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Electromagnetic Fields, Genomic Instability and Cancer: A Systems Biological View
Article

Assessment of Genotoxicity in Human Cells Exposed to Modulated Electromagnetic Fields of Wireless Communication Devices

1
Department of Biomedicine, University of Basel, Mattenstrasse 28, CH-4058 Basel, Switzerland
2
Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine ITEM, Nikolai-Fuchs-Strasse 1, D-30625 Hannover, Germany
3
IT’IS Foundation, Zeughausstrasse 43, CH-8004 Zurich, Switzerland
4
Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to the work.
Genes 2020, 11(4), 347; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11040347
Received: 28 February 2020 / Revised: 20 March 2020 / Accepted: 23 March 2020 / Published: 25 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Induced Genomic Instability)
Modulated electromagnetic fields (wEMFs), as generated by modern communication technologies, have raised concerns about adverse health effects. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies them as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B), yet, the underlying molecular mechanisms initiating and promoting tumorigenesis remain elusive. Here, we comprehensively assess the impact of technologically relevant wEMF modulations on the genome integrity of cultured human cells, investigating cell type-specificities as well as time- and dose-dependencies. Classical and advanced methodologies of genetic toxicology and DNA repair were applied, and key experiments were performed in two separate laboratories. Overall, we found no conclusive evidence for an induction of DNA damage nor for alterations of the DNA repair capacity in cells exposed to several wEMF modulations (i.e., GSM, UMTS, WiFi, and RFID). Previously reported observations of increased DNA damage after exposure of cells to GSM-modulated signals could not be reproduced. Experimental variables, presumably underlying the discrepant observations, were investigated and are discussed. On the basis of our data, we conclude that the possible carcinogenicity of wEMF modulations cannot be explained by an effect on genome integrity through direct DNA damage. However, we cannot exclude non-genotoxic, indirect, or secondary effects of wEMF exposure that may promote tumorigenesis in other ways. View Full-Text
Keywords: electromagnetic fields; DNA repair; DNA damage; genomic instability; genotoxicity; environment and public health; UMTS; GSM; WiFi; RFID electromagnetic fields; DNA repair; DNA damage; genomic instability; genotoxicity; environment and public health; UMTS; GSM; WiFi; RFID
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MDPI and ACS Style

Schuermann, D.; Ziemann, C.; Barekati, Z.; Capstick, M.; Oertel, A.; Focke, F.; Murbach, M.; Kuster, N.; Dasenbrock, C.; Schär, P. Assessment of Genotoxicity in Human Cells Exposed to Modulated Electromagnetic Fields of Wireless Communication Devices. Genes 2020, 11, 347. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11040347

AMA Style

Schuermann D, Ziemann C, Barekati Z, Capstick M, Oertel A, Focke F, Murbach M, Kuster N, Dasenbrock C, Schär P. Assessment of Genotoxicity in Human Cells Exposed to Modulated Electromagnetic Fields of Wireless Communication Devices. Genes. 2020; 11(4):347. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11040347

Chicago/Turabian Style

Schuermann, David, Christina Ziemann, Zeinab Barekati, Myles Capstick, Antje Oertel, Frauke Focke, Manuel Murbach, Niels Kuster, Clemens Dasenbrock, and Primo Schär. 2020. "Assessment of Genotoxicity in Human Cells Exposed to Modulated Electromagnetic Fields of Wireless Communication Devices" Genes 11, no. 4: 347. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11040347

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