The Belgian BioElectroMagnetics group (BBEMG) is a consortium of research groups from different Belgian universities or research institutes which conduct research on magnetic fields, as from power lines. Our contribution to this project involves research on the possible link between magnetic field exposures and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This is mainly done through studies of effects in human cells that are exposed to magnetic fields and comparing them with effects that are also seen in cells from Alzheimer patients.
We also ensure coordination between the different BBEMG participants and represent the BBEMG at international conferences. We are both coordinator and president of the BBEMG.
Our investigations on the possible association between exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease focussed on in vitro (cyto)genetic investigations in human cell lines. We have finalised our in vitro investigations using the cytome assay and found some evidence for genetic damage at ≥ 50 µT exposure levels. This may indicate some effects that corresponds with effects seen in AD patients. However, the results are so far no proof of an existing link between magnetic field exposures and an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease and at present we are refining the investigation by further in depth studies.
We also found that cells that were exposed to low level magnetic fields (<10 µT) have less than background frequencies of genetic damage. This can be ascribed to an adaptive response or warning mechanism aimed at protecting the cells against possibly higher exposures.
Further research on some of the above mentioned aspects (adaptive response, FISH staining to analyse induced micronucleus frequencies at >50 µT exposures) are foreseen.
We also contributed to some other research work (e.g., on the ‘cryptochrome hypothesis’), wrote and published a literature review on “Genetic damage in humans exposed to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields”, participated in a number of national or international expert working groups on ‘non ionizing radiations’ and attended a number of meetings.