→ Dr. Fiorella Belpoggi, Director of Research at the Ramazzini Institute, Italy: A case for caution

Alexia Barakou

When she addresses issues of human exposure to toxicity, she speaks with authority. Her research interests stretch far and wide, including gamma radiation, electromagnetic fields from power lines and radio base stations, as well as food additives, plastics, pesticides, hormones, vitamins, fuel constituents, and asbestos and its substitutes.

Under her leadership, in 2005 the Ramazzini Institute launched a ten-year research programme on the effects of electromagnetic field contamination on rats. “We are interested in those issues that most concern the population. In the past we have studied plastics. We use animals, but we do not sacrifice them, we have never had criticism from animal rights associations,” says Dr. Belpoggi.

Fiorella Belpoggi addresses in detail the study’s findings in her interview with Investigate Europe. She is convinced of the potential dangers of 5G. “With 5G, our environment and our society, [including] certain effects on health, will change. And all that, without even opening a debate,” she says.

Investigate Europe: “What was the experiment you did?”

Dr. Fiorella Belpoggi: “We followed a population of laboratory rats (2,800), from when females were pregnant until the spontaneous death of their young, for a duration of ten years. This population was exposed during all its life to 19 hours of radiation a day, five hours were used for cleaning, visits, food.

“There has been an increase in diseases, both heart tumours, very rare “schwannomas” of the heart, and brain tumours.”

The study had at its disposal €3.5 million and 18 researchers. Latterly, she says, the United States’ National Toxicology Program (NTP) was running another study with $30 million (€27.4 million) and 4,000 researchers. They both came out with very similar findings: tumours in male rats.

Investigate Europe, “Why tumours only in male rats?”

Fiorella Belpoggi, “There are also [tumours] in females, but they have not been significant. Even in the study on benzene the tumours were more in males than in females. We know that the gender modulates behaviours differently.”

Investigate Europe, “Why, if there is a danger of cancer, the statistics of brain tumours do not increase?”

Dr Fiorella Belpoggi, “We found an increase in tumours at a statistically significant” level, which did not occur in non-radiated rats [also under examination in the study]. But what is the importance of the numbers on a global level if I have a brain tumour and if the link between electromagnetic waves and cancer has been scientifically proven?”

So, what can be extrapolated about the risk faced by humans?

Fiorella Belpoggi, “The risk is low. We are NOT faced with vinyl chloride, formaldehyde. We are not dealing with strong carcinogens. But we must think that instead of having 2,800 animals, but two million and 800, even brain tumours could be “statistically significantly” higher.

“We have six billion people exposed. […] If the link between radio frequencies and cancer is scientifically proven, how important is the number of cancers it produces? This link from the NTP and our study was detected, albeit at a much lower level in our study”.

Unfortunately, she says, it’s having little purchase with the oversight and guidance bodies, crucial among them the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

Fiorella Belpoggi: “What is happening now is that an unsuitable body, the ICNIRP, composed of engineers not scientific researchers, is giving conclusions on 5G. Instead, the only one to have competence is the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

“It is fundamental that the IARC revises its position on electromagnetic waves going from a “possible danger” of cancer to a “probable danger” of cancer. Until then, there are only opinions around us. […] The IARC must decide whether to include this issue among its priorities. It’s the only body really competent.”

Dr. Belpoggi points to another area of concern already addressed in studies, calcium.

Dr. Fiorella Belpoggi: “There are many studies on the alteration of calcium following exposure to radio frequencies. Calcium is essential for the transmission of nerve stimuli. Calcium metabolism is altered in the presence of electromagnetic waves. We have seen a strong and “statistically revealing” increase in hyperplasia in the brain, which is the pre-tumour stage […]. Over time they would develop into tumours.”

Belpoggi concludes by insisting 5G goes beyond a mere evolution of existing technology, changing entirely the rubric of cellular wireless.

Fiorella Belpoggi: “The difference lies in the fact that it will change and intensify the disbursement both in terms of intensity and coverage of the airspace, both on land and with satellites, and that there will be no point on the globe without coverage.

“Although millimetre waves have not been studied as such for long-term effects, the fact that they are similar to those of which we know the danger makes us worry even more. Nobody wonders if we really need all this internet of things.”


In April 2020, prof Fiorella Belpoggi sent IE the following statement after ICNIRP new guidelines, published in March 2020:

“About the new ICNIRP guidelines, how this can reassure about 5G I don’t know, since there are no studies, and the few that are there are certainly not suitable for a risk assessment. The correct interpretation should have been to say that there is not enough data to be able to express an opinion on these frequencies, neither positive nor negative. The only studies that have been done in vivo on animals or people, regarding these frequencies, which mainly concern radio operators in the war period, or in any case in working exhibition situations, are not definitive, do not have a biostatistical value that can guide us on a definite danger. They are cohorts that are not selected in a manner deemed adequate by the scientific world in order to express a scientific judgment. Lack of data does not mean lack of danger. It is not clear why they take a reassuring and non-precautionary position”.