More and more people are claiming to have electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or electromagnetic hypersensitivity. It is very difficult to determine their exact number. If you look at prevalence studies from around the world, the numbers range from 0.7 to 15 percent. Most often it concerns women around the age of fifty. Self-described patients with electromagnetic hypersensitivity attribute their various symptoms to electromagnetic fields in their daily environment, in the absence of a condition that could explain them.
For more than twenty years, researchers have been conducting double-blind studies to determine whether these claims hold up. So far, these studies always lead to the same conclusion: People who say they have electromagnetic hypersensitivity are no better at distinguishing between real and imaginary exposures than control people. There is no demonstrable association between exposure to electromagnetic fields and reported symptoms.
And most importantly, complaints of people who have declared themselves suffering from electromagnetic hypersensitivity often appear when they are convinced of the presence of radiation, although there is no radiation. Researchers such as Omar van den Bergh, professor emeritus of health psychology at KU Leuven, suspect that the nocebo effect exists. This means that the symptoms are just the result of a belief that something is serious. “In combination with the body’s stress reactions, strong expectations can form the basis of a vicious cycle, where the sufferer with EHS believes that environmental triggers are actually causing the complaints,” he says.
Other researchers suggest that studies to date have failed to find associations due to methodological limitations. In an effort to circumvent this, Marise Ledent, who researches the potential health effects of electric and magnetic fields at Sciensano, began developing an innovative research design in 2018.
Research you can read more about in what’s new Eos, It was innovative in many ways. Exposures took place in a test chamber that had been adapted to minimize external magnetic fields from slipping inward. Before the start of the double-blind study, the volunteers were shown a habituation session when they were exposed and when they were not, which reduced their stress before the study. Ledent and her team worked with real sources of electromagnetic fields. To simulate reality as closely as possible, they activated all sources simultaneously. They adjusted the duration of exposure and rest periods between the subjects’ symptoms.
The team tested four groups Of the volunteers: nineteen were convinced that they had electromagnetic hypersensitivity, eight had doubts about the origin of their complaints, twenty had non-specific symptoms that they did not attribute to electromagnetic fields, and 35 were without complaints. But this study also failed to find a demonstrable link between radiation exposure and symptoms.
However, the researchers don’t want to stop there. They maintain that, regardless of the origin of the symptoms, the suffering of those affected is important enough to ensure that everything in their power is done to help them. “These people are out there, and they have symptoms that significantly affect their quality of life and we can’t help them much right now,” says Ledent. ‘We want to change that.’
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