Ionizing and non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation in modern medicine
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Faculty of Public Health, Stanislaw Staszic College of Public Administration, Białystok, Poland
Department of Rehabilitation, Medical University, Białystok, Poland
Faculty of Biology and Chemistry, University of Białystok, Poland
Department of Allergy, Cambridge University Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Department of Respiratory Diagnostics and Bronchoscopy, Medical University, Białystok, Poland
Ryszard Rutkowski   

Starobojarska 20/6, 15-073 Białystok, Poland. Tel.: +48 608 255 565.
Submission date: 2012-06-03
Acceptance date: 2012-07-10
Publication date: 2020-04-10
Pol. Ann. Med. 2012;19(2):134–138
Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) has been successfully employed in modern medicine for many years. The medical community, however, often lacks in-depth knowledge concerning different types of radiation, their mechanisms of action and clinical applications.

Our review offers a comprehensive overview of the biological action of ionizing radiation (IR) and non-ionizing radiation (NIR) and their applications in modern medicine. Chronic exposure to a high frequency electromagnetic field (EMF) as a potential public health risk is also discussed.

Material and methods:
Current literature on IR and NIR has been reviewed and grouped thematically.

Results and discussion:
Biological effects of EMR depend on its physical properties. IR is a potentially lethal stream of high energy particles. NIR carries less energy. EMR can damage DNA directly or indirectly via reactive oxygen/nitrogen species. It has been, however, successfully used in oncology (radiotherapy), physiotherapy (microwaves), rheumatology and endocrinology. Effective communication and data transmission are possible thanks to radio-, micro- and infrared waves. Cybernetics and modern forms of communication have been instrumental in the development of telerehabilitation and telemedicine. Evidence for the detrimental effects of cell phones, the most common source of EMR, on the developing central nervous system is scarce, but concerns have been raised about their carcinogenicity.

Modern medicine cannot function without IR and NIR. However, their potentially undesirable biological side effects need to be taken into account.

None declared.
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