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Modern blood vessel measurements test belief that magnetic fields can influence blood flow

San Diego, CA April 9, 2003 -- Some 2,000 years, the Chinese first advocated the use of magnetic therapy. In the Middle Ages, Paracelsus (1493-1543), a physician and alchemist, came to the conclusion that since magnets have the power to attract iron, perhaps they can also attract diseases and leach them from the body.

Even in the 21st century, the magnetic therapy industry generates approximately $500 million in income, in part, as a result of aggressive marketing strategies that use professional athletes to promote the healing effects of magnetic therapy products. Supporters of this alternative medicine cite anecdotal evidence that this treatment is effective; however, scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of magnetic therapy is somewhat lacking.

There is, however, growing evidence that magnetic field therapy can influence physiological processes such as bone formation, action potential generation, edema formation, and tumor apoptosis. Studies have also suggested that magnetic field application can influence cutaneous circulation and blood pressure in rats, but little information is available regarding the impact of magnetic fields on microvascular blood flow in general, and resistance arterioles in skeletal muscle in particular. Changes in microvascular tone have been implicated as net effects of magnetic field application and although study models have included in vitro, in vivo and clinical trials, no direct measurement of blood vessel diameter in skeletal muscle in vivo has been completed to date.

A New Study

Researchers from the University of Virginia set out to demonstrate the effects, if any, of a static magnetic field exposure on microvascular tone in skeletal muscle in vivo via direct measurement of microvascular diameters. The authors of "Magnet Therapy The Power to Heal" are Thomas Skalak, PhD, and Cassandra Morris, both from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia,
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Contact: Donna Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
703-967-2751
American Physiological Society
9-Apr-2003


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