Blaylock: Face Masks Pose Serious Risks To The Healthy

Blaylock: Face Masks Pose Serious Risks To The Healthy

With the advent of the so-called COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a number of medical practices that have little or no scientific support as regards reducing the spread of this infection. One of these measures is the wearing of facial masks, either a surgical-type mask, bandana or N95 respirator mask.

When this pandemic began and we knew little about the virus itself or its epidemiologic behavior, it was assumed that it would behave, in terms of spread among communities, like other respiratory viruses. Little has presented itself after intense study of this virus and its behavior to change this perception.

This is somewhat of an unusual virus in that for the vast majority of people infected by the virus, one experiences either no illness (asymptomatic) or very little sickness. Only a very small number of people are at risk of a potentially serious outcome from the infection—mainly those with underlying serious medical conditions in conjunction with advanced age and frailty, those with immune compromising conditions and nursing home patients near the end of their lives. There is growing evidence that the treatment protocol issued to treating doctors by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mainly intubation and use of a ventilator (respirator), may have contributed significantly to the high death rate in these select individuals.

By wearing a mask, the exhaled viruses will not be able to escape and will concentrate in the nasal passages, enter the olfactory nerves and travel into the brain.
Russell Blaylock, MD

As for the scientific support for the use of face mask, a recent careful examination of the literature, in which 17 of the best studies were analyzed, concluded that, “ None of the studies established a conclusive relationship between mask/respirator use and protection against influenza infection.”1   Keep in mind, no studies have been done to demonstrate that either a cloth mask or the N95 mask has any effect on transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Any recommendations, therefore, have to be based on studies of influenza virus transmission. And, as you have seen, there is no conclusive evidence of their efficiency in controlling flu virus transmission.

It is also instructive to know that until recently, the CDC did not recommend wearing a face mask or covering of any kind, unless a person was known to be infected, that is, until recently. Non-infected people need not wear a mask. When a person has TB we have them wear a mask, not the entire community of non-infected. The recommendations by the CDC and the WHO are not based on any studies of this virus and have never been used to contain any other virus pandemic or epidemic in history.

Now that we have established that there is no scientific evidence necessitating the wearing of a face mask for prevention, are there dangers to wearing a face mask, especially for long periods? Several studies have indeed found significant problems with wearing such a mask. This can vary from headaches, to increased airway resistance, carbon dioxide accumulation, to hypoxia, all the way to serious life-threatening complications.

There is a difference between the N95 respirator mask and the surgical mask (cloth or paper mask) in terms of side effects. The N95 mask, which filters out 95% of particles with a median diameter >0.3 µm2 , because it impairs respiratory exchange (breathing) to a greater degree than a soft mask, and is more often associated with headaches. In one such study, researchers surveyed 212 healthcare workers (47 males and 165 females) asking about presence of headaches with N95 mask use, duration of the headaches, type of headaches and if the person had preexisting headaches.2

They found that about a third of the workers developed headaches with use of the mask, most had preexisting headaches that were worsened by the mask wearing, and 60% required pain medications for relief. As to the cause of the headaches, while straps and pressure from the mask could be causative, the bulk of the evidence points toward hypoxia and/or hypercapnia as the cause. That is, a reduction in blood oxygenation (hypoxia) or an elevation in blood C02 (hypercapnia). It is known that the N95 mask, if worn for hours, can reduce blood oxygenation as much as 20%, which can lead to a loss of consciousness, as happened to the hapless fellow driving around alone in his car wearing an N95 mask, causing him to pass out, and to crash his car and sustain injuries. I am sure that we have several cases of elderly individuals or any person with poor lung function passing out, hitting their head. This, of course, can lead to death.

A more recent study involving 159 healthcare workers aged 21 to 35 years of age found that 81% developed headaches from wearing a face mask.3   Some had pre-existing headaches that were precipitated by the masks. All felt like the headaches affected their work performance.

Unfortunately, no one is telling the frail elderly and those with lung diseases, such as COPD, emphysema or pulmonary fibrosis, of these dangers when wearing a facial mask of any kind—which can cause a severe worsening of lung function. This also includes lung cancer patients and people having had lung surgery, especially with partial resection or even the removal of a whole lung.

While most agree that the N95 mask can cause significant hypoxia and hypercapnia, another study of surgical masks found significant reductions in blood oxygen as well. In this study, researchers examined the blood oxygen levels in 53 surgeons using an oximeter. They measured blood oxygenation before surgery as well as at the end of surgeries.4 The researchers found that the mask reduced the blood oxygen levels (pa02) significantly. The longer the duration of wearing the mask, the greater the fall in blood oxygen levels.

The importance of these findings is that a drop in oxygen levels (hypoxia) is associated with an impairment in immunity. Studies have shown that hypoxia can inhibit the type of main immune cells used to fight viral infections called the CD4+ T-lymphocyte. This occurs because the hypoxia increases the level of a compound called hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), which inhibits T-lymphocytes and stimulates a powerful immune inhibitor cell called the Tregs. . This sets the stage for contracting any infection, including COVID-19 and making the consequences of that infection much graver. In essence, your mask may very well put you at an increased risk of infections and if so, having a much worse outcome.5,6,7

People with cancer, especially if the cancer has spread, will be at a further risk from prolonged hypoxia as the cancer grows best in a microenvironment that is low in oxygen. Low oxygen also promotes inflammation which can promote the growth, invasion and spread of cancers.8,9  Repeated episodes of hypoxia has been proposed as a significant factor in atherosclerosis and hence increases all cardiovascular (heart attacks) and cerebrovascular (strokes) diseases.10

There is another danger to wearing these masks on a daily basis, especially if worn for several hours. When a person is infected with a respiratory virus, they will expel some of the virus with each breath. If they are wearing a mask, especially an N95 mask or other tightly fitting mask, they will be constantly rebreathing the viruses, raising the concentration of the virus in the lungs and the nasal passages. We know that people who have the worst reactions to the coronavirus have the highest concentrations of the virus early on. And this leads to the deadly cytokine storm in a selected number.

It gets even more frightening. Newer evidence suggests that in some cases the virus can enter the brain.11,12 In most instances it enters the brain by way of the olfactory nerves (smell nerves), which connect directly with the area of the brain dealing with recent memory and memory consolidation. By wearing a mask, the exhaled viruses will not be able to escape and will concentrate in the nasal passages, enter the olfactory nerves and travel into the brain.13

It is evident from this review that there is insufficient evidence that wearing a mask of any kind can have a significant impact in preventing the spread of this virus. The fact that this virus is a relatively benign infection for the vast majority of the population and that most of the at-risk group also survive, from an infectious disease and epidemiological standpoint, by letting the virus spread through the healthier population we will reach a herd immunity level rather quickly that will end this pandemic quickly and prevent a return next winter. During this time, we need to protect the at-risk population by avoiding close contact, boosting their immunity with compounds that boost cellular immunity and in general, care for them.

One should not attack and insult those who have chosen not to wear a mask, as these studies suggest that is the wise choice to make.


  1. bin-Reza F et al. The use of mask and respirators to prevent transmission of influenza: A systematic review of the scientific evidence. Resp Viruses 2012;6(4):257-67.
  2. Zhu JH et al. Effects of long-duration wearing of N95 respirator and surgical facemask: a pilot study. J Lung Pulm Resp Res 2014:4:97-100.
  3. Ong JJY et al. Headaches associated with personal protective equipment- A cross-sectional study among frontline healthcare workers during COVID-19. Headache 2020;60(5):864-877.
  4. Bader A et al. Preliminary report on surgical mask induced deoxygenation during major surgery. Neurocirugia 2008;19:12-126.
  5. Shehade H et al. Cutting edge: Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 negatively regulates Th1 function. J Immunol 2015;195:1372-1376.
  6. Westendorf AM et al. Hypoxia enhances immunosuppression by inhibiting CD4+ effector T cell function and promoting Treg activity. Cell Physiol Biochem 2017;41:1271-84.
  7. Sceneay J et al. Hypoxia-driven immunosuppression contributes to the pre-metastatic niche. Oncoimmunology 2013;2:1 e22355.
  8. Blaylock RL. Immunoexcitatory mechanisms in glioma proliferation, invasion and occasional metastasis. Surg Neurol Inter 2013;4:15.
  9. Aggarwal BB. Nucler factor-kappaB: The enemy within. Cancer Cell 2004;6:203-208.
  10. Savransky V et al. Chronic intermittent hypoxia induces atherosclerosis. Am J Resp Crit Care Med 2007;175:1290-1297.
  11. Baig AM et al. Evidence of the COVID-19 virus targeting the CNS: Tissue distribution, host-virus interaction, and proposed neurotropic mechanisms. ACS Chem Neurosci 2020;11:7:995-998.
  12. Wu Y et al. Nervous system involvement after infection with COVID-19 and other coronaviruses. Brain Behavior, and Immunity, In press.
  13. Perlman S et al. Spread of a neurotropic murine coronavirus into the CNS via the trigeminal and olfactory nerves. Virology 1989;170:556-560.

Dr. Russell Blaylock, author of The Blaylock Wellness Report newsletter, is a nationally recognized board-certified neurosurgeon, health practitioner, author, and lecturer. He attended the Louisiana State University School of Medicine and completed his internship and neurological residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. For 26 years, practiced neurosurgery in addition to having a nutritional practice. He recently retired from his neurosurgical duties to devote his full attention to nutritional research. Dr. Blaylock has authored four books, Excitotoxins: The Taste That KillsHealth and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your LifeNatural Strategies for Cancer Patients, and his most recent work, Cellular and Molecular Biology of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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  • Brian Farmer
    commented 2020-07-31 06:27:02 -0700
    If masks don’t work, then why do surgeons wear them in operating rooms?
  • Gavin Ziegler
    commented 2020-07-16 07:53:39 -0700
    Wearing a mask deprives your body from getting enough oxygen! Here’s proof:
    Jul 12, 2020
    Dana Ashlie
  • Thomas Frank
    commented 2020-06-30 10:33:32 -0700
    My family was in Tokyo just before the covid took off. We thought we would feel out of place because we were Americans but soon found out it was because we were about the only ones not wearing face masks.Ponder this. Japan has 127 million people and my state of Washington has 7 million but the death totals are the same.
  • David Pandone
    commented 2020-06-30 08:36:42 -0700
    Thank you for referencing your statements to published and accepted studies. Perhaps a tool to help us fight the edicts and unfounded commands of the tyrannical is a brief point by point that can be printed and posted at entrances to public places with a reference “more complete information with research references is available on our website at ‘’” I have one friend who operates a gym weathering such a storm at present. I’m certain restaurants and stores run by the more informed and freedom respecting would benefit as well.
  • Gayle Force
    commented 2020-06-15 03:21:16 -0700
    Thank you for your interesting piece. Using a mask while shopping, which takes around two hours when doing two shops(mine and my elderly mothers) I thought it was my imagination that each week I got a sore throat after the shop.
  • Samuel Wilson
    commented 2020-05-27 18:02:27 -0700
    I feel that the author of this article, a retired physician, has deliberately chosen a deceptive title. Perhaps a more appropriate title would be: Face Masks COULD POSSIBLY Pose Serious Risks to the Healthy THAT DO NOT FOLLOW RECOMMENDATIONS.

    Dr. Blaylock attempts portray all masks as a safety risk based upon some evidence that N95 masks restrict airflow, possibly resulting in headaches or syncope. However, it is important to note that not a single agency is recommending the universal use of N95 masks. These are intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare settings. As a physician myself, it has been my experience that healthcare workers typically only wear these masks during interactions that pose a possible exposure risk.

    It is true that the efficacy of facemasks in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 is still debated, but it is widely believed by experts that cloth masks do somewhat decrease the rate at which infected people transmit the virus. A simple way of understanding the common-sense logic behind this theory is to think of a time that you have felt small droplets land on your skin after someone has coughed in your direction. These droplets are what carry the virus. Moreover, cloth-masks have the additional benefits of preventing face touching and promoting social distancing, which both unquestionably help prevent the spread of the virus.

    I find it interesting that Dr. Blaylock has chosen to attack the practice of wearing masks in an attempt to prevent the spread COVID-19 due to a lack of conclusive evidence regarding their effectiveness, while simultaneously presenting another argument based on very little evidence at all. In the article, Dr. Blaylock proposes that “By wearing a mask, the exhaled viruses will not be able to escape and will concentrate in the nasal passages, enter the olfactory nerves and travel into the brain.13” Although this is a documented pathway for viral spread, the author bases his claim on scant evidence including a few relatively weak investigations of non-SARS-CoV-2 strains of the coronavirus, an inconclusive study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and a 1989 study the mouse hepatitis virus strain JHM (MHV-JHM). None of the sources investigate the potential for autoinfection resulting from the concentration of exhaled coronavirus in the nasal passages.

    A possible disturbing flaw in Dr. Blaylock’s logic is his belief that a mask is capable of containing the virus in the nasal passages but not capable of preventing its spread in the air. Regardless, if there is any possibility someone is sheading the virus, it is my hope that they feel some sort of societal obligation to prevent the spread of the disease in order to protect the most vulnerable among us.

    The implementation of interventions to slow the spread of the disease have been effective. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these measures has made it easy for people to doubt the legitimacy of the COVID-19 threat. In the face of all the conspiracies floating around, I think it is prudent to remember that in 1918-1919, St. Louis placed a 2 month ban on visiting public places and multiple cities required facemasks by law. Then, things returned to normal.
  • Thomas Frank
    commented 2020-05-27 17:22:28 -0700
    I dont think Dr Blaylock has been i n Tokyo. My family and I were there in late Jan..We felt out of place not because we were Americans but because we were the only ones not wearing face masks. This was before Covid 19 (a few days before it hit Japan. Look at Japans covid stats. Tokyo is the largest city in the world. If you dont think Covid 19 is contagious Google"fox news diamond princess"
  • Vicki Keller
    commented 2020-05-24 18:48:19 -0700
    Where has Dr. Blaylock been? I have missed hearing his voice of reason and wisdom.
  • Tina Maynard
    commented 2020-05-20 16:21:15 -0700
    I wish I was able to share this does anyone know how?
  • Amanda Raber
    commented 2020-05-20 02:30:01 -0700
    Some cloth masks have copper and silver in them. Virus are unable to survive on copper, so I’m curious about those masks and whether they reduce viral load.
  • Carl Little
    commented 2020-05-18 16:50:56 -0700
    This guy makes no sense. He states that wearing a mask causes the virus to circulate and go into the brain. Except in order to have that happen one has to have the virus in which case he states you should wear a mask. SMH.
  • Barb Rylander
    commented 2020-05-18 13:14:42 -0700
    And again, Dr. Blaylock is a brain surgeon, so he has spent much of his life in the operating room, gowned and masked. His information should be appreciated and used to make decisions in your particular situation. If you think you are smarter than him, yeah, no, you are not the brightest crayon in the box.
  • Cræzy Bîtch
    commented 2020-05-18 11:44:18 -0700
    Conversely, I don’t think that those who choose to wear the mask or are required to do so by their employer should be attacked for doing so either. As someone who has had losses to the Coronavirus, I would rather wear it and protect myself from possible exposure. As you stated some people have it bit are asymptomatic so they are posing without knowing they are doing so. We should all wear a mask in any instance where it will not be possible to remain 6ft apart such as the grocery store for literally the same reason you would if you have TB.
  • Donna Newmeyer
    commented 2020-05-16 17:17:22 -0700
    This doctor is finally telling the truth. Unless you have underlying illness have to do islearn to deep breathe using you diaphragm. 3 ct breaths inthen purse your lips &blow out 5-7 counts. Do that & thentry to cough hard on the last if it causes coughing fit get doc if it doesnt you dont have c19. You have to do this like singers, brass & wind instruments if band director know his stuff
  • Barb Rylander
    commented 2020-05-16 08:43:19 -0700
    I have two of Dr. Blaylock’s books, have heard him speak and met him personally, am familiar with his stellar credentials (only the very, very top of the line people who go into medicine can even be allowed to become surgeons but neurosurgeons are way up there on the skill and brilliant end of that field) He is the real deal, a scientist, researcher, author…..I take all that he says very seriously. And if you do not, that is your loss. In 2001 I had the great privilege of consulting with him by phone in regards to nutritional healing for my daughter, from epilepsy. The remarkable advice I received from him kept her from receiving drugs with deadly side effects, led me to the nutritional support to balance out the drug she was prescribed, and pulled our entire family into a much higher level of health. Thank you Dr. Blaylock! Gwennie from Chicago is doing very well!
  • John Davis
    commented 2020-05-16 07:15:30 -0700
    Peter Szabo – Please direct me to the portion of the article where Dr. Blaylock mentions the studies showing the effectiveness of mask use at reducing the transmission of SARS.

    Since you can’t, because it’s not there, allow me to quote from the very paper that Dr. Blaylock cites: ’Eight of nine retrospective observational studies found that mask and/or respirator use was independently associated with a reduced risk of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)."

    Does it really seem like a good faith argument to ignore the evidence from SARS studies and insist that we should use influenza studies instead?
  • Larry Mallette, MD, PhD
    commented 2020-05-16 05:40:34 -0700
    Mr. Szabo: Please provide a reference to support your assertion that there have been “thousands of deaths by persons using masks and the majority who do not wear masks don’t even have symptoms?” There are to my knowledge no published randomized studies of the effect of mask wearing on the acquisition of infection with SARS-CoV-2.
    In the absence of prospective randomized studies, we have to go with the best evidence we have, which is weak – mostly comparing how well the pandemic is controlled in countries where mask wearing is considered a patriotic thing to do versus other countries.
    I repeat my challenge to Dr. Blaylock to provide prospective data to support his assertion, because it goes AGAINST what we know about most other respiratory viruses. So far as I can tell it is only a guess on his part.
  • Peter Szabo
    commented 2020-05-16 01:55:50 -0700
    Larry Mallette, MD, PhD – Then how do you explain the thousands of deaths by persons using masks and the majority who do not wear masks don’t even have symptoms? Also do you have any published evidence supporting your hypothesis? No? I thought so. Common response from someone who does not want to admit that maybe the CDC propaganda outdated medical training is possibly wrong?
  • Peter Szabo
    commented 2020-05-16 01:48:34 -0700
    John Davis – typical reply from a closed minded person. Of course he read the SARS report idiot? He stated so in his article along with the reasons why he felt masks were not warranted in this situation. You on the other hand do not even bother to list the anything that proves the contrary opinion but instead prefer to slander..
  • John Davis
    commented 2020-05-14 15:59:12 -0700
    Did you bother to read the study you claim establishes that masks are ineffective? Rather than using influenza (an AIRBORNE illness) studies to establish the effectiveness of mask use, how about using SARS? The very paper you cite references a SARS study indicating that mask use IS effective at reducing transmission.
  • Judy Morton
    commented 2020-05-14 09:48:58 -0700
    Great article.
  • Gloris Castles
    commented 2020-05-13 22:13:32 -0700
    I’ve been trying to tell/explain to people re: the workings of respiration and why masks inhibit good health. Thanks soooo much for stating/explaining facts!!
  • Larry Mallette, MD, PhD
    commented 2020-05-13 12:59:14 -0700
    Most respiratory viruses replicate much faster at room temperature than at 98.6° F. The mask, by keeping the nasal passages warm and moist, will greatly slow the replication of the virus, giving the person’s immune system more time to trigger antibody production.. There is no reason to suspect that the SARS-CoV-2 virus would be any different. So, if Dr. Blaylock has experimental data to show that infective virus counts in the nasal passages go up more quickly during mask wearing, I would urge him present it here and submit it for publication. Otherwise the hypothesis remains speculation.
  • Allan F. Oblander
    commented 2020-05-13 07:47:02 -0700
    Does Trump ever read this stuff? “Dr.” Fauci is making sure the communist virus comes back strong in the fall. Normally at this time of year, we would have herd immunity. I’m at the top of the list for being in danger. If the virus goes away, “Dr.” Fauci stops getting millions of dollars from the pharmaceutical companies. Follow the money…
  • Robert Demarest
    commented 2020-05-13 05:48:28 -0700
    I have asthma ,and emphsma and where i live in phoenix az they not only demad wearing mask but we are in lock down in our apartments i personaly got yelled at by security officer for walking my dog
  • james sherman
    commented 2020-05-12 11:13:37 -0700
    Very good article as it indicates the level of incompetence at the institutions such as NIAID, CDC, WHO, etc. I sometimes think these organizations have our worst interests in mind. Fauci is not a practicing physician, but he is a paper pusher. He was a very bad choice to lead this effort. The politi-fact article is quite pathetic in that it uses references that are mostly connected to the Gates Foundation & various leftist media organizations. No one I would trust. The biggest fault in this effort is the lack of immediacy in using existing substances, such as HCQ for treatment. Instead we have to wait for a vaccine to go thru years of trials per std FDA procedures. People who died could have been saved, but that is not the priority. Gates and Fauci should be questioned about that choice. My thought is it starts with $$$$$$.
  • F. Thomas Fiedler
    commented 2020-05-12 07:31:21 -0700
    We should demand fair hearing of opposing views before State of Emergency declared. But it’s not too late. DEMAND cancellation of lockdown now!