American scientist Royal Raymond Rife invented the Rife machine. It produces an energy similar to radio waves.

Rife’s machine built on the work of Dr. Albert Abrams. Abrams believed every disease has its own electromagnetic frequency. He suggested doctors could kill diseased or cancerous cells by sending an electrical impulse identical to the cell’s unique electromagnetic frequency. This theory is sometimes called radionics.

Rife machines are Rife’s version of the machines used by Abrams. Some people claim they can help cure cancer and treat other conditions like Lyme disease and AIDS.

Radionics relies on the belief that elements in the body give off electrical impulses with different frequencies. These elements include:

  • viruses
  • bacteria
  • cancer cells

Rife believed bacteria or viruses inside tumors emitted specific electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs). He developed a microscope he claimed could detect EMFs from bacteria and viruses by the color of their auras.

In the 1930s, he developed another machine called the Rife Frequency Generator. He claimed it produced low-energy radio waves with the same frequency as cancer-causing microbes. He believed sending this frequency to the body would make cancer-causing microbes shatter and die. This frequency was called the mortal oscillatory rate.

At the time, few people believed his claims. And no studies proved his findings. But, in the 1980s, author Barry Lynes reignited interest in Rife machines. Lynes claimed the American Medical Association (AMA) and government agencies were covering up evidence about Rife machines.

Some people believed Lynes’ claim and continue to do so, even though researchers haven’t proven Rife’s theories.

In the 1920s, Scientific American magazine formed a committee to investigate Abrams’ claims about radionics. The committee found his conclusions were not substantiated. There also haven’t been any large, controlled clinical trials to evaluate Rife machines or similar devices.

Some people use Rife machines because they believe cancer is caused by bacteria and viruses. However, this is only part of the explanation for cancer causing agents.

In the 1990s, people began selling Rife machines as part of a multilevel marketing scheme. They used customer testimonials and anecdotal evidence to support claims about the machine. Rife machines haven’t gone through the same rigorous testing procedures other cancer treatments have. And there’s no research that suggests they work.

But, researchers recently started experimenting with radiofrequency EMFs to treat cancer. They’ve concluded low-frequency electromagnetic waves do affect tumors and don’t impact noncancerous cells. Research is still in the early stages. And there haven’t been any human studies. The studies also use different radiofrequencies than those generated by Rife machines.

Rife machines and similar devices likely don’t pose any major health risks. This is because the energy waves they use have a very low frequency. The frequency is lower than that of waves emitted by cell phones. But, Cancer Research UK notes there have been accounts of shocks and skin rashes associated with Rife machines.

The biggest risk involved with Rife machines and other alternative treatments, like hydrogen peroxide, comes from delaying more effective medical treatments like chemotherapy. In 1997, a man died four months after he started using a Rife machine instead of chemotherapy to treat his cancer. In 2004, a 32-year-old man died from testicular cancer after he refused surgery in favor of using a Rife machine. The owners of the health clinic that sold him the device were sentenced in Federal court for fraud.

Rife machines are also very expensive. They often sell for thousands of dollars on the internet.

The side effects of traditional cancer treatments can significantly affect quality of life. This leads many people with cancer to seek alternative treatments. But, most of these treatments haven’t been studied.

There’s no evidence Rife machines are effective in treating cancer. But, there are alternative treatments for cancer that may effectively treat unwanted side effects and symptoms. Studies show meditation and acupuncture help with symptoms of cancer and medical cancer treatments.