Could myelin damage from radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure help explain the functional impairment electrohypersensitivity? A review of the evidence.
J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2014 ;17(5):247-58. PMID: 25205214
Myelin provides the electrical insulation for the central and peripheral nervous system and develops rapidly in the first years of life, but continues into mid-life or later. Myelin integrity is vital to healthy nervous system development and functioning. This review outlines the development of myelin through life, and then considers the evidence for an association between myelin integrity and exposure to low-intensity radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) typical in the modern world. In RF-EMF peer-reviewed literature examining relevant impacts such as myelin sheath, multiple sclerosis, and other myelin-related diseases, cellular examination was included. There are surprisingly little data available in each area, but considered together a picture begins to emerge in RF-EMF-exposed cases: (1) significant morphological lesions in the myelin sheath of rats; (2) a greater risk of multiple sclerosis in a study subgroup; (3) effects in proteins related to myelin production; and (4) physical symptoms in individuals with functional impairment electrohypersensitivity, many of which are the same as if myelin were affected by RF-EMF exposure, giving rise to symptoms of demyelination. In the latter, there are exceptions; headache is common only in electrohypersensitivity, while ataxia is typical of demyelination but infrequently found in the former group. Overall, evidence from in vivo and in vitro and epidemiological studies suggests an association between RF-EMF exposure and either myelin deterioration or a direct impact on neuronal conduction, which may account for many electrohypersensitivity symptoms. The most vulnerable are likely to be those in utero through to at least mid-teen years, as well as ill and elderly individuals.