This is a review of the research on the genetic effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic field (EMF), mainly on radiofrequency radiation (RFR) and static and extremely low frequency EMF (ELF-EMF). The majority of the studies are on genotoxicity (e.g., DNA damage, chromatin conformation changes, etc.) and gene expression. Genetic effects of EMF depend on various factors, including field parameters and characteristics (frequency, intensity, wave-shape), cell type, and exposure duration. The types of gene expression affected (e.g., genes involved in cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and stress responses, heat-shock proteins) are consistent with the findings that EMF causes genetic damages. Many studies reported effects in cells and animals after exposure to EMF at intensities similar to those in the public and occupational environments. The mechanisms by which effects are induced by EMF are basically unknown. Involvement of free radicals is a likely possibility. EMF also interacts synergistically with different entities on genetic functions. Interactions, particularly with chemotherapeutic compounds, raise the possibility of using EMF as an adjuvant for cancer treatment to increase the efficacy and decrease side effects of traditional chemotherapeutic drugs. Other data, such as adaptive effects and mitotic spindle aberrations after EMF exposure, further support the notion that EMF causes genetic effects in living organisms.
Keywords: Radiofrequency radiation; gene expression; genetic effects; genotoxicity; static/extremely low frequency EMF.