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In the cold winter months it’s tempting to pull out the heating pads and electric blankets to help keep warm and alleviate minor discomforts. But are they safe? Heating pads, used correctly to create moist heat, can provide temporary relief from mild aches and pains such as pulled muscles, menstrual cramps, and stiff joints. However electric heating pads, along with other household appliances such as electric blankets and mattress covers, hair dryers, computers, and coffeemakers, all generate electromagnetic fields (EMFs). These invisible lines of force surround electrical equipment, power cords, and power lines, and their potential effects have been in the center of controversy surrounding a possible link to the development of cancers.
Research has not concluded whether EMFs disrupt the cellular systems that control the normal growth and development of tissues. Interfering with these processes might increase the risk of cancer, and the possibility of an EMF/cancer connection hasn’t been definitively ruled out. Because we can’t say for sure that EMFs are harmless, I recommend using a non-electric heating pad, such as one that you warm up in a microwave oven, or that uses hot water.