Heating Pads: Are They a Cancer Risk?

heating pads cancer risk

How many times have you reached for a heating back to relieve back pain or soothe an aching muscle? Although the heat from these devices may help to relieve the pain, they may not be the best choice in terms of health. There’s concern in the medical community about the overuse of these devices. Heating pads are thought to emit electromagnetic fields, high energy invisible waves that could damage cellular DNA and potentially increase the risk of cancer. Are heating pads safe or should you find an alternative?

It’s Not Just Heating Pads

The concern about the safety of heating pads extends to a variety of electrical appliances that could potentially generate electromagnetic fields including hair dryers, electric blankets, home tanning beds as well as other plug-in devices. All of these electrically powered items have been shown to generate EMF’s or electromagnetic fields. The concern is even greater with heating pads and electric blankets since they are placed into direct contact with the body. Not only is there a question as to whether heads pads are safe, the concern extends to all electrical devices that are placed next to the body where electromagnetic fields could be absorbed.

What Do The Studies Show?

Studies that have looked at the effects of EMF’s on human health have been mixed. A study conducted in the 1980’s showed an association between exposure to electromagnetic fields and the risk of leukemia in children, although studies since that time have failed to show a strong association between EMF’s and cancer in adults. The concern is that exposure may be cumulative and the risk of cancer could increase over the long term. Right now, it’s hard to say whether EMF’s emitted from heating pads and electric blankets poses a real hazard to health.

Should You Avoid Using Heating Pads and Electric Blankets?

Although no definite association between EMF’s and cancer has been proven, there are a variety of alternatives to the plug-in heating pad. Hot water bottles can provide warmth without the risk of EMF’s and, in most cases, moist heat is more effective for pain relief than dry heat anyway. There are also microwaveable heating pads that can be applied directly to sore muscles to relieve pain. With so much being unknown at this point about EMF’s and cancer, why take the chance with your health when you have viable alternatives (here you can check more of them)?

In addition to moderating the use of heating pads, it would be wise to hold hair dryers as far from your head as possible and avoid sitting too close to computer and television screens, both of which can be sources of EMF’s. Be smart. Don’t take a chance with your good health.


  1. World Health Organization (WHO) – Electromagnetic fields (EMF)
  2. American Cancer Society –
  3. The Field Updated Ed: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe by Lynne Mctaggart
  4. Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis by James L. Oschman
  5. The Body Electric: Electromagnetism And The Foundation Of Life by Robert Becker, Gary Selden

About the author


WarmAdvice is carried out by professionals in the field of physical therapy, rehabilitation medicine, therapeutic and relaxation massage. Most importantly it all comes out of a great passion for the subject.

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