SCIENCE: Increasing incidence of burnout due to magnetic and electromagnetic fields of cell phone networks and other wireless communication technologies

[Editorial Note: This paper had the letters “ti” deleted throughout. Although I have tried to replace “ti” wherever it was needed, you may find some puzzling words such as: acvon = activation, dysfuncon = dysfunction, magnec = magnetic, radiaon = radiation, im = time, and so on. Apologies.]


Ulrich Warnke and Peter Hensinger
Burnout syndrome (BOS) is a psychosomatic stress disorder. Exogenous stress leads to oxidative cellular stress, the formation of excessive reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, and reaction products (ROS/RNS). This then leads to mitochondrial metabolic dysfunction,
which results in a lack of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and subsequently in a diminished performance of cells. Lack of ATP is a crucial factor in BOS, as well as in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). A crucial element in the multisystem disease BOS is inflammation as a consequence of
nitrosative and oxidative stress, as well as the acquired mitochondriopathy. Weak ambient magnetic fields (e.g. from transformers in devices) and various radio-frequency resonances increase the level of free radicals and their reaction products that have toxic effects.

The nonionizing radiation of cell phone networks and other wireless communication technologies (cell towers, cell phones, Wi-Fi, etc.) also leads to cell stress. There is a correlation between the stress trigger due to living conditions, magnetic fields, and RF radiation of cell phone networks and other wireless communication technologies. The affected person will suffer from functional impairment and diseases; and if these are hereditary, they will be passed on to the next generation as a pre-existing defect, as is the case with e.g. “acquired energy dyssymbiosis syndrome” (AEDS).
Keywords: burnout, electromagnetic fields, mobile telephony, RF radiation, stress, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), chronic inflammation, chronic multisystem illness (CMI), acquired energy dyssymbiosis syndrome (AEDS) Translation: By Katharina Gustavs and authorized by the author and publisher.
Original publicaon: WARNKE U; HENSINGER P (2013): Steigende „Burn-out“-Inzidenz durch technisch erzeugte magnesche
und elektromagnesche Felder des Mobil- und Kommunikaonsfunks; umwelt-medizin-gesellscha6, 26(1): 31-38.
———————— Increase in chronic multisystem diseases
In medical history, the definition of general fatigue, depressiveness, and avolion as a pathological condition is discussed against the backdrop of societal developments; in the past, they were referred to as melancholia, vapors, neurasthenia, and depression (EHRENBURG 2009) and today as
burnout syndrome. Stress always plays a central role in these

Benkert offers a mely definition: “The burnout syndrome is a specific result of continuous stress.” (BENKERT 2009) Burnout belongs to the chronic disorders (GEUENICH & HAGEMANN 2012) with increasing prevalence within the group of the so-called chronic mutilsystem illnesses (CMI) (see Fig. 1). Conditions with diffuse symptomatology include:
• MCS (mulple chemical sensivity),
• CFS (chronic fague syndrome),
• BOS (burnout syndrome),
• PTSD (post-traumac stress disorder),
• Fibromyalgia syndrome.
umwelt·medizin·gesellschaft | 26 | 1/2013
The prevalence of chronic mulsystem illnesses is estimated to comprise at least 25% of the population in western industrial countries – with an increasing trend. For CFS alone, a prevalence of 522 cases per 100,000 in females and 291 per 100,000 in males is given for the U.S. (AACFS 2003).

According to a study of the University of Chicago, the prevalence of
CFS thus easily exceeds those of HIV infections (125/100,000), lung cancer (43/100,000), or breast cancer (26/100.000)(JASON et al. 1999).
The pathogenesis of CMI syndromes and all other CMI associated illnesses involves free radicals and inflammatory events of the immune system.
——– Special focus: oxidative stress
The crucial role of oxidave stress is generally known and
scienfically acknowledged:
“Cell processes require redox homeostasis, which must be maintained by a multitude of an increasing incidence of burnout due to magnetic and electromagnetic fields of cell phone networks and other wireless communication technologies oxidant enzymes… When the organism’s homeostatic increasing incidence of burnout due to magnetic and electromagnetic fields of cell phone networks and other wireless communication technologies balance is tipped in favor of oxidative processes, we speak of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is associated, among others, with the aging of cells.
Furthermore, a severe accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) with a simultaneous decrease in the level of the body’s own anoxidant glutathione is considered a known cause of acute and chronic degenerative diseases such as stroke, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and
Parkinson’s disease” (HELMHOLTZ ZENTRUM 2008). The Robert Koch Instute confirmed these relaonships (RKI 2008).
In persons with burnout syndrome, changes can be observed
in the following cell funcons, among others (BAUR 2012,
BIEGER 2012, MÜLLER 2012, VON BAEHR 2012):
• Oxidative cell stress (ROS), chronic inflammation, and
nitric oxide formation result in an increased formation
of peroxynitrite;
• Lower levels of the body’s own anoxidants, especially superoxide dismutase (SOD2);
• Decrease in ATP production and diminished energy
supply through mitochondria;
• Disrupon of the neuroendocrine stress axis, slowing
down of the catabolism of catecholamines, and modulang effects on the neuroendocrine immune system.
Beside mental stress, environmental stressors, including EMF
(electromagnec fields, see Fig. 2), are discussed as triggers.
Both mental stress as well as environmental stressors lead to
cell stress (= oxidave stress); the interacons provide a
model to explain the increasing incidence of burnout.
Steigende „Burn-out“-Inzidenz durch technisch erzeugte
magnesche und elektromagnesche Felder des Mobil-
und Kommunikaonsfunks
Das Burn-Out-Syndrom (BOS) ist eine psychosomasche
Stresserkrankung. Exogener Stress führt zu Oxidavem Zellstress, einer übermäßigen Entstehung von Freien Sauerstoff
-Radikalen, Sckstoff-Radikalen und Folgeprodukten (ROS /
RNS). Dadurch entstehen mitochondriale Stoffwechselstörungen, die zu einem Mangel an ATP (Adenosintriphosphat) und in der Folge zur verminderten Leistungsfä-
higkeit der Zellen führen. ATP-Mangel ist ein wesentlicher
Faktor beim BOS als auch beim Chronic Fague Syndrom
(CFS). Ein zentrales Element der Mulsystemerkrankung
BOS sind die Entzündung (Inflammaon) als Folge von nitrosavem und oxidavem Stress so wie die erworbene Mitochondropathie.
Aus der Umgebung stammende schwache MagneRelder
(z.B. Gerätetransformatoren) und diverse Hochfrequenzschwingungen erhöhen die Ausbeute von Freien Radikalen
und toxisch wirkenden Folgeprodukten. Die nichonisierende Strahlung der Mobil- und Kommunikaonsfunktechnologie (Mobilfunkmasten, Handys, WLAN u.a.) führt ebenso zu
Zellstress. Es besteht eine Wechselwirkung zwischen der
Stressauslösung durch Lebensumstände, MagneRelder und
Mobil- und Kommunikaonsfunkstrahlung. Der Mensch
leidet an Funkonsstörungen und Krankheiten und – soweit
sie vererbbar sind – gibt er sie als Vorschädigungen an die
nächsten Generaonen weiter, wie z.B. beim ,Aquired Energy Dyssymbiosis Syndrom’ (AEDS).
Schlüsselwörter: Burn-out, Elektromagnesche Felder, Mobilfunk, Stress, Chronic Fague Syndrome (CFS), chronische
Entzündung, chronische Mulsystemerkrankung (CMI),
Acquired Energy Dyssymbiosis Syndrom (AEDS)
Fig.1: Burnout: the number of diagnoses rises rapidly
(WIDO 2012, AOK = General German health insurance)
umwelt·medizin·gesellschaft | 26 | 1/2013
———— Parallels between biological stress symptoms and adverse
biological effects of RF radiation
Why do we need to worry that these phenomena of general
loss of performance also may have a causal relaonship,
among others, with the ubiquitous cell phone and wireless
networks? The “digitization of our world” means that, since
ca. 1998, our cells have been exposed to a continually increasing level of nonionizing radiation to which they have not adapted. There is a relationship between triggers of stress due to living conditions and RF radiation. Research results regarding the effects of nonionizing radiation on cells show similar effect mechanisms as the burnout research in environmental medicine (see Fig. 3).
Radio-frequency electromagnec fields (RF-EMF) interfere
with cell processes:
• RF-EMFs produce excessive cell-damaging free radicals and strongly reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, which in turn can damage the DNA (see below).
• The body’s own defense in the form of endogenous
radical scavengers (antioxidants) is weakened by RFEMFs (see below).
• The repair of DNA damage is impaired (BELYAEV et al.
• RF-EMFs interfere with the center of our metabolism,
the mitochondria, and thus interfere with our energy
producon: ATP producon is inhibited (SANDERS et
al. 1980, 1984, 1985).
• The decrease in ATP producon debilitates the entire
• The exposure to RF radiaon triggers a downward
spiral of disease. RF-EMFs accelerate toxic cascades.
“The clinical picture of AEDS or acquired energy dyssymbiosis
syndrome … describes a deficiency in cell energy with a simultaneous deterioraon of the cell milieu. This leads to mitochondriopathy. Energy production is blocked; the power plants of the cell are transformed into efficient sources of free radicals.” (WARNKE 2007)
———— Unnatural environment and
little protection
All living organisms, especially those living in the atmosphere, are immersed in ever-growing layers of radiofrequency radiaon as well as electric and magnec fields.
Satellites show that the highest level of radiation of technical
origin is found across Europe; the U.S. and China are somewhat less exposed (LIGHT et al. 2001).
The statements by those in power (policians, network providers, “experts“) have remained the same for years:
“According to the current body of scienfic knowledge, there
is no risk to human health below the exposure guidelines.” In
Germany, the exposure limits of the 26th Ordinance Implemenng the Federal Immission Control Act apply. And the authorities keep repeang the same statements, assuring the public that, based on current knowledge, cell phone radiation is safe. Those findings that do show effects would not be
reproducible. People who refer to themselves as electrosensitive are labeled as experiencing a nocebo response or suffering from a mental illness. And the spurious argument that there is no effect mechanism that would explain a risk also keeps coming up. The quantum energy of the radiation, it is said, is far too low; it is several orders of magnitude below the thermal noise level, which is why it would not have the power to impair or damage living organisms.
Normally one would expect that the biological response to
weak and very weak magnetic fields and RF radiation of cell
phone and other wireless communicaon technologies
would be masked by the – stronger quantum -thermal noise
inside the human body. Because at temperatures between
20 °C and 40 °C, as occur in the human body, molecules and
their components are in constant random motion. A signal
with lower energy then that cannot change this motion in
any meaningful way. Adverse effects could therefore not
exist as long as the allegedly damaging fields are lost in this
random noise and an increase in temperature can be prevented. And this is what current exposure limits guarantee, and all worldwide experts in politics and industry adopt this argumentation from one another.
Yet disastrously, it is exactly this central point of their placating argument that is false. There is not only a conceivable but even a completely plausible effect mechanism, which is able to explain DNA damage and all other described symptoms for such low-energy, nonthermal fields, and this completely independent of an increase in temperature. It is the
Fig.2: Pathogenesis of inflammation, mitochondriopathy,
and nitrosave stress as a result of the exposure to trigger
factors (VON BAEHR 2012)
umwelt·medizin·gesellschaft | 26 | 1/2013
producon of free radicals through nonionizing radiaon of
wireless networks, which provokes the destrucon of body
cells and genes.
Then what is the rationale for how electromagnetic fields of
cell phone and other wireless communicaon technologies
generate disease?
Fact #1: Never before has the Earth’s atmosphere been saturated with so many electric and magnec fields and nonstop
electromagnetic radiation of technical origin, and this radia-
on exposure conntiues to increase.
Fact #2: Inflammation triggered by oxidative stress and its
resulting cardiovascular diseases (e.g. infarct, arteriosclerosis, etc.) are the number one cause of death in industrial countries, closely followed by tumors (see Fig. 4). Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), among others, show an increasing
Question: Does a causal relaonship beyond the presently
known risk factors exist?
Numerous consistent scienfic findings show that the radiation of cell phone and other wireless communicaon technologies can produce additional ROS/RNS in living organisms;
this can occur in the presence of both ELF magnetic fields as
well as RF electromagnetic fields. The energy of these fields
that can trigger effects is several orders of magnitude below
the average thermal noise level (FRIEDMAN et al. 2007).
———— RF-radiation-induced increase
in free radicals: nitric oxide (NO)
and reactive nitrogen species (RNS)
Cell phone radiation at 900 MHz induced increased nitric
oxide or NO levels in rat brains. Malondialdehyde (MDA)
levels, xanthine oxidase (XO) acvity, und adenosine deaminase (ADA) acvity were also increased. At the same time,
superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase
(GSH-Px) acvies decreased in the brain. These unfavorable
changes could be prevented through appropriate doses of
ginkgo biloba extract as an anoxidant (ILHAN et al. 2004; for
similar results also see OZGÜNER et al. 2005, 2006, PAREDI et
al. 2001, YARIKTAS et al. 2005).
——— RF-radiation-induced increase
in reactive oxygen species (ROS)
Numerous single studies demonstrate the producon of oxidave stress through nonionizing radiaon. The study by
MOUSTAFA et al. 2001 showed that cell phone radiaon at
900 MHz produces oxidave stress by increasing lipid peroxidaon and interfering with anoxidase acvies. This already occurred in adult male volunteers while the cell phone was still in standby mode in their coat pocket. Plasma lipid peroxide levels increased significantly a6er 1, 2, and 4 hours in standby mode. The acvity of the radical scavengers SOD
and GSH-Px in human erythrocytes had decreased. It says in
the abstract:
“These results indicate that acute exposure to radiofrequency
fields of commercially available cellular phones may modulate the oxidative stress of free radicals by enhancing lipid
peroxidation and reducing the activation of superoxide dismutase and total glutathione peroxidase, which are free radical scavengers. Therefore, these results support the interaction of radiofrequency fields of cellular phones with biological systems.” (MOUSTAFA et al. 2001, summary EMF-Portal).
A human blood platelet suspension was exposed to 900 MHz
cell phone radiaon for 1, 3, 5, and 7 minutes. A6er 1, 5, and
7 minutes, the malonaldehyde (MDA) level increased and at
the same time the SOD acvity decreased. At 3 minutes, the
acvity levels were temporarily reversed (STOPCZYK et al.
2002). The 930 MHz cell phone radiaon only increased the
reactive oxygen species (ROS) level in rat lymphocytes when
the cells were treated with iron ions (ZMYSLONY et al. 2004).
A study by the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, USA, found that melatonin levels – an
effecve antioxidant – decreased considerably with cell
phone calls of longer than 25 minutes (BURCH et al. 2002).
The cell phone radiation increased the malondialdehyde
(MDA) concentration in rat brains, but not phospholipids and
p53 immune reacons (DASDAG et al. 2004, 2009).
RF radiation at 1800 MHz causes damage to the mtDNA. This
research project was financed by the Chinese government. In
this project, DNA damage in mitochondria of rat cortical neuFig.3: Summary of effects on the cellular level caused by
electromagnec fields (GYE & PARK 2012)
EMF: electromagnec field; N: nucleus; ER: endoplasmac
reculum; M: mitochondria
umwelt·medizin·gesellschaft | 26 | 1/2013
rons was demonstrated, which had been induced by cell
phone radiaon with a pulse of 217 Hz. The 1800 MHz RF
radiaon caused the oxidave damage through the formaon of reacve oxygen species (ROS), which are implicated in various nervous system diseases (XU et al. 2009).
Addtiional research findings confirm that RF-EMF causes oxidave stress, and that at power density levels well below the exposure limits (ATASOY et al. 2012, AYATA et al. 2004, AYDIN & AKAR 2011, CAMPISI et al. 2010, CEYHAN et al. 2012, ELHAG et al. 2007, ESKEMAYA et al. 2011, GULER et al. 2010, GUMRAL et al. 2009, GUNEY et al. 2007, KESARI et al. 2010,
2011, 2012, KIHRAZOVA et al. 2012, KOYU et al 2005, LU et
al. 2012, OKTEM et al. 2005, OZGUR et al. 2010, SOKOLOVIC
et al. 2008, YAO et al. 2008, YUREKLI et al. 2006). See also the
summary paper by Desai et al., in which a detailed effect
mechanism is outlined (DESAI et al. 2009).
—— Effects on the endocrine system
An increasing number of research findings demonstrate the
effect of cell phone radiation on the stress hormone axis.
Several studies indicate effects on the endocrine system
(AUGNER et al. 2010, BUCHNER & EGER 2011, DJERIDANE et
al. 2008, ESME-KAYA et al. 2010, MEO et al. 2010, MISA
AGUSTINO et al. 2012, SAROOKHANI et al. 2011, SEYEDNOUR
& CHEKANIAZAR 2011, VANGELOVA & ISRAEL 2005). A systemac review of this topic is sll missing.
———— Electron transport enzymes
are magnetosensitive
The stimulation of free radicals including NO by physical
fields and radiation has been reliably validated by science.
This alone, however, does not prove the existence of damage
as along as the primary effect mechanism is not known. A
connecting link that explains the adverse effect was shown
by Friedman et al.. The enzyme NADH oxidase shows a high –
and entirely reproducible – sensivity to magnec and electromagnec fields of cell phones. Friedman et al. found that exposing rat cells to RF-EMF caused an immediate activation of the enzyme NADH oxidase, which resulted in an increased production of free radicals. And the study also offers an
effect mechanism: “This study delineates a detailed molecular mechanism by which electromagntiec fields at mobile phone frequency induces short-term MAPK acvaon and thereby transcripon and other cellular processes. … The first step is mediated in the plasma membrane by NADH oxidase,
which rapidly generates reactive oxygen species.” (FRIEDMAN
et al. 2007, according to EMF-Portal)
NADH oxidase is quite important in another respect. It is also
found in the cell nucleus where – depending on the redox
system – it can regulate gene expression, but also damage
genes (USHIO-FUKAI 2006).
Severe pathological deterioraon manifests itself when,
due to magnetic field and radio-frequency radiation exposure, additional reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as superoxide radical and hydrogen peroxide are produced that combine with the also increasingly produced NO to form the highly toxic peroxynitrite, which in turn reacts with hydrogen to form even more hydrogen peroxide (see Fig.4).
The agreement between the cascade triggered by magnetic
field and RF radiation exposures and the findings of the burnout research is obvious. Müller writes in his arcle Fagtiue from the Perspective of Clinical Environmental Medicine:
“The situation becomes especially critical when, under the
influence of environmental toxic agents and / or an increased
formation of peroxynitrite, the functioning of the mitochondria is impaired. They have the task of making the energy carrier molecules adenine triphosphate (ATP).There is much to suggest that the functional impairment of the mitochondria is equivalent to the disease pa:ern called burnout, whereas the prolonged damage to mitochondrial DNA induces chronic fague.” (MÜLLER 2012)
As early as 1985, the study by Sanders and colleagues
showed a decrease in ATP production due to weak RF radia-
on exposure (nonthermal effect): “Since brain temperature
did not increase, the microwave-induced increase in NADH
and decrease in ATP and CP concentrations was not due to
hyperthermia. This suggests a direct interaction mechanism.
It is consistent with the hypothesis of microwave inhibition of
mitochondrial electron transport chain function of ATP production.” (SANDERS et al. 1985, according to EMF-Portal).
Both approaches (cell phone research, burnout research)
suggest that the mitochondrial dysfunction is a result of damage to the mitochondrial function complexes caused by ROS/
RNS: “Mitochondriopathies lead to progressive inactivation of
the respiratory chain and other mitochondrial functions, and
in turn to severe neuropathies, encephalopathies, cardio-/
myopathies, and endocrinopathies.” (BIEGER 2012).
Fig.4: Graph of possible combinaon effects, which can result in addive and synergisc DNA damage, also including
electromagnec fields (WITTE 2012)
umwelt·medizin·gesellschaft | 26 | 1/2013
——————— Extending the lifetime
of free radicals
This pathological cascade is enhanced by EMFs because even
rather low magnetic field intensies affect chemical reacons
and extend the lifeme of free radicals (BROCKLEHURST &
MCLAUCHLAN 1996, NEITZKE 2012, WARNKE 2009). The
model of Scaiano et al. demonstrates that in the presence of
a magnec field the radical concentraon increases. The halflife of free radicals is extended (SCAIANO et al. 1994). The
possibilies for radical reacons to occur have thus increased. Within a magnec field, the lifeme of free radicals
is extended in such a way that the electron transfer within
the DNA can be affected, which in turn also changes the protein inducon (MOHTAT et al.1998). Magnec fields extend
the lifeme of free radicals by impairing the intersystem
crossing in triplet radicals (CHIGNELL & SIK 1995, WARNKE
Regarding the queson of health problems and risks
The effect mechanism documented by Friedman et al. (2007)
is of such utmost importance because it shows that there is a
well-explained biological basis for the subjecve symptoms
many people suffer from. By studying the cascades listed
below, it is easier to understand why electrosmog is dangerous.
—————— Functional impairments
and disease patterns
EMF-induced excessive ROS/RNS smulaon can be divided
into three areas of effects, which are run through one a6er
• Stimulation of free radicals,
• Stimulation of highly toxic peroxynitrite,
•  Stimulation of highly toxic peroxide radical.
The consequences of these processes are serious: cell components are destroyed; antioxidants taken up with food and
the electron-rich substances manufactured by the body are
used up; the damaging cholesterol increases. Such a person
feels red, tense, fights various inflammations and a broad
range of associated illnesses, which show similaries to the
burnout syndrome.
————————— Acquired energy
dyssymbiosis syndrome (AEDS)
The clinical picture of AEDS or acquired energy dyssymbiosis
syndrome describes a deficiency in cell energy with a simultaneous deterioraon of the cell milieu. This leads to mitochondriopathy. Energy producon (ATP) is blocked; the power plants of the cell are transformed into efficient sources of free radicals. These changes have serious consequences:
Inflammatory processes spread and release additional substances that have adverse effects (tumor necrotic factor TNFa and again nitric oxide) at excessive levels. We should always bear in mind that in our industrial society inflammation-based illnesses continue to increase and that arteriosclerosis such as myocardial infarction – the number one cause of
death – is basically one of them. Today this view has gained acceptance among the sciensts of the medical community.
Aerobic glycolysis (glycolysis despite the presence of oxygen)
is acvated as an emergency power generator, which in turn
is associated with:
• Simulation of proto-oncogenes (precursors of oncogenes)
• Increased release of superoxide radicals
• Lactate acidosis (hyperacidosis).
Eventually the genome of the mitochondria will mutate. But
exactly this pathological change can also be inherited from
the mother. The offspring will have to carry the burden, and
the change becomes integrated into the genec material of
generations to come.
This is the disease state of a growing number of people within our polluted environment. It can manifest itself as burnout syndrome or electromagnec hypersensivity. This pathological cascade reveals that the nonionizing radiaon of wireless communicaon technologies does not directly cause damage to cells like ionizing radiaon does, but it triggers many diseases based on oxidave stress through an indirect pathway by producing free radicals, and thus can cause burnout syndrome or exacerbate it.
H.-P. Neitzke (ECOLOG-Instut) states: “With the current and
soon to be available technology, it will not be possible to realize the AACC visions of “Anytime, Anywhere Communication
and Computing” in a manner that is compable with human
health.” (NEITZKE 2010, EMF-Monitor 6/2010)
(Note: A comprehensive version of this arcle is published in
German as a research report by the Kompetenziniave e.V.
and Diagnose-Funk e.V.. Available as a free download at: &
Dr. rer. nat. Ulrich Warnke
Instut Technische Biologie & Bionik
c/o Internaonales Bionikzentrum
Science Park 2 an Universität des Saarlandes
66123 Saarbrücken
Peter Hensinger, Diagnose-Funk e.V.
Umwelt- und Verbraucherorganisaon
zum Schutz vor elektromagnescher Strahlung
Bismarckstr. 63
70197 Stu_gart | www.mobilfunkstudien.deELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS
umwelt·medizin·gesellschaft | 26 | 1/2013
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