Are electric blankets safe? –



Dr Gabe Mirkin

There is no good data to show that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) produced by electric blankets, cell phones and other devices cause cancer. Electric blankets emit radiation from the movement of electric current through wires. Extensive animal studies have repeatedly failed to show that low-frequency radiation EMFs cause cancer (Advances in biophysics and molecular biology 2011; 107 (3): 369-373).

EMFs are classified into:
• High frequency EMC, such as x-rays and gamma rays, which can damage cells and DNA and cause cancer (CA Cancer J Clin, March-April, 2012; 62 (2): 75-100).
• Intermediate frequency EMC that can damage cells, such as those produced in household microwave ovens (Am J Emerg Med2013 Jun 31; 31 (6): 958-63). Long-term exposure to microwaves has been reported to increase the risk of changes in cancer cells (Exp Oncol2011 Jun 23; 33 (2): 62-70), but microwave ovens are made with additional shielding to reduce leakage. For added safety, you should not stay near a microwave oven when it is on.
• Low frequency EMC, such as those from electrical devices, radio waves, your doctor’s MRI scans, infrared radiation, and visible light, have not been shown to damage DNA to cause cancer (Prog Biophys Mol Biol, Dec. 2011; 107 (3): 369-73). These include electrical wiring and electrical appliances such as electric blankets, cordless phones, razors, hair dryers, radios, televisions, and laptops.

Electric blankets seem safe
I haven’t found any strong evidence that electric blankets increase the risk of cell damage or cancer. I have found studies that have shown no increased risk for electric blankets causing:
• thyroid cancer (Women’s health, February 15, 2016; 55 (7): 829-841)
• breast cancer (American Journal of Epidemiology2000 Jul 1; 152 (1): 41–49)
• endometrial cancer (Am J Epidemiol2002 Aug 1; 156 (3): 262-7)
I found a 20-year study linking electric blankets to a slightly increased risk of endometrial cancer (Eur J from Can Preven, Jun, 2007; 16 (3): 243-50), and another study on the increased risk of miscarriage from exposure to non-ionizing radiation (Scientific reports, Dec. 13 2017; 7 (17541)).

My recommendations
At this time, I can’t find any strong evidence that electric blankets increase the risk of cell damage or cancer. However, increasing the distance between your body and the electric blanket significantly decreases your exposure to electromagnetic waves (Occupational and environmental medicine, 2009; 66 (8): 550-6). Simply moving the electric blanket 10 centimeters away from your body decreases electromagnetic waves by over 90 percent (Scientific reports, Dec. 13 2017; 7 (17541 :). I have no evidence that you need to do this, but putting the electric blanket over a sheet and another blanket will greatly reduce your exposure to electromagnetic waves. The safety instructions provided with these blankets remind you not to put other blankets or blankets on an electric blanket.

Dr Gabe Mirkin is a villager. Learn more at



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