Doctor Michael Witthvft, of
Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany, and his team in their study analyzed
the effect of media reports, about the health hazards of electromagnetic
radiation, on health of the people who viewed the reports.
Dr. Witthvft explains, "The
mere anticipation of possible injury may actually trigger pain or disorders.
This is commonly known as the nocebo effect.
Wi-fi, which uses radio waves,
has become a very common technology in our day-to-day lives. Though there is no
significant evidence that exposure to Wifi signals or electromagnetic waves of
less intensity causes health hazards, some people have reported symptoms like
headaches, dizziness, burning or tingling sensations on their skin, which they
assume is due to exposure to these waves. This condition is known as
Previous researches have shown
that people who are electromagnetic hypersensitivity are unable to tell whether
they were actually exposed to these radiations. However, brain imaging has
shown that brain regions that process pain were active in people with
The study involved 147
participants who were divided into two groups. One group of participants
watched a BBC One documentary, about the potential health hazards supposedly
associated with cell phone and WiFi signals, while the other group watched a
report on the security of internet and mobile phone data.
Both the groups were then exposed
to fake Wifi signals that they were made to believe were real.
Nearly half the participants
reported experiencing agitation and anxiety, loss of concentration or tingling
in their fingers, arms, legs, and feet even though they were not exposed to any
real signals. It was also noted that the symptoms were more significant in
people who had previously watched the documentary on the health hazards of the
signals and were anxious.
According to the authors, the findings demonstrate the impact of sensationalized media reports,
many of which lack enough scientific evidence, on the health of some viewers
Dr. Witthöft has highlighted the need for media and science to
work together and present the accurate information with scientific data on
health hazards of latest technologies to avoid impacts on the society.