A former US National Security Agency officer believes that a weaponized microwave attack caused the Parkinson’s disease that is now slowly killing him 10 years later.
Mike Beck was diagnosed with the degenerative neurological disorder in 2006, when he was only 46.
The exact cause of Parkinson’s remains largely a mystery to doctors, researchers and sufferers like Beck.
Little research has been conducted on the relationship between Parkinson’s and forms of radiation like microwaves, but experts say that they can’t be ruled out as contributing factors.
Retired NSA spy David Beck (pictured) suffers from debilitating Parkinson's disease that he believes was caused by a microwave attack over 20 years ago
Beck joined the NSA in 1987, and spent much of his career traveling to other countries – often in times of conflict – to protect information critical the security of the US.
In 1996, he and another agent, Charles Gubete, were assigned to do an assessment of security for a facility abroad.
The classified information in question prohibited Beck from disclosing any details about where he was, what the information was or any other identifying details of that mission.
But, he told the Washington Post that he and Gubete were detained for two hours leaving the country, and that a translator hinted that the two of them had been under surveillance.
After his diagnosis 10 years later, Beck gained access to a classified report that he believes describes the country’s use of a microwave attack against him and Gubete while they were in their adjacent hotel rooms.
Beck, who now lives in Columbia, Maryland, has filed a claim with the Department of Labor, claiming that his health was irreversibly damaged on the job.
Radiation describes the release of any energy, including low energy radio waves and microwaves. Microwaves are not as strongly linked to cancer as are higher frequency waves.
We know that brain cells deteriorate in people with Parkinson’s, but we do not know exactly why.
It is suspected that people are genetically by predisposed to the disease. However, Parkinson’s does not ‘run in the family’ the way that many diseases do. Beck told the Washington Post that no one in his family has, to his knowledge, had Parkinson’s.
Even so, one study has even shown that people are statistically less likely to develop Parkinson’s if they have a sibling with the disease.
Some studies show that there may be environmental triggers for the disorder, but the specifics of these, too, are unclear. The most well-documented risk factors are that it is more common as people get older, and more common among men.
Toxins like pesticides are thought to elevate risks as well, but few studies have examined the relationship between radiation and Parkinson’s.
One study done last year examined the potential effects of small amounts of radiowaves – like those produced by cell phones – on a possible underlying cause of Parkinson’s disease.
Beck hangs a commendation for his service on the wall of his home in Columbia, Maryland
The researchers posited that microwaves might encourage the formation of Lewy Bodies, clumps of proteins commonly observed in Parkinson’s patients.
But, ultimately they concluded that the form of radiation did not have any significant effect on Lewy Bodies, and, therefore Parkinson’s.
But, lead study author Dr David de Pomerai, a professor emeritus from the University of Nottingham, says that his ‘work doesn’t support [Beck's] claim – but we can’t rule it out either!’
‘In the absence of any details as to the power levels and operating frequency(ies) of the alleged microwave weapon, it is impossible to know whether there might be any selective effect’ on the development of Parkinson’s might have been, he says.
In spite of his own study results, Dr de Pomerai says ‘it is perfectly possible that stronger fields, at a different frequency - or multiple frequencies simultaneously - might well have some effect.
He says that the timeline of Beck’s Parkinson’s disease is also curious.
‘The kind of one-off exposure described would typically trigger an acute response (which might snowball and cause symptoms within a much shorter time-frame), whereas the slow emergence of symptoms sounds more typical of chronic exposure to low levels of toxic chemicals that can damage proteins’ and cause the Lewy Bodies associated with Parkinsons, says Dr de Pomerai.
In other words, the researcher would expect Beck’s Parkinson’s to set in fairly immediately after the purported microwave attack. But, he adds, ‘it is at least possible that some other factor may underlie the development of Parkinson's in this case.
‘The time-course of neurodegenerative responses - even to acute exposures - could still be very slow, and there's no strong evidence either way to prove or disprove the claims made,’ Dr de Pomerai says.
Daily Mail Online contacted the NSA and the Department of Labor, Beck's attorney and his physician. Beck's physician replied that he was unable to comment without Beck's explicit permission, and no other parties responded to requests for comment.