Do Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Cause Diabetes?
We hear of diabetics who are going through their houses and removing the compact fluorescent bulbs, after hearing that a study shows that they exacerbate diabetes. Mike Adams of Natural News calls the double-blind study "the litmus test used in the medical profession to verify that a study is legitimate." The highly respected Canadian Broadcasting Company's Geeta Nadkarmi picked up on the story and suddenly it is on facebook. Is there any substance to it?
It is apparently due to exposure to "dirty electricity" or "electrosmog", and is based on a study in 2008 by Magda Havas of Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. She writes in the study (abstact here, PDF here):
Transient electromagnetic fields (dirty electricity), in the kilohertz range on electrical wiring, may be contributing to elevated blood sugar levels among diabetics and pre- diabetics. By closely following plasma glucose levels in four Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics, we find that they responded directly to the amount of dirty electricity in their environment. In an electromagnetically clean environment, Type 1 diabetics require less insulin and Type 2 diabetics have lower levels of plasma glucose. Dirty electricity, generated by electronic equipment and wireless devices, is ubiquitous in the environment.
Dr. Havas is well known for her views on EMF, or as she calls it "dirty electricity." Science-based Medicine writes:
She has dedicated her efforts to studying and warning the public about the health risks of electromagnetic radiation for years. She has become the go-to expert for the media, and her name crops up in almost every article on the subject. This is unfortunate, because she appears to be a lone dissenting voice (some might call her a lone crank), who is often put up against the consensus of scientific opinion as if they were two equal experts.
In her study, Dr. Havas writes:
This article presents a paradigm shift in the way we think about diabetes. In addition to Type 1 diabetics, who produce insufficient insulin, and Type 2 diabetics, who are unable to effectively use the insulin they produce, a third type of diabetes may be environmentally exacerbated or induced by exposure to electromagnetic frequencies.
Our increasing reliance on electronic devices and wireless technology is con- tributing to an unprecedented increase in our exposure to a broad range of electromagnetic frequencies, in urban and rural environments and in both developed and developing countries. This energy is generated within the home by computers, plasma televisions, energy efficient lighting and appliances, dimmer switches, cordless phones, and wireless routers, and it can enter the home and work environment from nearby cell phone and broadcast antennas as well as through ground current.
If you believe Dr. Havas, that dirty electricity exacerbates diabetes, you have to do a lot more than pull your compact fluorescents; you have to get rid of you computer, phones and wifi as well. And you have to be convinced that there is some new environmental diabetes that is being called type three. Some are not convinced about the science here; Science Based Medicine writes:
Havas is now talking to the media about "type 3 diabetes" as if it is a proven and accepted entity. She claims that exposure to electromagnetic radiation (including CFLs) can increase blood sugar. Her evidence is one published study, which is nothing more than a case series of four patients. Exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMF) was often estimated (for example, assumed from working in front of a computer or using a treadmill) and not measured. There was no blinding at all to the exposure to EMF and measurement of blood sugars.
Case reports and case series are generally considered to be the weakest form of scientific medical evidence. They are one notch above anecdotes. They are used to propose new ideas for further study, but not to form conclusions. In my opinion it is irresponsible to talk to the media about the results of such research as if they demonstrate a new phenomenon. It is premature and misleading.
Thanks to the CBC, people are fixated on the compact fluorescents. However the study that started this meme was not about compact fluorescent bulbs, but about "dirty electricity" in general, which Dr. Havas has been writing about for years and is disputed by many. Taking out compact fluorescents will not make a significant difference in the size of the electrosmog cloud around you. But taking out CFLs will increase pollution, mercury in the environment from burning coal, and cost you money.
More on electrosmog:
Parents And Teachers Demanding That Schools Dump WiFi
Spray-on Defense from WiFi and Cellphones
New Study Proves EMF Affects Living Things, Discovers Electro-bonsai Effect
Are Your Mattress And Bedframe Killing You With EMF?
A Univerisity without WifI