Why Fitness Influencers Want You to Protect Yourself From Invisible Energy Waves
Does wifi actually cause cancer? Here's what you need to know
The man they call Liver King is a yoked, bearded, sunburnt Texan who subsists solely on the uncooked organs of animals. He walks barefoot through the forest every morning, claims he’s allergic to T-shirts and owns an armory of guns, grenades and bazookas, which he’ll deploy, from time to time, to destroy those things he hates more than anything else (vegan burgers and sunscreen).
It’s sad enough that he makes the rest of his family walk the path of “ancestral living,” and regularly sit down for what he calls “carnivore salads” (e.g. a bowl of chopped-up pork skin). But it’s shocking that 1.4 million people encourage this sort of behavior. Many are tuning in ironically, just to enjoy the show, but some actively look to Liver King for divine fitness wisdom, which he is more than happy to provide.
Peel back the Instagram costume, though, and Liver King (whose real name is the not-as-fun Brian Johnson), is just another internet biohacker. He’s in the business of convincing his followers that certain adjustments — both major and minor — are pivotal to their well-being and longevity. Many of these suggestions are criminally insane, like encouraging people to pull weighted sleds with their jaws, some are quite commons (ice baths) and others exist in a nebulous middle, where enough influencers are talking about the same lifestyle game-changer that you almost have to entertain that they might be on to something.
Liver King, like Ben Greenfield, Joe Rogan, Ann Louise Gittleman, Kyle Kingsbury, and many others, has devoted time to educating his followers on the purported perils of electromagnetic fields (EMF), and proudly sleeps in a bedroom that is not only devoid of tech, but shrouded with specialized curtains that block radiations from even entering the building.
For those who feel borderline concussed after reading that sentence, here’s a quick primer: radiation doesn’t just come from the fancy X-ray equipment at the doctor’s office or your local dentist. It also emits from manmade structures like powers lines and wind turbines, and everyday devices like microwaves, televisions, iPhones, laptops, smart household appliances, and most significantly, wifi routers. Anywhere that electricity is used, low-frequency radiation will follow, in a form that the National Institute of Environmental Sciences calls: “invisible areas of energy.”
That sounds ominous. Fitness influencers certainly think it is, or at least, want you to think that it is. They speak of the devastating impact broad-scale 5G will have on the health of the country, speak of hiring “building biologists” in order to hack their bedrooms to safer sleeping routines and endorse EMF-blocking shirts, beanies and pendants, which, unsurprisingly, are not inexpensive.
At the moment, the primary stated concern with EMF radiation is that has carcinogenic effects. (You might have already been slightly aware of this concept, if you’ve ever heard the line that watching your food cook in the microwave could give you cancer.) But as of yet, there is zero evidence to back this claim. The EMFs we’re most frequently exposed to are non-ionizing, which means they don’t have the chutzpah to actually mess with your electrons. According to the NIH, they’re “generally perceived as harmless to humans.”
The “generally” is important here — scientists have no conclusive proof that constant exposure to the grid (which, to be fair, is a very new invention), doesn’t cause cancer. But no association has yet been found. Moreover, according to the National Cancer Institute, the incidence rate of brain and central nervous system cancers hasn’t increased since the dawn of cell phone use.
Every single research institute agrees that more studies are needed in the coming years (the World Health Organization even started the International EMF Project). After all, as phones get more advanced, they’re likely to emit energy waves at higher radiofrequencies. We’re also seeing prodigious phone use, as screentime as rocketed up over the last decade, and children grow accustomed to holding them at a young age. No one can say for sure that it’s totally safe to sleep next to a wifi-connected, Bluetooth-compatible brick every single night for 50 years.
But that’s sort of the point — the world’s top scientists are still looking into it, so why take the word of a few, well-followed personalities online that EMF blocking is the crusade of our time? There’s a beautifully on-brand irony to the fact that Liver King is so wary of electromagnetic fields that he’s cocooned his home in expensive shields, but he’s utterly unwilling to protect himself from another massive source of radiation: the sun. We know for a fact that the sun causes cancer. Maybe EMF-blocking funds could be spent on sunscreen that won’t meet its end at the spray of an AR-15?
You’re allowed to be worried about EMF radiation, even if it isn’t a pressing threat. Consider some common-sense steps to limit your exposure, like turning off your wifi router at night, sleeping with your phone in another room and turning off smart appliances when they aren’t in use (even an air purifier, for instance, gives off radiation). But please, please, do not add this worry to your laundry list of doomscrolling, or, god forbid, spend some of your paycheck on a $100 protective necklace. Low-level radiation is already out of sight. For now, try to keep it out of mind, too.
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