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What Should I Know about Electric Blankets and Cancer?

Studies on a possible connection between electric blankets and cancer have been inconclusive.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 April 2014
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For a number of years, people have heard reports of electric blankets causing cancer. Some people dismiss this as nothing more than an urban legend, while others insist there is a scientific basis for the idea. In fact, there has been a great deal of study into the relationship between electric blankets and cancer. Unfortunately, there is no consensus on whether there is really a connection, or if the whole idea is simply a myth.

The discussion about electric blanket use and cancer risks usually revolves around the issue of electromagnetic fields that emanate from various types of wiring. In theory, the wiring in an electric blanket would emit a field as readily as the wiring found in the home or the power lines that supply electricity to residences and other buildings. If this is true, then continued exposure to the field via the regular use of an electric blanket could help to trigger a number of ailments, including the development of cancer.

What is often at issue is whether or not an electric blanket has an electromagnetic field strong enough to trigger the growth of cancer cells in the body. People who do not believe that blankets pose a serious threat point out that all sorts of items generate fields of their own, including televisions, computers, and various types of kitchen appliances, which emit a field far stronger than an electric blanket.

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Proponents of the connection point out that it is sometimes a matter of proximity for extended periods, rather than the strength of the field. Wiring in the home is generally located inside walls, so there is a barrier between individuals and the origin of the field. People tend to not operate kitchen appliances and remain in their presence for hours on end. People do spend six to eight hours at a time under an electric blanket, however, with little more separation than a simple bed sheet.

While it would seem that scientific studies would confirm or debunk any connection between electric blankets and cancer, there have been no definitive conclusions. The results of some studies indicate that women who frequently use electric blankets are at a greater risk of developing breast cancer. A few studies indicate that men sleeping under an electric blanket may be at a greater risk for testicular cancer.

At the same time, other studies find no difference between test subjects who use the blankets and those who don’t. Evaluations of these different studies by government health agencies do little to bring clarity to the matter. Some agencies find there is a connection, while others see no appreciable risk at all.

In the final analysis, the best option is to make your own decision about electric blanket warnings and determine how you will respond. If you feel there is some legitimacy to the concept of a fact based electric blanket cancer fear, remove the devices from your home and use other methods to keep warm at night. On the other hand, if you feel the purported connection has no basis, you may choose to continue using your blanket on cold nights. Until irrefutable evidence is produced, the best anyone can do is weigh the options for themselves and make a personal decision.

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Discuss this Article

anon164987
Post 6

My wife was told by our mutual friends that her electric blanket causes cancer. these same friends are heavy smokers.

anon150734
Post 5

I am now 80 years of age and my husband is 84. We have used electric blankets since they first came on the market and neither of us have suffered any side effects whatsoever. In fact I cannot imagine life without electric blankets!

spreadsheet
Post 4

While there are no conclusive results from many times that science has attempted to study the effects of electromagnetic fields on the body, there is no doubt that these EMF fields are very strong forces that can be measured in very specific increments with fairly basic technology.

When I was a young student in elementary school I completed a science fair project that involved the use of growing algae cells placed in an environment that was surrounded by EMF fields.

The EMF health risks to the algae was not apparent and you could hardly call my very trivial project any kind of evidence but there is no doubt that a need for more conclusive evidence in this field is needed.

jeancastle00
Post 3

I agree with MrPolitic99 when he says that we simply do not have the right kind of information and scientific studies to determine if the use of electric blankets is truly an issue or not.

Perhaps more research into the general fields of physics and electricity should be completed on a more general level to determine if there is a major threat or not presented by the use of electric blankets.

JoseJames
Post 2

Personally, I think that people sound crazy when they try to make a link between electric blankets and cancer. I have been using electric blankets for the past twenty years and never in my life have I had any kind of issue with them. My body stays free of cancer and I still able to run a mile in under eight minutes. I think I am a prime example of how there is no risk in using these very useful devices to keep you warm.

If you are one of those individuals who are susceptible to random scare surveys and studies then you should probably do the research yourself so that you are not spreading rumors and false information to the general public.

MrPolitic99
Post 1

While the author purports that the link between cancer and the use of electric blankets as an absolute myth, I have to disagree with the sure assumption that is made by this statement. Just because we do not currently have any scientific studies to support the idea that electromagnetic fields are harmful to the body, I don't think that we have been using these types of electrical devices for long enough to properly determine all of the side effects that they can cause.

Because the advancement of technology in our society has only come to using electricity in the mainstream over the past hundred years, there are lots of unknown dangers that could be lurking behind the fresh plastic covered electronic components.

I think in the very least that we should take great care in the way that we are using electronics and continue to study their effects on the health of our bodies.

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