Power Lines and Cell Towers May Cause Pain for Amputees

For decades, a small but vocal subset of people have attributed their pain, dizziness, and fatigue to power lines, cell towers, and cordless phones. Some of these people resort to extreme measures to isolate themselves from electromagnetic fields (EMF), relocating to remote areas or even caves in an attempt to protect themselves. It’s reasonable to think that EMF might have some effect on our bodies; after all, electricity is one of the things that keeps our bodies running. But with no hard evidence to back them up, these complaints have generally been written off as psychosomatic. Now, scientists say they’ve found evidence that EMF can indeed cause pain in some people. The findings were published last month in the journal PLOS One.

Retired Major David Underwood lost his left arm in the Iraq War. Underwood and a number of other amputees have no doubt that EMF trigger their nerve pain. “When roaming on a cellphone in the car kicked in, the pain almost felt like having my arm blown off again," he said in a press release. “I didn’t notice the power lines, cell phones on roam or other electromagnetic fields until I first felt them in my arm.”

Underwood mentioned this phenomenon in a conversation with Mario Romero-Ortega, a bioengineer at the University of Texas, Dallas. The scientist was intrigued. He decided to find out if the EMF really could be to blame for Underwood’s excruciating nerve pain. He was especially interested in the role of the neuroma, a type of painful nerve growth common after amputation.

Romero-Ortega and his colleagues began their research with two groups of lab rats. The rats in the control group were otherwise healthy, while rats in the second group had sustained nerve injuries similar to those in amputated limbs.

Once a week for eight weeks, the researchers exposed all the rodents to a rat-sized dose of the EMF, similar to the amount of exposure you’d get just by living your life in a populated area. They found that four weeks in the experiment, 88 percent of the “amputee” rats showed a pain response during EMF exposure. Like human amputees, the rats also developed neuromas as their injuries healed.

The researchers then gave half of those rats surgery to remove their neuromas and tested them all again. Even without the neuromas, the injured rats’ pain persisted.

"Many believe that a neuroma has to be present in order to evoke pain. Our model found that electromagnetic fields evoked pain that is perceived before neuroma formation; subjects felt pain almost immediately," Romero-Ortega said in a press release. "My hope is that this study will highlight the importance of developing clinical options to prevent neuromas, instead of the current partially effective surgery alternatives for neuroma resection to treat pain."

The researchers say their study is clear evidence that EMF can cause pain to those with nerve damage. After all, Romero-Ortega noted in the press release, it’s not like the rats could have been faking or imagining it. "In our study, the subjects with nerve injury were not capable of complex psychosomatic behavior. Their pain was a direct response to man-made radio-frequency electromagnetic energy."

And while the study was conducted on rats, the researchers believe their results can “very likely” be generalized for humans.

Romero-Ortega showed retired Major Underwood a tape of the “amputee” rats during EMF exposure. “It was exactly the same type of movements I would have around cell phones on roam, power lines and other electromagnetic fields," said Underwood, who has served on congressional medical committees and been exposed to some of the best doctors in the world. "It is pretty amazing that a few short conversations with this team led to validation of what I, and many others, experience."

Yoga and Meditation May Lead to an Inflated Ego

If you’ve been exasperated for years by that one self-righteous, yoga-obsessed friend, take note: Regular yoga practitioners experience inflated egos after a session of yoga or meditation, according to a forthcoming study in the journal Psychological Science.

Researchers found that yoga and meditation both increase "self-enhancement," or the tendency for people to attach importance to their own actions. In the first phase of the two-part study, researchers in Germany and England measured self-enhancement by recruiting 93 yoga students and having them respond to questionnaires over the course of 15 weeks, Quartz reports. Each assessment was designed to measure three outcomes: superiority, communal narcissism, and self-esteem. In the second phase, the researchers asked 162 meditation students to answer the same questionnaires over four weeks.

Participants showed significantly higher self-enhancement in the hour just after their practices. After yoga or meditation, participants were more likely to say that statements like "I am the most helpful person I know" and "I have a very positive influence on others" describe them.

At its Hindu and Buddhist roots, yoga is focused on quieting the ego and conquering the self. The findings seem to support what some critics of Western-style yoga suspect—that the practice is no longer true to its South Asian heritage.

It might not be all bad, though. Self-enhancement tends to correlate with higher levels of subjective well-being, at least in the short term. People prone to self-enhancement report feeling happier than the average person. However, they’re also more likely to exhibit social behaviors (like bragging or condescending) that are detrimental in the long term.

So if you think your yoga-loving friends are a little holier than thou, you may be right. But it might be because their yoga class isn’t deflating their egos like yogis say it should.

[h/t Quartz]

Doc_Brown, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Cropped.
This Just In
The Honey Smacks In Your Pantry May Be Contaminated With Salmonella
Doc_Brown, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Cropped.
Doc_Brown, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Cropped.

Salmonella, a bacterial food-borne illness often associated with raw eggs and undercooked chicken, has been linked recently to a popular children's cereal. According to Snopes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging consumers to avoid Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, citing the brand as the likely cause of the Salmonella outbreak spreading across the U.S.

Since early March, 73 people in 31 states have contracted the virus. Salmonella clears up in most people on its own, but in some cases it can lead to hospitalization or even death. Twenty-four victims have been admitted to hospitals so far, with no reported deaths. Of the 39 patients who were questioned, 30 of them remembered eating cold cereal and 14 of them specifically cited Honey Smacks.

In response to the outbreak, the Kellogg Company has recalled its 15.3-ounce and 23-ounce boxes of Honey Smacks printed with any "best if used by" date between June 14, 2018 and June 14, 2019 (recalled boxes are labeled on the bottom with the UPC codes 3800039103 or 3800014810). The CDC recommends that you take even greater precautions by throwing out or returning any Honey Smacks you have at home, regardless of package size, "best by" date, or whether your family has eaten from the box previously without getting sick.

Symptoms of Salmonella include diarrhea, fever, headache, and abdominal pain, and usually appear 12 hours to three days after the contaminated food is ingested. If you or someone in your household is showing signs of the infection, ask a doctor about how to best treat it.

[h/t Snopes]


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