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Electric Shavers Rot Your Brain

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the luddites-right-as-usual dept.

Science 709

Damek writes "According to UW researchers, prolonged exposure to low-level magnetic fields, similar to those emitted by such common household devices as blow dryers, electric blankets and razors, can damage brain cell DNA. The damage appears to be cumulative, so you'd best get rid of your electric razors & blankets ASAP! The full study is available online now. No word yet for Cell Phone users' brains..."

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709 comments

Umm... (4, Interesting)

inertia@yahoo.com (156602) | more than 10 years ago | (#8343974)

Wouldn't this only be a problem if you use these devices every day directly in contact with your skull? I mean, is the range really that far reaching? If the range really is that far reaching, what about power tools and such? Of course, I can think of a few people [McBride] I'd like to have power tools come in direct contact with their skull, but that's beside the point.

Re:Umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344015)

I dont know, but I dont use electical devices near my skull, either.

I kinda wanted an electric razor, too.

Re:Umm... (5, Funny)

El (94934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344042)

Excuse me, but yes, I do shave my whole head everday with an electric razor... and I haven't noticed any... uh, what were we talking about?

Amazing-This Explains The Stupidity: +1, Patriotic (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344063)

of our fear mongering Puppet-On-A-String [whitehouse.org]

Regards,
Kilgore Trout

Re:Umm... (4, Informative)

BWJones (18351) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344114)

Wouldn't this only be a problem if you use these devices every day directly in contact with your skull?

Well, you might be surprised as how easily magnetic waves can propagate through materials. How do you think 802.11 works through walls? Or cell phones? etc.... I guess you could think of it as being constantly bathed in electromagnetic radiation of all types and wavelengths.

Re:Umm... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344142)

No, it's the field strength present in your brain cells. I'm quite sure it is possible to generate field strengths the order of magnitude the study used in your brain from a distance.

Re:Umm... (4, Informative)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344179)

"Wouldn't this only be a problem if you use these devices every day directly in contact with your skull? I mean, is the range really that far reaching?"

Actually, the magnitude of a magnetic field drops away as the square of the distance from the source. So the answer to your question is, it depends on how strong the field is.

Re:Umm... (5, Insightful)

tessaiga (697968) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344202)

Wouldn't this only be a problem if you use these devices every day directly in contact with your skull?
Both my blow drier and my razor actually come pretty close to my skull when I use them :)

I agree that the news release seems pretty sensationalized, though. If you read carefully, you'll note that in the study they subjected the rats to a 60Hz field for 24 hours continuously, not a few minutes at a time:

In the study, the researchers discovered that rats exposed to a 60-hertz field for 24 hours showed significant DNA damage, and rats exposed for 48 hours showed even more breaks in brain cell DNA strands.
I don't consider this enough evidence to support their conclusion that the damage is cumulative, since to prove that they'd need to expose the rates to 24 hours of radiation a few minutes at a time, with long breaks in between, in a manner that would more closely mimic the use of the electronic devices they refer to.

A loose analogy would be that I can hold my breath for ten seconds 30 times over the course of a day without any danger, but if I tried to do it all at once the results would probably be pretty harmful.

Re:Umm... (4, Interesting)

jejones (115979) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344223)

Wouldn't this only be a problem if you use these devices every day directly in contact with your skull?

Hmmm...I use headphones, don't you?

No sweat. (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 10 years ago | (#8343977)


Personally I'm not concerned, my tinfoil hat doubles as a Faraday cage.

Re:No sweat. (5, Funny)

Libertarian_Geek (691416) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344016)

Or parabolic antenna, when you shave your chin!
Joke disclaimer: The above is a joke
or is it?
oh wait, yes it is?

Re:No sweat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344222)

You're stupid

Minor nit to pick... (5, Interesting)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 10 years ago | (#8343979)

Exposure also resulted in a marked increase in brain cell apoptosis, or "cell suicide," a process in which a cell self-destructs because it can't repair itself.

I'd say that apoptosis is better characterized as "natural cell death". It's a natural and essential part of the cell's life cycle, and certainly isn't as alarming as the article's tone suggests.

In fact, we have a word for cells that don't undergo apoptosis: Cancer.

Re:Minor nit to pick... (1)

jaxdahl (227487) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344053)

If anything, I think this indicates the remarkable ability of organisms to repair their systems by purging bad cells and fixing DNA that is 1/2 broken. It shouldn't be a problem if you at least limit your exposure -- don't be shaving for an hour every morning, etc.

Re:Minor nit to pick... (5, Insightful)

krilli (303497) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344155)

I think the key words are "a marked increase".

Apoptosis is a system that terminates cells that are in risk of becoming cancer cells. A marked increase of cells that are activating this system does not bode good, IMO.

Neurons (4, Informative)

The Tyro (247333) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344227)

are not that mitotically active in the adult brain anyway. The Glial cells continue to divide, etc... but the neurons themselves are largely established by childhood, and their numbers steadily go downhill over the course of your life.

That's not to say that neurons don't develop new connections and synapses... they do (otherwise learning could not take place)... they just don't divide much. The implication here is that since they don't divide, they are unlikely to become neoplastic, or pass on their damaged DNA.

Apart from the apoptosis angle, I'm not sure how much clinical relevance this research actually has.

Radiation from Monitors (5, Interesting)

jnguy (683993) | more than 10 years ago | (#8343981)

How does staring at a monitor for 10-14 hours a day affect your brain? Not good is my guess.

Re:Radiation from Monitors (4, Funny)

Andorion (526481) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344046)

So my dual monitor setup is double-notgood for me? =(

~Berj

Re:Radiation from Monitors (5, Funny)

pyros (61399) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344127)

So my dual monitor setup is double-notgood for me? =(

No, it's double-plus ungood.

Re:Radiation from Monitors (4, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344108)

And it'll make hair grow on your palms.

Oh, did you mean at work?

How to live a normal life (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344109)

You're otherwise right, but it's not the radiation.

Watching a monitor has the same effect on your psyche as listening to noise 10-14 hours a day.

No wonder so many nerds/geeks are just fucked up mentally. Fortunately I began rationing my exposure to monitors seven years ago and, unlike my fellow nerds, I have actually been able to enjoy normal human relationships. I am happily married and I have kids.

Re:Radiation from Monitors (1)

2000 Britneys (549923) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344194)

Well the monitor is basically a "ray gun' that emits the electrons (some1 correct me here since I haven't looked at my physics books in over a decade) right at you. There has got to be some damage that the body suffers from the prolonged exposure to monitors being either your TV or computer screen or .....

As for the electric shavers / blow dryers etc. what about the regular phones, clock radios, calculators, heating elements,....(fill in your favourite electric tool/gizmo here)?

Re:Radiation from Monitors (3, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344243)

This article is about magnetic fields. Your CRT shoots electrons at a screen which then emits light. While moving electrons do produce a magnetic field, it is a very weak one: can you stick a metal screw to the side of your monitor and have it stick? But you could stick it to the magnet in the electric motor of your razor.

Screwed (4, Funny)

BWJones (18351) | more than 10 years ago | (#8343985)

Hmmmm. Let's see: Electric shaver in the morning, RF access through security to my labs, Bluetooth synching, 802.11b & g for my internet access and music streaming, television, radio, microwave oven, cell phone..........Oh man, I'm screwed. :-)

But at least I got rid of most of the CRTs in my life.

mercatur fp again (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8343986)

fp for mercatur
www.mercatur.net

sexiest babe ever

sweet. (5, Funny)

fjordboy (169716) | more than 10 years ago | (#8343988)

So not only am I more manly for using a straight razor...I'm also less likely to have brain rot!

Now if I could just find some more tissues before pass out from bloodloss....

Re:sweet. (4, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344024)


Most /.ers don't have to worry:

A : They're not old enough to shave.
B : All the electrical plugs in their parents' basement are populated by computer gear.

Re:sweet. (1)

florin (2243) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344044)

Plus a blade actually gets you a smooth shave.. unlike any electric razor. Ok, those models using the Braun system are sort of okay. The Philips rotating head ('Philishave') on the other hand is quite a disaster. Never understood how someone could call that a proper shave.

Re:sweet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344074)

there should probably be an "I" in that last sentence somewhere...whoops.

Re:sweet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344082)

How manly? Do you use a shaving brush? If so, just give the secret manly-man-who-uses-a-shaving-brush handshake.

pff, fp (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8343990)

"No word yet for Cell Phone users' brains..."
I'm sure someone will prove its existence, eventually.

Re:pff, fp (3, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344095)

"No word yet for Cell Phone users' brains..."

I'm sure someone will prove its existence, eventually.

If my anecdotal experiences gathered at the mall are any indication, good luck.

KFG

POST LESS GHEY (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8343994)

Lunix is ok, I use it on meh MP# server. PLZ post more srat wars stories kthx? politiks and eurpoe and space is ghey

damn it, now this? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8343995)

i'm still getting over my blindness from masturbation!

:P

This is ridiculous! (-1, Troll)

SwansonMarpalum (521840) | more than 10 years ago | (#8343998)

How could anyone buy this rubbish, it's simply beyond my comprehension!

Re:This is ridiculous! (1, Interesting)

savagedome (742194) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344048)

Well, looks like you've been using electric razors & electric blankets far too long :)

Re:This is ridiculous! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344087)

How could anyone buy this rubbish, it's simply beyond my comprehension!

This thoughtful message brought to you courtesy of a long time Philishave user.

Doh ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344001)

So thats how homer got the way he is

Maybe the Supreme Court will set things straight (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344023)

The US Supreme Court has agreed to decide if the president can order the indefinite detention of US citizens in the administration's war on terror.

Lawyers for Jose Padilla - who has been held without charge for nearly two years - say he has been denied his right to a fair trial.

Mr Padilla was arrested in Chicago in May 2002 on suspicion of planning to set off a "dirty bomb".

--

Fortunately this will take place before the elections.

Ok... what about cellphones/wireless/microwaves? (1)

rsborg (111459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344029)

It seems as if the new results fly in the face of the ever heard chant from the mobile industry: "No results from any study proves danger".

STFU Luddite (2, Informative)

EmCeeHawking (720424) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344221)

RTFA. This study relates to 60Hz magnetic fields.

60Hz: Cell phones operate in the several GHz band. Wireless networks do too. Microwave ovens are at an even higher frequency( and besides, are always surrounded by an effective faraday cage ).

Magnetic fields: radio waves( cell, wireless )and microwaves are electromagnetic radiation, which are decidedly different from magnatic fields.

This study has ZERO bearing on the effects of high-frequency non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, so next time read the article before posting your ill-informed luddite drivel.

Headphones (4, Interesting)

Genjurosan (601032) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344035)

What about headphones? If something powered only by a couple of AA batteries causes damage, how about my headphones with two silver dollar sized speakers in them?

uggg...

Re:Headphones (4, Informative)

jaxdahl (227487) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344098)

The electric fields induced by headphones would be different by the 60-Hz waves they studied in this study, so the results of this stucy are not necessarily transferrable to your example. A separate study would have to be done to consider this, but I suspect the worst damage would be to your eardrums if you had excessive volume from the headphones.

Re:Headphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344197)

Er, I mean magnetic fields.

Of course... (3, Insightful)

el-spectre (668104) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344036)

Sitting in front of an electron gun in a building full of wires... we're never exposed to magnetic fields...

Re:Of course... (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344152)

I would worry about the computer on the floor, think about where that radiation is going.

Seriously, I think the average amount of polution in my environment is doing far more damage to me overall. Well, that, and Starbucks.

Re:Of course... (1)

el-spectre (668104) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344172)

Bah. Real men keep their rigs on their desk (mainframes, servers and back up machines are exempted)

Explains a lot (5, Funny)

jbrader (697703) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344038)

I used to work for a guy who buzzed the stubble off his face like twice a day. He was a real hustler and he thought he got more sales if he was all bay smooth I guess. But he was dumber than a bag of hammers. I guess now i know why.

Hair Dryers (1, Funny)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344045)

"emitted by such common household devices as blow dryers, electric blankets and razors, can damage brain cell DNA"

Blond joke here someplace.

What about speakers? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344054)

They're low-level magnetic fields. Headphones, speakers, etc etc.

Doubt this is a big problem... (3, Insightful)

Jim Starx (752545) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344055)

Electric shavers have been around long enough that if they caused and serios damage (besides pulling the hair out of my face instead of cutting it) we would have heard about it by now.

Re:Doubt this is a big problem... (4, Funny)

Tebriel (192168) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344084)

Judging by most posts on Slashdot, I'd say the damage has already been done!

Objection! Assuming facts not in evidence! (4, Funny)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344166)

You are making the assumption that people on /. shave, use hair dryers, or any type of personal grooming.

Dirty GNU/Hippies (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344060)

no blow dryers and razors?

Now I understand why Richard Stallman is so smart.

DANG! that explains a lot! (0)

prmths (325452) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344071)

does anyone else think of those socker moms in minivans blowdrying their hair while putting on lipstick?

How did they prove it was cumulative? (4, Insightful)

signe (64498) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344085)

OK, there's a previous study that used a really strong field for 2 hours, and it caused damage. Now they used a low-level field for 24 (and 48 hours) and it caused damage. How exactly does that get extrapolated to a low-level field for 3 minutes a day over a long period of time causing damage?

-Todd

Re:How did they prove it was cumulative? (1)

jaxdahl (227487) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344156)

The article isn't really clear whether the 24 & 48 hours of exposure were all at once, or a few minutes each day, so I'm not really sure either.

Ozzy Osbourne says (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344096)

ALL ABOARD The DISCO TRAIN HaHaHa

Google HTML link (0, Redundant)

Bobdoer (727516) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344105)

http://216.239.53.104/search?q=cache:my4Dripx_igJ: ehp.niehs.nih.gov/docs/2004/6355/abstract.pdf+&hl= en&ie=UTF-8

Good Science?? (1)

Philosinfinity (726949) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344106)

After reading the abstract and a small portion of this article which seems difficult for me (a nonbiologist) to parse, I am left with a major concern. Is this good science? What I mean by this is that we have to be careful about how we determine causality. Is this a good random sample? What are the determining factors that make this causal link? I'm sure the research methods state this, but if anyone has a layman's assessment of this study.

AH HAH (1)

dkode (517172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344125)

I KNEW IT

I knew I had been getting progressively dumber, although I was trying to forget certain things anyways, like my exwife.

I often wondered about damage from electronic devices, although like a previous poster said, would the electric waves really be able to travel through the skull?

This reminds me of Johnny Nemonic, where they had a whole disease (Beleive it was called NRS) that would effect peoples nervous systems. I really wouldnt be that suprised if we saw something like that in the future.

CRT? (1)

sleepingsquirrel (587025) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344126)

Hair-dryers? How many minutes a day are you exposed to a hair-dryer? I think the slashdot crowd needs more information on what levels of magnetic fields are given off by their 21" CRT.

Not again (1)

n9uxu8 (729360) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344128)

...and I remember the NEJM article back in what...'92 that definitively proved that electric razors cause leukemia...now this...better dump that Norelco stock...

My poor ex-girlfriend :( (1, Troll)

michael path (94586) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344135)

"People should do what they can to limit their exposure to as little as possible, especially in relation to electrical appliances that are used very close to the body."

No, not even this is going to get women to give up their vibrators.

Scale (1)

Yoda2 (522522) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344139)

Doesn't scale tend to factor in to the things that destroy your DNA, give you cancer, etc?

The typical hand held razor is bigger than a rat so unless you are using a 6' Braun or an attic-fan sized blowdryer, I speculate that you just might survive unscathed.

What about sitting beside 13 servers all day (1)

8400_RPM (716968) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344148)

People are worried about using a blow dryer for 10 minutes a day. HA! Being a network administrator I sit 10 feet from 13 servers for 9-10 hours a day. I just lost my train of thought...

Gender? (1, Insightful)

elbarrio (592330) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344154)

"so you'd best get rid of your electric razors & blankets ASAP!"

I love the implicit commentary here that Slashdot readers are men and therefore do not own blow dryers.

ugh. (5, Insightful)

Niet3sche (534663) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344159)

Someone's gotta put this into perspective:

These are rats exposed to 60Hz AC EMF at 0.1 to 0.5mT for two hours (continuous). Also studied were rats exposed to 60Hz AC EMF at 0.1mT for 24 hours (continuous).

So I suppose, as an analog ....

Go lie down in an MRI for a couple days straight. If you don't go deaf from the noise (they're loud), then you might see similar results. Oh, and don't wear deodorant ... it contains aluminium which will cause it to be dragged through your arm... ouch.

Not that I'm saying there may well be something in this ... but how many of us even use the shaver/hairdryer for 2 continuous hours in a sitting? It may well be (and is likely) that the effects are not cumulative, but are actually acute trauma scenarios. For instance, you can assert that dropping a grain of dust on your foot 5 times a day for 10 years would make for the same mass as, say, dropping a car on said foot. However, the problem then comes in saying, "therefore, the two are analogous - we will see the same damage from the dust as we would with the car".

It just does not follow.

Protection and remedies - (2, Interesting)

NixLuver (693391) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344163)

Hey, let's not get too excited. The article clearly details some protections. Vitamin E and melatonin, the article claims, protect against such DNA chain breakage.

Also, let us note that when the article discusses 'apoptosis' (which, indeed, may be called natural cell death - where a cell simply stops living and breaks down its DNA in response to some trigger), it points out that the incidence of apoptosis and necrosis were increased by a statistically significant amount by the presence of magnetic fields.

All in all, kiddies, take yer vitamin E and melatonin regularly if you use a cell phone or blow drier. You should be all right then.. :)

Beard Trimmers? (1)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344174)

I manually shave a bit (neck and cheeks), but I do have an electric beard trimmer. Man, if I didn't keep my beard nice and trimmed down, what a brain I could have! I'd be like RMS or Maddog!

...

...okay, I think I'll keep my beard trim, my brain a bit atrophied and keep my SO.

--
Evan

This explains it (2, Funny)

rixstep (611236) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344177)

I use a dual G5 shaver every morning, and the g/f always points out how I missed something here, something there, and it gets consecutively worse - I keep missing more and more.

And here I thought it was just because I was hungover.

Ever growing list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344183)

First Beer
Then Drugs
Now this

Headline: -1 Redundant, Chicken Little, etc (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344192)

We've senn this over and over and it get refuted over and over. WE're used to living in magnetic fields, we evolved inside of ahuge magentic field that is prone to very large fluxes. Ever heard of a Class 5 Geomagnetic Storm? When you can see the Aurora Borealis at my latitude? (42 Degrees, [52 Magnetic]).

I was still in elementry school when I first heard about this kind of worry warting and even then I was sufficiently skilled in the scientific method to look at the data, and find some show stopping flaw with the expiriment.

[I'm probably going to get modded troll for this part].
The whole "magnetic fields harm you" concept is bad science, just like global warming is very wobbly science. These two issues are getting to about the level of "Creation Science" in my book when it comes to credibility.

Blood loss a quicker killer.......... (1)

reality-bytes (119275) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344196)

So every time I rip my face apart with my patented 24 blade manual razor and loose pint after pint of blood, I'm killing less brain-cells right?

Oh bugger, I just drooled into the keyboard again.....

in related news... (1)

yum_icecream (44049) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344198)

In related news, TV images of Ryan Seacrest have been found to emit low levels of magnetic fields to viewer's brains.

Preventive Measures (1)

superflippy (442879) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344204)

According to the abstract [nih.gov], rats that were fed melatonin or Vitamin E weren't affected. So all you have to do is remember to take your vitamins in the morning before you shave or blow dry your hair. (Do not take melatonin in the morning - it's often used as a sleep aid.)

No evidence with cell phones (0)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344206)

Of course the cell phone companies claim it is perfectly safe to use a cell phone. That there is no evidence that cell phone use is harmful.


Just don't pay attention to the fact that the same people who say that always use headsets/earpieces with their cell phones.

Dang (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344207)

I knew I shouldn't get ready in the morning under my blanket.

CRTs? (1)

sroddy (216493) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344214)

I wonder if that includes sitting in front of a CRT for 12 hours a day? I know I end up in front of one a good bit. Nice big 21" monsters that weigh a ton.

Headphones? (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344219)

You shave for maybe 5 minutes very second day, or perhaps even less often. With prsonal music you have speakers next to, or even inside, your ears for hours on end. Class, what is more likely to cause problems?

Me lose brain, uh-oh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8344226)

Why I laugh?

No danger in old Europe :-) (4, Funny)

f97magu (312756) | more than 10 years ago | (#8344238)

In the study, the researchers discovered that rats exposed to a 60-hertz field for 24 hours showed significant DNA damage
In Europe we have 50 Hz fields. *sighs in relief*
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