Electrification caused “diseases of civilization”

September 2009. Dr. Sam Milham, MD, has been researching the health effects of electromagnetic exposure for decades and his most recent paper, which appeared in the September issue of the Journal of Medical Hypotheses, is particularly disturbing. See summary below.

In the 1940s, there was a discrepancy between electricity use in rural vs urban centres in some US states. This allowed Milham to compare death rates for various diseases and relate them to the degree of electrification.

In states with 96% or more electrification, and hence little difference in electrification between rural and urban regions, there was no consistent pattern and little difference in the rural/urban death rate (see figure 5 below). However in states with less than 60% electrification, and most of that in urban centres, the death rate was significant higher in urban areas than in rural areas (figure 5). Similar trends were reported for deaths attributed to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and suicide.

Figure 5

Milham then calculated the percent urban excess for these deaths as follows: All deaths 20.9%; suicide 29.5%; coronary disease 33.7%; all cancers 49.2%; and diabetes 66%. If this urban excess is due to electrification then we have a very serious health issue that needs to be addressed.

This important paper needs to be taken seriously by government health departments. Other scientific studies confirm these findings although none of them shows such dramatic results.

Doctors and scientists can readily understand how chemicals may either help or harm the body since we have a long history of chemicals and their biological effects both in terms of the healing effects of medication and the harmful effects of chemical pollutants. Indeed, we attribute the increase in the “diseases” of the 21st century to some combination of chemical toxicants (for example cigarette smoking and heart disease, asbestos and mesothelioma), or biological agents (such as the flu virus, bacterial infection, parasites, mould), and some combination of lifestyle choices (diet and exercise).

Few take into consideration the impact that the electromagnetic environment has on our health. For some reason the only harmful aspects of electromagnetic energy that are widely accepted include excess UV radiation leading to melanoma, x-rays and cosmic radiation contributing to various types of cancers, the heating effect of microwaves, childhood leukemia and magnetic fields, and light at night reducing melatonin levels and possibly contributing to breast cancer. Apart from these, it is assumed that electricity and the wireless technology that surrounds us is totally benign. How absurd!

The sooner we recognize that electromagnetic energy can both harm and heal the sooner we will be able to address many of the health issues we are facing today. We desperately need an infusion of information and/or a paradigm shift in the way health care professions, doctors, medical schools, and medical scientists understand and deal with electromagnetic energy. This understanding will come. My hope it that is comes sooner rather than later so that we can more effectively alleviate some of the causes of human suffering.
-magda havas

Historical evidence that electrification caused the 20th century epidemic of ‘‘diseases of civilization”

Samuel Milham, Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, WA, USA Medical Hypotheses, September 2009 in press.

Summary: The slow spread of residential electrification in the US in the first half of the 20th century from urban to rural areas resulted by 1940 in two large populations; urban populations, with nearly complete electrification and rural populations exposed to varying levels of electrification depending on the progress of electrification in their state. It took until 1956 for US farms to reach urban and rural non-farm electrification levels. Both populations were covered by the US vital registration system. US vital statistics tabulations and census records for 1920–1960, and historical US vital statistics documents were examined. Residential electrification data was available in the US census of population for 1930, 1940 and 1950. Crude urban and rural death rates were calculated, and death rates by state were correlated with electrification rates by state for urban and rural areas for 1940 white resident deaths. Urban death rates were much higher than rural rates for cardiovascular diseases, malignant diseases, diabetes and suicide in 1940. Rural death rates were significantly correlated with level of residential electric service by state for most causes examined. I hypothesize that the 20th century epidemic of the so called diseases of civilization including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes and suicide was caused by electrification not by lifestyle. A large proportion of these diseases may therefore be preventable.
2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.