Another Reason to Hate CFLs

CFLThey’re ugly and expensive and they contain mercury. Just a few of the reasons why it’s okay to hate CFLs.

But all understandable reasons. Now we’re hearing that these bulbs can exacerbate diabetes.

Say what?

No, really -- there is a study. An actual, double-blind study by Magda Havas of Trent University in Ontario found that exposure to “dirty electricity” put out by the bulbs could be causing an elevation in blood glucose levels in diabetics and pre-diabetics.


Dirty electricity has been the subject of debate for years -- you might know it better as EMF. And it’s been Havas’s specialty. In fact, she’s become the foremost expert on the subject, at least for the media.

Her study states that by “following plasma glucose levels in four Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics, we find that they responded directly to the amount of dirty electricity in their environment.” She goes on to say that in environments free of EMF, Type 1 diabetics need less insulin and Type 2s have lower blood glucose levels.

The Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) picked up the story, which quickly made its way to Facebook with the headline “Energy Efficient light bulbs are killing us!” 

Now, diabetics all over the world are running around their houses ripping out CFLs, despite the fact that her study explicitly states that all sources of dirty electricity are the problem, including (but not only) CFLs. That means you’d have to get rid of pretty much anything electric in order to prevent exposure inside your home -- and don’t even think about those power lines outside!

Now, even I, who loves just about any reason to hate on CFLs, am questioning all of this. In looking a little further, it seems that some people have issue with Dr. Havas. Science Based Medicine goes so far as to call her a “lone crank” and says that Havas has published very little real research to back up her study. That study that’s freaking everyone out? Turns out she studied four people. Four. Then she estimated that based on these four people, 60 million diabetics “could” be affected.

That sounds like some of that good ol’ fuzzy math to me.

So for now, CFLS, I’ll grant you a reprieve. But I’ve got my eye on you.


Image via Nestor Galina/Flickr

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