For over 25 years, orthopedic surgeon and researcher Becker has been tracking electromagnetic fields for better (medical applications) or worse (a panoply of ills). Here, he provides a wrap-up that packs a knowledgeable wallop, yet all too often oversteps the line into high-blown speculation. Becker's interest in electromagnetic phenomena began with research on limb regeneration in salamanders and the observation that applications of electric currents can stimulate bone growth in unhealed fractures in human patients. Of course, it is no news that living organisms generate electric currents and that the earth is bathed in radiation and magnetic fields. The bad news according to Becker--as well as Paul Brodeur in the recent Currents of Death (p. 1126)--is that civilization (and the military) have supersaturated the atmosphere with all manner of low, microwave, and radio frequencies that are damaging, not because they are so energetic as to produce heat or ionization, but because of their effects on cell growth and metabolism. Becker makes a strong case for non-ionizing radiation as a promoter of cancer (not a cause) as well as of birth defects. He sees links to stress and, through stress, deleterious effects on the immune and nervous systems. The evidence comes from an accumulation of epidemiological studies, animal experiments, and assorted anecdotal reports. As with Brodeur, the weight of evidence is enough to persuade the reader that this needs further investigation, if for nothing else than to sort out the many variables that may be involved in associations between radiation exposure and illness. Withal, however, Becker would have us see the virtues of the wise use of field phenomena and goes out on a limb to make connections with homeopathy, healers' skills, and ESP. He proposes some solutions for decontamination and expresses cautions with regard to bedside alarm clocks, electric blankets, and the like. On the whole, he would have been more convincing had he not pulled out all the stops in proclaiming radiation as panacea as well as peril.
Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1989
Page Count: -
Publisher: Tarcher--dist. by St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1989
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