For a number of years, people have heard reports of electric blankets causing cancer. Some people dismiss this as nothing more than an urban legend, while others insist there is a scientific basis for the idea. In fact, there has been a great deal of study into the relationship between electric blankets and cancer. Unfortunately, there is no consensus on whether there is really a connection, or if the whole idea is simply a myth.
The discussion about electric blanket use and cancer risks usually revolves around the issue of electromagnetic fields that emanate from various types of wiring. In theory, the wiring in an electric blanket would emit a field as readily as the wiring found in the home or the power lines that supply electricity to residences and other buildings. If this is true, then continued exposure to the field via the regular use of an electric blanket could help to trigger a number of ailments, including the development of cancer.
What is often at issue is whether or not an electric blanket has an electromagnetic field strong enough to trigger the growth of cancer cells in the body. People who do not believe that blankets pose a serious threat point out that all sorts of items generate fields of their own, including televisions, computers, and various types of kitchen appliances, which emit a field far stronger than an electric blanket.
Proponents of the connection point out that it is sometimes a matter of proximity for extended periods, rather than the strength of the field. Wiring in the home is generally located inside walls, so there is a barrier between individuals and the origin of the field. People tend to not operate kitchen appliances and remain in their presence for hours on end. People do spend six to eight hours at a time under an electric blanket, however, with little more separation than a simple bed sheet.
While it would seem that scientific studies would confirm or debunk any connection between electric blankets and cancer, there have been no definitive conclusions. The results of some studies indicate that women who frequently use electric blankets are at a greater risk of developing breast cancer. A few studies indicate that men sleeping under an electric blanket may be at a greater risk for testicular cancer.
At the same time, other studies find no difference between test subjects who use the blankets and those who don’t. Evaluations of these different studies by government health agencies do little to bring clarity to the matter. Some agencies find there is a connection, while others see no appreciable risk at all.
In the final analysis, the best option is to make your own decision about electric blanket warnings and determine how you will respond. If you feel there is some legitimacy to the concept of a fact based electric blanket cancer fear, remove the devices from your home and use other methods to keep warm at night. On the other hand, if you feel the purported connection has no basis, you may choose to continue using your blanket on cold nights. Until irrefutable evidence is produced, the best anyone can do is weigh the options for themselves and make a personal decision.