You may be surprised to find out that the mattress you are lying on could in fact be acting as a radiation antenna3. This is a problem because an antenna will amplify electromagnetic waves, and some electromagnetic radiation has been linked to certain cancers. You don't want to be spending a third of your life lying in an electromagnetic field, yet this is exactly what you are doing if your mattress has any metal in it.
Which mattresses could act as an antenna?
If you have any metal in your mattress or base (for example the coils in a box spring mattress) then that metal can act as an antenna. Any FM or TV radiation of certain frequencies will be amplified by the metal in your mattress. The weak electromagnetic waves are captured and then amplified by any metal objects of specific length sized to match the wavelength of a specific frequency of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). Any piece of metal which has similar, half or one quarter of the wavelength of an electromagnetic wave of a specific frequency can act as an antenna. It doesn't have to 'look' like an antenna to behave in the same way.
What is the real-life evidence for this mattress problem?
Researchers noticed that in Japan, the rates of breast cancer and prostate cancer are much lower than in Western countries. One of the reasons noted for this difference in cancer levels is that the beds are different1. In Japan, futons are the usual bed of choice. In Western countries, in particular in the US, a spring mattress and box spring are more usual.
A futon does not have any metal in it, while a spring mattress contains quite a lot of metal. Thus, researchers are suspecting that the electromagnetic field of a spring mattress in combination with a box spring could be causing an increased risk of cancer.
Of course there are many other factors that are different between Japanese and Western life besides the beds. Therefore it is not 100% certain that the electromagnetic field of a box spring mattress is the main cause of the increased breast and prostate cancer rates in Western countries.
But there are some additional lines of evidence linking electromagnetic radiation with cancer. One of these is the link seen by researchers who noticed an increased risk of melanoma in areas where there were a lot of FM or TV transmission towers1. Such towers broadcast large amounts of electromagnetic radiation.
This situation is a complex field and we need to be aware that there is still uncertainty over the precise link between cancer risk and electromagnetic radiation. A review of many studies suggests that the link depends on the type of cancers and the type of electromagnetic radiation2. Thus certain types of electromagnetic radiation may cause certain types of cancers, but not other types.
In any case, for our purposes, we are concerned with eliminating the antenna effect of the mattress. Eliminating electromagnetic fields on our bed while sleeping will clearly be the safest thing to do.
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How will electromagnetic radiation affect me personally?
Not everyone exposed to electromagnetic fields will go on to develop cancer. The situation in reality is thought to be a very complex interplay of many factors, not solely the total amount of electromagnetic radiation. For example, your overall cancer risk will involve plenty of additional things such as whether or not you eat healthy foods, whether you have a genetic predisposition to certain types of cancers, your overall health, and so on. Yet, the evidence of the studies above suggests that electromagnetic radiation is one of these many factors3. So, you need to be aware that your mattress may be harming you if it contains any metal.4
Can I do anything to fix this?
The good news is that this problem of electromagnetic fields is within your control. You can do something about this. This is because it's not the small amounts of TV or FM radiation typically present in your room that you need to worry about. It's the amplification of this radiation by your mattress (if it contains metal) that you should worry about. So by changing to a safe mattress, you can avoid sleeping in an increased electromagnetic field.
How can I pick a safe mattress?
You can completely eliminate this antenna effect when you select a mattress which contains no metal. You'll want to ensure your bed base is also free of metal for the same reasons, of course.
A latex mattress is a superb choice for this, as it is made from a block of latex with no metal in it anywhere. Latex also has the added benefit of being a product made from natural sources: the sap of the rubber tree. You'll also be pleased to know that latex is naturally mould resistant and dust mite resistant without use of added chemicals.
Not only will a latex mattress eliminate the antenna effect, but it's also wonderfully comfortable! Many people love the initial 'sinking' feeling followed by a sense of supportive comfort when they lay on a latex mattress. In fact, many people with ailments such as back pain or joint pain select a latex mattress purely for its unparalleled comfort. So you can accomplish two goals with a latex mattress: eliminate the antenna effect entirely, and gain a lot more comfort.
Besides sleeping on a spring-less mattress, it is also better to sleep on spring-less support system. A perfect solution for this are flexible and personally adjustable slattted bed base made of natural beech wood. Such slats are highly elastic and supportive. They not only are natural and spring-less, but also are the best solution for a proper back support, as they can be set to your personal body shape and needs.
2. Michael N. Bates "Extremely Low Electromagnetic Fields and Cancer: The Epidemiologic Evidence" Environmental Health perspectives, vol. 95 p147-156, 1991
3. Mercola.com "Your Mattress Could Be Acting as a Cancer-Causing Radiation Antenna" August 18, 2010
4. Melody Chan Graves "Sleep Better without Metal", Published in the March 2010 issue of Conscious Design Magazine & republished in March 2013 in International Institute For Building-Biology® & Ecology