Rife Machines and Cancer

Medically Reviewed by Gabriela Pichardo, MD on June 12, 2022
3 min read

If you have cancer, you may be willing to try anything that you think could cure your disease. One treatment you may have heard of is a Rife machine. This device, invented nearly a century ago, emits low-energy electromagnetic waves. Some claim that the machine destroys cancer cells by tuning into the electrical impulses coming from the tumor.

The FDA has not approved the Rife machine for any use. There is no proof that the device can treat cancer or other diseases. What’s more, opting for alternative therapy with the Rife machine in lieu of regular cancer care may harm your health.

American scientist Royal Raymond Rife invented it in the 1920s. The machine produced very low energy waves, also known as radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. Rife based his ideas on the work of another scientist, Albert Abrams, who believed diseases gave off electromagnetic frequencies.

Rife thought bacteria were behind many diseases like cancer. He created a microscope to see them, and claimed his Rife Frequency Generator could spot and get rid of cancer by tuning into its electrical impulses. The American Medical Association condemned Rife's experiments.

That didn’t stop some marketers from promoting the machine starting during the 1990s. The American Cancer Society soon debunked their claims with a published study. The paper said that while sound waves can produce vibrations that break glass, the waves from a Rife generator were too weak to destroy bacteria.

Over the years, some owners of health clinics that promote Rife-like machines have been sued and convicted of fraud.

You use the device for a few minutes a day several times a week. You put electrical pads on your hands or feet. The pads are attached to a machine that delivers low energy electrical impulses. This is usually, but not always, done at a health clinic.

Cells have charged molecules that can respond to electrical fields from the outside. Researchers have studied pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy as a possible alternative to invasive tumor surgeries or chemotherapy that may not kill cancer cells that have spread.

One study found that they prevented some cancerous cells from growing without affecting normal cells. But this was done in a lab, and not on humans. Another review found that some types of electromagnetic waves can stop tumor growth. But these are different frequencies than a Rife machine.

Rife machines are generally thought to be safe, but we don’t know for sure. There have been some reports of electrical shocks and rashes.

Rife machines are expensive. They sell for as much as $6,000 on the internet. Treatment is not covered by insurance.

If you have cancer, follow your doctor’s advice on treatments. If you’re interested in complementary therapy, choose ones with proven benefits. Acupuncture, massage therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction and yoga may be helpful to treat symptoms related to cancer and side effects due to cancer treatments. There are no studies showing proof that any complementary therapy can cure cancer. Be sure that your doctor is aware of all the treatments you try.