Electromagnetic Fields Shrink Tumors

New research shows that low-intensity fields can inhibit cancer cell proliferation.

Jan 11, 2012
Bob Grant

Very high magnification micrograph of fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, NEPHRON

Researchers have demonstrated that small doses of electromagnetism can shrink liver and breast cancer cells without harming surrounding tissues, according to a report published recently in the British Journal of Cancer.

An international team, led by University of Alabama at Birmingham oncologist Boris Pasche, has shown that low-intensity electromagnetic fields can slow the proliferation of and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells, which are involved with a deadly form of liver cancer, and breast cancer cells. The researchers used radiofrequency electromagnetic fields that were about 27 megahertz—100 to 1,000 times weaker than the fields generated by cell phones. "This is a truly novel technique," Pasche told The Guardian. "It is innocuous, can be tolerated for long periods of time, and could be used in combination with other therapies."

The new study follows up on clinical work the team published last year reporting the results of a trial done in HCC patients. In August, Pasche and his colleagues published a British Journal of Cancer paper showing that they could slow tumor growth in some HCC patients by treating them with low-level electromagnetic fields on a regular basis. In total, 41 patients received the treatments, which involved holding a spoon-shape antenna connected to a battery-powered electromagnetic field generator in their mouths for one hour, three times a day. After 6 months of treatment, tumor growth in 14 of those patients had stabilized, and none experienced negative side effects.

Pasche told The Guardian that the US Food and Drug Administration had granted permission for him to carry out more trials on larger groups of patients.