S. M. J. Mortazavi1, S Vazife-Doost2, M Yaghooti3, S Mehdizadeh4, A Rajaie-Far5
1Medical Physics & Medical Engineering Department; The Center for Research on Radiological Sciences, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.
2Department of Surgery, School of Dentistry, Rafsanjan University of Medical Sciences, Rafsanjan, Iran.
3Department of Endodontics, School of Dentistry, Rafsanjan University of Medical Sciences, Rafsanjan, Iran.
4Department of Nuclear Engineering, School of Engineering, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran.
5Department of Statistics, School of Hygine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.
Objectives: Some studies indicate that dentistry is one of the job categories with high potential exposure to elevated levels of extremely low frequency magnetic fields. In spite of this, information on occupational exposure of dentists to these fields is scarce. Studies on other common sources of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) such as mobile base stations have shown alterations in the cortisol level following exposure of humans to these sources. The aim of this study is to compare the level of cortisol among dentists and dentistry students who are being occupationally exposed to EMFs emitted by magnetostrictive cavitrons (case group) and among their counterparts who are not being exposed to these fields (control group). Materials and Methods: In this case-control study, blood samples were collected from 41 dentists and dentistry students, 21 of whom were exposed to EMFs emitted by cavitrons as the case group and 20 who were not exposed as the control group, twice; i.e. before work (at 8:30-9:30 a.m.) and after work (11:30-12:30 a.m.). The samples were coded and the serum cortisol level was investigated using the ELISA method (Cortisol AccuBind ELISA Kits). Results: The serum cortisol level of dentists and dental students in the morning (before starting the work) in the control group was 189.15 ± 110.70 (mean ± SD) whereas it was 157.77 ± 112.03 in those who were occupationally exposed to EMFs produced by the use of cavitrons. This difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.373). In contrast, the serum cortisol level of the participants in the noon (after stopping the work) in the control group was 136.25 ± 67.91 (mean ± SD) while it was 88.58 ± 52.83 in those who were occupationally exposed to EMFs produced by the use of cavitrons. This time, the observed difference was statistically significant (P = 0.016). In this light, while the difference between serum cortisol levels of dentists and dental students in the morning and after stopping the work was not statistically significant (P = 0.06), in the EMF-exposed group the cortisol level decreased significantly from 157.77 ± 112.03 in the morning to 88.58 ± 52.83 in the noon (P = 0.001). Conclusions : As far as we know, this is the first study that evaluated the effect of occupational exposure of dentists to EMFs on their serum cortisol level. The EMFs produced by magnetostrictive cavitrons can decrease the serum cortisol level in dentists. As cortisol plays an important role in blood pressure regulation, cardiovascular, and immune system function, a low cortisol level may threaten health. More studies are needed to clearly understand the effects of EMFs emitted by magnetostrictive cavitron on the level of stress hormones. As some studies have shown that exposure to EMFs has no effect on the cortisol level, whereas other studies reported either an increase or a decrease in the cortisol level, it can be concluded that the effects of exposure to EMFs may occur only at specific absorbed energies or energy absorption rates (usually known as window) similar to that exists in the case of exposure to the low doses of ionizing radiations.
Keywords: Cortisol, cavitrons, dentists, dentistry nurses, electromagnetic fields.