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EMF & Brain Damage – What ‘Concussion’ Tells Us About EMF Science

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I recently watched the 2015 film Concussion, starring Will Smith, about the epidemic of brain damage injuries in the NFL. And it has an excellent lesson for those trying to understand how big businesses control EMF science.

If you don’t know, Concussion follows the true story of Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Smith), who diagnosed a traumatic brain injury in a deceased football player.

This, in turn, led Dr. Omalu to discover what has become known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (or CTE).


CTE is a neurodegenerative disease estimated to affect 28% of professional football players in the US. This disease can lead to devastating outcomes like early-onset Alzheimer’s and debilitating dementia.

Now, the movie is a good one, with an outstanding performance by Will Smith. And the story is incredibly compelling. 

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But that’s not why I’m writing about it.

I decided to write about this movie because when I watched it, I was struck at just how much the NFL’s response to Dr. Omalu’s findings mimicked what we see in how the wireless industry responds to concerns about EMF health effects.

Now, keep in mind, Dr. Omalu’s findings essentially boiled down to “getting hit in the head, tens of thousands of times, with the force of a jackhammer, can damage the brain.” 

(Of course, I don’t mean to diminish Dr. Omalu’s work; he did the science, determined the mechanisms and specific, measurable biological outcomes– he did real science and important work. But also, his findings essentially boiled down to “getting hit in the head, hard, a lot, can damage your brain.”)

I state Dr. Omalu’s work in such simple terms because, well, when you hear it in those terms, you naturally think: “well, of course!”

Of course, getting pummeled in the head repeatedly can damage your brain. 

It’s just common sense.

The Reaction

But, as the movie shows, that’s *not* how the NFL reacted. Or the media. Or the public. 

Not at first.

The NFL paid for their own research, performed by their own hand-picked “experts.” These experts said there were no links between football and brain injuries.

Dr. Bennet Omalu with Will Smith

The media covered it as a “he said, she said.” As though there was any real basis for a debate.

The NFL told retired players who were suffering from the devastating effects of CTE that their condition did not exist.

They harassed Dr. Omalu and his colleagues. 

They attempted to suppress his findings. 

And it worked for several years. 

Dr. Omalu ended up having to move across the country and get a new job to avoid deportation. 

Until, years later, his findings were vindicated by the NFL, and the NFL settled a lawsuit (for an undisclosed sum) from 5,000 players. And the NFL has also modified the design of the helmets that players are required to wear for increased safety.

Big Business & EMF Science

'Overpowered' by Dr. Martin Blank

As I watched this all play out in the movie, I was constantly reminded of the tactics of the wireless industry. 

My father and I devoted an entire chapter of Overpowered (Chapter 9, “Doubt, from Tobacco to Interphone”) to the subject of how the wireless industry has adopted the tobacco industry playbook to combat serious health concerns about their product.

Because understanding the influence of big business is crucial to understanding how EMF science works.

This is the same playbook used by the NFL in their battle against recognizing CTE.

But what struck me most about this movie was that the NFL was able to successfully employ the tobacco playbook against claims that were just obviously true. 

How could it be controversial to claim that smashing your head with a massive force, tens of thousands of times, can lead to brain damage?

Seriously. How?

But the NFL was successful. For many, many years. By using the tobacco playbook.

And if the NFL could successfully delay and avoid recognition of, and liability for, something so obviously apparent to anyone with common sense willing to look, then you start to see why the wireless industry has had such success employing this very same playbook against the health concerns of EMF exposure.

After all, holding a cell phone against your head does not cause the type of immediate, obvious, visually-apparent damage that smashing your brain does. Neither does exposure to 5G.

What Research Says About How EMF Affects Your Brain

Thousands of research studies by scientists worldwide say that prolonged EMF exposure causes devastating effects to your brain. 

Though a complex machine, our brain is susceptible to EMF signals. And when you hold your phone against your head while making a call, it absorbs the EMF from your phone, resulting in a number of possible complications. Have a look.

Changes in Blood-Brain-Barrier Permeability

There’s a protein called albumin in your blood that helps with your physical growth and tissue repair. It’s one of the many crucial elements without which your body can’t function properly.

But, as critical as it is, this protein must stay in your blood and never pass through your blood-brain barrier (BBB) to get into your brain. The BBB acts as a boundary between your circulating blood and the extracellular space you have in your brain.

Conditions like epileptic seizures, severe hypertension, and sepsis can weaken the integrity of the BBB, allowing albumin to enter your brain. This results in problems like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. And if you suffer from any underlying conditions, albumin’s presence in your brain can worsen your symptoms.

Research studies suggest that EMF is also one of the few things with the ability to weaken the BBB’s integrity.

In his 1994 study, Leif Salford Ph.D. revealed how prolonged EMF exposure weakens the blood-brain barrier and lets harmful substances like albumin inside the brain.

He also explained his findings in a lecture, which you can watch in this YouTube re-upload.

Effects on Neuronal Calcium Channels

Your cells need calcium to survive. But, there’s a limit to how much calcium can enter your cells, as excess calcium can lead to necrosis (unnatural cell death).

So, to prevent excess calcium from entering your cells, there’s something called the Voltage-Gated Calcium Channel (VGCC) that functions just like the blood-brain barrier. But unlike the BBB, whose job is to completely prevent substances like albumin from entering your brain, the VGCC is a regulator.

This means the VGCC intelligently controls the amount of calcium that gets in your cells, and once there’s enough calcium, the VGCC closes its gates

Now the problem is, just like the BBB, the VGCC is highly sensitive to human-made EMFs. In fact, Dr. Martin Pall says that it’s roughly 7.2 million times more sensitive to human-made EMF than to natural EMFs in our environment.

The VGCC also plays a vital role in regulating various neuronal activities like neurotransmitter release, nerve cell excitation, and neuronal synaptic plasticity. Because of this, prolonged EMF exposure causes several neurophysiological changes in your brain, which can result in a number of serious problems.

Impaired Learning and Memory

Researchers say that since your ears are incredibly close to your cranial nervous system, holding your EMF-emitting phone against your ear can cause several neurological problems. These problems include headaches, changes in sleep habits, changes in electroencephalogram, and changes in blood pressure.

Epidemiological studies report that exposing your cranial nervous system to EMF for a long time can impair your learning and memory abilities.

Learn more about EMF’s effects on the human brain in my separate in-depth post, “EMF & Brain Health.

That’s Just the Brain: There’s More

EMF’s ill effects aren’t limited to the human brain. Prolonged exposure affects you both physically and mentally. You can visit my “EMF Health Effects” page to learn more about those effects and what you can do about them.

The EMF Industry is Significantly Bigger than NFL

So, you see, there is a vast amount of science showing how detrimental prolonged EMF exposure is for the general population. But why don’t we see these studies in the mainstream media?

The fact is, today, the global telecom industry is valued at almost 1.5 trillion dollars—magnitudes higher than what the NFL is worth. And that’s just the telecom industry. If we take a look at the global tech industry, it’s valued at roughly 5.2 trillion dollars.

And while football fans love the NFL, that love pales in comparison to everyone’s actual economic and social dependence on wireless technology.


  • EMF is a more complex force than the force of getting hit in the head.
  • EMF health effects are harder to demonstrate and communicate than CTE.
  • The financial power of the firms that oppose recognition of EMF health effects is much greater than that of the NFL.
  • More people are more addicted to the products of the wireless industry.

In other words, advocates of stricter regulations on EMF have a much tougher row to hoe than Dr. Omalu.

This is critical to understanding why strengthening EMF regulations has proven so difficult, despite the overwhelming amount of evidence of harm to human health.If you get the chance, check out Concussion. It’s a really good movie—and a terrific illustration of the tactics used by big businesses to control science and combat regulation.

Is There Anything You Can Do?

The tech and telco industries are huge, and their products will only be much more intense when it comes to EMF emissions in the future. And though it may feel like there’s nothing you can do, there is. You can protect yourself and your loved ones from EMF’s ill effects without quitting the convenience of technology. 

Here’s how.

The Two Key Rules of EMF Protection

I’ve said this hundreds of times in my posts, interviews, talks, and webinars, and I’ll say it again here: The best EMF protection is always free

Indeed, you can purchase EMF shielding products—in fact, we at SYB make and sell lab-tested EMF shielding products to help you minimize your EMF exposure—but these products, including ours, are the second line of defense. 

The first one is and always will be to minimize your tech use and maximize your distance from EMF-emitting gadgets. Let’s break it down.

Minimize Use

The first rule of EMF protection asks you to minimize your tech use. If you want to mitigate your EMF exposure, simply spend less time around EMF sources. And this also doesn’t have to hurt your important daily interaction with your gadgets. You can minimize your tech use at times when using gadgets is not so necessary. For example:

  • Instead of scrolling social media and binging online content, you can pick up a new offline hobby.
  • You can turn off your WiFi router at night when it’s not in use.
  • And instead of keeping all wireless features working on your phone, you can simply put your phone in airplane mode when you don’t have the use for wireless connectivity.

Maximize Distance

The second rule of EMF mitigation is to maximize distance from EMF-emitting gadgets.

It doesn’t matter what kind of wireless network you’re dealing with. Be it Bluetooth, WiFi, 2G, 3G, 4G, and even 5G, they’re all bound to one rule: “The power of EMF weakens with distance.” So, the more distance you keep from your gadget, the weaker the EMF hitting your body will be.

For example:

  • You can carry your phone in a bag instead of your pockets or bra
  • Use your laptop on a table instead of your lap
  • Keep your WiFi router at least 5 meters away from your common areas

You just need to find a way to keep your gadgets as far away from your body as you can without losing your ability to benefit from them.

Educate & Advocate

These are probably the most important aspects of EMF mitigation: educate and advocate. See, EMF is a complex subject, and a minor mistake while trying to reduce your exposure can totally invert the result.

We have a ton of resources on the SYB website, which you can start reading for free today. I recommend starting with our “Free EMF Tips” page.

The second aspect is to advocate. Why? Because even though you can manage to mitigate your EMF exposure on a personal level, you’ll still encounter large amounts of EMF pollution in the environment. And reducing that requires a collaborative effort.

We have a helpful guide that teaches you how to talk with people in a way that convinces them to make some actual changes in their lives. It’s called the “EMF Advocacy Training Guide,” and you can download it for free on our website.

Healthier Relationship with Technology

It’s not just EMF that has an impact on your wellbeing. Gadgets and the internet, in general, can induce severe harm to you physically and mentally. This is why it’s essential for you to maintain a healthier relationship with technology.

Visit the “Healthier Tech” section of The SYB Blog to learn more about how you can build a healthier relationship with technology.

Final Thoughts

Though EMF has adverse effects, it’s not our enemy. Without human-made EMF, none of the technological advancements we have today would be possible. So, we’re not here to condemn it. 

But, as we’ve learned above, EMF exposure does carry serious risks. And we can’t wait for those to be acknowledged by the tech industry before we do something about it. 

By educating yourself, you can start to do things that put you and your loved ones on the safer side. One of those things, along with following the tips above, is building your body’s EMF resilience with proper nutrition.

Visit episode 5 of The Healthier Tech Podcast to learn more about the foods you can consume to strengthen your body against EMF’s ill effects. 

Where do you carry your phone?

Want to Slash Your EMF Health Risks?

Good! Learn the one small change you should make right now.

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About the Author

R Blank is the CEO of Shield Your Body, which he founded in 2012. With hundreds of thousands of customers in over 30 countries, and having been interviewed on platforms including Dr. Phil, ABC news television and ElectricSense, R is an internationally followed expert on issues of EMF, health and safety. He also hosts “The Healthier Tech Podcast”, available Apple, Spotify and all major podcasting platforms. In the past, he served on the faculty at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering as well as the University of California, Santa Cruz. Previously, R ran a software engineering firm in Los Angeles, producing enterprise-level solutions for blue chip clients including Medtronic, Apple, NBC, Toyota, Disney, Microsoft, the NFL, Ford, IKEA and Mattel. He has spoken at conferences around the world, including in the US, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands, and he is the co-author, along with his father Dr. Martin Blank, of ‘Overpowered‘ from Seven Stories Press about the science of health effects of EMF radiation. He has an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and received his bachelor’s degree, with honors, from Columbia University. He has also studied at Cambridge University in the UK; the University of Salamanca in Spain; and the Institute of Foreign Languages in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Read more about R and SYB or connect with R on LinkedIn.

Have a Question?

I take pride in designing great, effective products, based on real, measurable science – AND taking the time to ensure that each and every one of you has the information you need to understand EMF and make informed decisions.

So if you have a question, just email me and ask.

R Blank

R Blank