Dr. Weeks’ Comment:
Historical evidence that electrification caused the 20th century
epidemic of “diseases of civilization”
SOURCE: The EMR Policy Institute
A new study published by Samuel Milham, MD, MPH, in the September 2009 issue of the journal Medical Hypotheses reveals that electricity is responsible for most of the so called “diseases of civilization.” Author Milham is the 1997 recipient of the prestigious Ramazzini Award for his contribution to the epidemiology of occupational disease, with particular reference to carcinogenic risk from electromagnetic fields. Milham is a leading international expert in occupational hazards. He published as early as 1979 that electrical workers have increased mortality due to certain cancers.
Dr. Milham’s work is based on decades of government records of deaths and electrification that show electricity has been causing increased mortality from cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and suicide since the beginning of the 20th century.
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 that allowed a detailed comparison of the spread of electricity with death rates. Electrification is clearly associated with increasing rates of disease and death. Urban death rates were as much as 66% 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.
Dr. Milham’s publication suggests that the 20th Century epidemic of the so-called diseases of civilization including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and suicide was caused by electrification not by lifestyle. He also concludes that a large proportion of these diseases may therefore be preventable.
Dr. Milham further comments that: “The explosive recent increase in radiofrequency radiation and high frequency voltage transients sources, from cell phones and towers, terrestrial antennas, WiFi and WiMax telecommunication systems, broadband internet over power lines, and personal electronic equipment may be leading to a new 21st Century epidemic much like the 20th Century electromagnetic field epidemic.” That this new epidemic of morbidity and mortality may be underway is of major concern to Dr. Milham.
The EMR Policy Institute applauds Dr. Milham’s work that brings attention to this emerging public health question. His new paper makes a major contribution towards a better understanding of the human biological effects from exposure to electromagnetic fields across the spectrum.