Remote Effects of Electromagnetic Millimeter Waves on Experimentally Induced Cold Pain: A Double-Blinded Crossover Investigation in Healthy Volunteers

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The hypoalgesic effect of electromagnetic millimeter waves (MW) is well studied in animal model; however, the results of human research are controversial. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of various frequency ranges of MW on hypoalgesia using the cold pressor test (CPT).

METHODS:

Experimental pain was induced using standardized CPT protocols in 20 healthy male volunteers. The skin of the lower part of sternum was exposed to MW with a frequency of 42.25 GHz (active generator); MW within 50–75 GHz frequency range (noise generator); or an inactive MW device (placebo generator) in a random crossover double-blinded manner. Pain threshold, measured using the CPT, was the primary outcome. Other CPT parameters, heart rate, blood pressure, incidence of subjective sensations (paresthesia) during exposure, as well as quality of volunteers’ blinding were also recorded. The end points of the condition with exposure to 42.25 GHz, were compared with baseline; exposure to noise 50-75 GHz; and placebo generators.

RESULTS:

Pain threshold increased during exposure to the 42.25 GHz generator when compared with baseline: median difference (MD), 1.97 seconds (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.35–3.73) and noise generator: MD, 1.27 seconds (95% CI, 0.05–2.33) but not compared with the placebo generator. Time to onset of cold and increasing pain sensations as well as diastolic blood pressure increased under the exposure to the 42.25 GHz generator when compared with baseline and noise generator. Other outcome measures were comparable among the study conditions.

CONCLUSIONS:

We were able to partially confirm the previously suggested hypoalgesic effects of low-intensity electromagnetic MW. However, the effect was indistinguishable from the placebo condition in our investigation.

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