While the first day of winter isn’t until December 21, cold weather has fully settled in. We don’t blame you if it makes you reach for something a little extra snuggly, like a heated blanket. But are heated blankets dangerous? The inner layers contain electrical heating wires to give it even warmth, and many people worry that these wires emit radiation or create toxic chemicals. However, our expert, Dr. Heather Moday, says not to worry. Find out what she has to say on the subject below.
Meet our expert.
Heather Moday, MD, is director of the Moday Center in Philadelphia. She is board-certified in allergy and immunology, as well as integrative and holistic medicine. You can follow her on Instagram (@theimmunitymd), where she shares information on health topics. And to ask her a question here, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weighted Blankets and Breast Cancer
Q: I love using a heated blanket on cold nights, but a friend recently told me they can cause breast cancer. Is that true?
A: No. Electric blankets and other electronics, like microwaves and cellphones, produce electromagnetic fields (EMFs). These electric waves produce non-ionizing radiation, a weak type of radiation that hasn’t been shown to trigger the DNA damage that causes breast cancer. In fact, researchers at Yale and Columbia University conducted studies with more than 5,000 participants and found no link between the use of electric blankets and an increase in breast cancer risk.
While the claims that heated blankets cause breast cancer have been disproved, I don’t advise using them every day. That’s because consistent exposure to EMFs can cause oxidative stress on cells that triggers symptoms like fatigue and brain fog. And when you do use the blanket, try to eat more spinach, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. These foods are rich in antioxidants and vitamins A and C, all of which have been shown to reduce the damage caused by cellular stress. I also recommend using a low-voltage blanket that emits fewer EMFs, like Costway Electric Heated Blanket Low-Voltage (Buy from Target, $49.99).
You may also want to consider switching to a weighted blanket. Not only will it keep you warm, it will help you sleep better, say researchers in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. In the study, participants were 20 times more likely to sleep soundly through the night when they used a weighted blanket. The reason? The pressure the blanket places on the body calms the central nervous system to reduce stress for a more restful night’s sleep.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.