Does Radiation (EMF & RF) from Modern Gadgets Contribute to ADHD?

Can reducing exposure to radiation from modern gadgets improve ADHD symptoms?

As a parent of four kids, I’m always concerned about their health and happiness. I feel I’m always on duty encouraging (and often requiring) they take care of themselves through good nutrition, physical activity, and healthy leisure time. At the same time, parenting can be overwhelming and draining. When modern technology is so apt to occupy an energetic child’s attention, it’s nice to be able to take a short break while the kids plug into some game or video on a convenient little gadget. Of course, I know how mind-numbing excess screen time can be to kids, but the last thing a parent wants to hear is how those sanity-saving devices might not only be robbing their children’s attention spans, but they also might be frying their ovaries and testicles (your future grandkids!) along with quite literally frying their brains.

However, I also know that ignoring reality doesn’t change reality. That’s why I’ve investigated how gadget radiation (EMF, RF, microwave, etc) affects our children and written about it here so you can pass the benefits onto yourself and your sweet children.

Scientific studies are showing links between radiofrequency radiation (heretofore called “gadget radiation” for simplicity’s sake) and ADHD.

So, how do modern gadgets like cell phones, tablets, WiFi stations, and smart utility meters fry your children’s gonads and brains?

What the science says about ADHD and gadget radiation

One example study showed a statistically significant 55% increased risk of concentration problems in children exposed to the highest amount of gadget radiation:

How is radiation from modern gadgets proposed to be causing or contributing to ADHD?

Gadget radiation affects the body in multiple ways, but the strongest effect of non-ionizing radiation from gadgets appears to be on the nervous system. The nervous system controls thinking, sleep, mood, and more, which is exactly where many anecdotal reports of radiation tend to cluster. It makes sense that the nervous system is the most sensitive to gadget radiation because neurons’ primary role is to function through highly sensitive electromagnetic changes. The brain and nervous system are, after all, highly sensitive electrical equipment that are sensitive to electromagnetic forces.

I’ll discuss three mechanisms whereby gadget radiation may influence ADHD symptoms: neuronal damage, calcium channel stimulation, and sleep disturbance.

Gadget radiation damages neurons and causes hyperactivity in mice

Distinct biochemical effects associated with neuronal damage were shown to be caused in mice by non-ionizing gadget radiation.

Although mice aren’t humans, the difference between humans and mice is beside the point because nervous system functioning is so similar between these species at this level of biochemical study. This and other studies show that non-ionizing gadget radiation damages the brains of animals.

Gadget radiation stimulates calcium channels in the nervous system

One particular component of neurons shown to be directly affected by gadget radiation is the voltage-gated calcium channel, an important component of nerve cells.

These channels are abundant on nerve cells and other excitable cell types in the body. Gadget radiation activates these channels. When these channels are activated, the neuron “fires” or becomes excited. Excitation can lead to overactivity of neurons, with various resulting effects such as attention problems, nervousness, hyperactivity, insomnia, and more. Excessive activation of these channels is a major component of a damaging process called excitotoxicity (damage or killing of neurons through excessive excitation). Excitotoxicity occurs when severely elevated levels of intracellular calcium activates enzymes which can degrade essential cellular structures. In extreme cases, this can lead to stress and death in the nervous system. (Perhaps activation of calcium channels is one mode whereby gadget radiation was damaging neurons of mice mentioned in the previous section.)

People with genetically overactive voltage-gated calcium channels have increased risk of psychiatric problems (like attention difficulties, schizophrenia, bipolar, and more) due to excess calcium penetration of neurons. It makes sense that reported symptoms of gadget radiation are similar to those found in people who have genetically more sensitive calcium channels:

It also makes sense that gadget radiation, which is shown to excite brain cells in a way that increases hyperactivity and lowers attention capabilities, would contribute to ADHD. Especially if someone were genetically more susceptible to that radiation because of a more sensitive calcium channel, for example.

Calcium channel genes (and other mood-related genes) can be tested with the Genecept assay from Genomind (I have no affiliation or connection with them).

Gadget radiation disturbs sleep

Another mechanism whereby gadget radiation may cause ADHD symptoms is through sleep pattern disruption. Disturbed sleep goes hand in hand with ADHD. There is likely some common mechanism or mechanisms causing both disturbed sleep and ADHD, as shown in various studies such as the following.

Many studies link gadget radiation with changes in sleep and/or brain activity during sleep.

How important is avoiding gadget radiation for you or your loved one?

Is taking measures to reduce gadget radiation exposure going to make a difference? The answer is: maybe. Many people anecdotally report significant improvements when they reduce radiation exposures (see here and here for some examples). Others report no noticeable difference. But just because you don’t notice a difference consciously, does that mean it’s not affecting you? Apparently, some people are more sensitive to gadget radiation than others. Perhaps this has to do with individual genetics, nutritional status, or other factors affecting nervous system sensitivity.

However, nobody is completely immune to gadget radiation. Additionally, there is huge variability in how much radiation any one person is actually getting. This variability is due to the fact that radiation sources vary by geographical location (cell towers, appliances, etc) and people are using gadgets in different ways and to varying extents.

Some scientists hypothesize that EMFs (gadget radiation) may be so damaging that they’re the driving force behind the obvious autism epidemic we’re facing. This is an interesting theory in light of the fact that alterations in the calcium channel genes mentioned earlier are associated with increased autism risk (see Support for calcium channel gene defects in autism spectrum disorders). As a side note: I don’t believe gadget radiation to be the primary driving force for most cases of autism because there is powerful scientific evidence incriminating various other pollutants such as air pollution, environmental toxins, antibiotic abuse, infectious agents, and rampant autoimmunity as major contributors to autism.

There are many, many factors causing brain activity disturbances like those found in ADHD, insomnia, depression, anxiety, autism, and more. Although gadget radiation is NOT the primary cause of most ADHD, it may be a substantial contributor to ADHD symptoms depending on the particular person and situation.

How to Minimize Gadget Radiation

Don’t worry, you likely don’t need to go tech-free or move to the middle of nowhere to dramatically lower your radiation exposure. Simply educating yourself about some facts and nuances and making a few changes to your habits and environment are likely sufficient. Minimizing gadget radiation involves locating and minimizing your exposure to:

  • Cell phones
  • Tablets
  • Smart meters (these emit RF radiation) installed on home utility boxes
  • Nearby cell towers
  • WiFi routers
  • Smart appliances
  • Microwaves
  • and more

More information about the nuances of reducing exposures can be found at http://emfsafetynetwork.org/. Simple, easy measures may be all you need to dramatically lower your exposure to gadget radiation.

There are many other health effects of gadget radiation besides nervous system effects

In addition to ADHD links, evidence has been accumulating for decades that cell phone radiation and other forms of modern radiation cause various symptoms and disease, both mild and severe. There are strong links between heavy cell phone and other supposedly-harmless radiation exposure and the following diseases:

Why we shouldn’t be surprised that device and appliance radiation causes disease

Electromagnetic radiation is an environmental pollutant (sometimes call “electropollution” or “electrosmog”) in some ways comparable to all other human pollutants. Unfortunately, many pollutants resulting from technological advancements damage health. These pollutants include:

  • IQ-lowering, brain-damaging mercury and lead from gasoline, industry, and paint
  • Industrial endocrine disruptors that cause infertility, obesity, type 2 diabetes, PCOS, and autoimmunity
  • Carcinogenic (cancer-causing) pollutants of all shapes and sizes
  • Lung cancer-causing asbestos
  • Industrial and automobile air pollution that increases rates of asthma, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and autism.
  • “Light pollution” from electronic screens and light bulbs that confuse the thalamic circadian rhythm and disrupt sleep and brain function.
  • And the list goes on and on.

The reason technological pollutants tend to harm our health is that they present a challenge to the body’s homeostasis mechanisms that our bodies aren’t equipped to deal with. These pollutants, including EMF gadget radiation, have a tendency to create disorder and stress in the human body.

Why you may not have previously heard about gadget radiation affecting health

Unfortunately, the most prevalent belief about gadget radiation has been that it doesn’t affect biology and has little or no effects on humans because it is “non-ionizing.” This belief, however, is absolutely false. Scientists have known for decades that non-ionizing radiation affects biology. And the incontrovertible evidence grows every year. Mounting evidence shows disturbingly more negative effects of gadget radiation on human health. My guess is that because we love our gadgets so much we don’t want to face the possibility that our gadgets are harming us. Additionally, there is a huge, vested economic interest on the part of major corporations and other entities that enjoy the profits of this technology. Are they suppressing public knowledge of the indisputable science behind the damaging effects of EMFs?

The power of WiFi, cellular, and bluetooth certainly seem magical and powerful. Unfortunately, ignoring negative effects of gadget radiation won’t make the negative effects go away, just as a baby covering its eyes won’t actually make the world disappear. Our hope is that we can responsibly develop these technologies so as to reap benefit while eliminating harm to ourselves and our environment.

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About Nicholas Hundley, MS, CNS

Nicholas Hundley is a nutritional biochemist and certified nutrition specialist. He is the main author for the MindWhale blog at MindWhale.com. He practices nutrition and can be found at NicholasHundley.com

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