of the distance)
- Manage oxidative stress, for example through nutrition.