Do Metal Bed Supports Boost Cancer Rates?

Last week I reported on a study that purported to show RF exposure harmed aspen seedlings. In a posting on Scientific American's blog, R. Douglas Fields explains how metal bed springs and frames can act as antennas. He asserts that the received RF may be the reason that cancer rates are 10 percent higher in the left breast than in the right and that melanoma rates on the left side of the body are higher than on the right.

Fields says the reason for the left side preference in the western world is that most people prefer sleeping on their right side, placing the left side in the peak of the field generated by the bed spring or frame, about 75 cm above the mattress. However, he says that the rate of breast cancer is significantly lower in Japan than in the United States, and does not favor the left side. He notes that people in Japan usually sleep on futons, which do not contain the metal springs or frames; thus the RF power density is not as concentrated.

Fields suggests either replacing the metal in the bed or reorienting the bed away from the direction of local FM/TV transmission towers should be done to minimize RF exposure. Fields is the chief of Nervous System Development and Plasticity Section of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and also an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland.

As with the Aspen study, there are a number of unanswered questions:

  • •How strong were the broadcast fields?
  • •Do VHF signals pose a greater risk than UHF signals?
  • •How far from the broadcast towers were the people that were affected? (In many markets, broadcast towers are located away from population centers on sparsely populated mountains.)
  • •Could cell phone towers, which are more numerous that television or radio broadcasting towers, be the real issue?
Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.