Are EM Fields Increasing Your Risk of Developing Breast Cancer?
Last week I talked about electrosensitivity (electromagnetic hypersensitivity), and addressed some of the possible implications of electromagnetic (EM) frequency pollution for human and animal health. You don’t necessarily have to be sensitive to these EM fields to be concerned. While the issue remains controversial, a small but growing number of scientists worry that exposure to common artificial EM fields may be affecting us in unexpected ways.
How common is EM pollution? According to a report prepared by a World Health Organization workshop group, modern sources include high voltage power lines, radar, radio and television broadcasting stations, mobile phones and their base stations, microwave ovens, security and anti-theft devices, automated highway toll systems and even fluorescent lights.
This issue is of special concern to women, because, as you probably know, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Some scientists believe that exposure to so-called extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) is associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer. This has not been conclusively demonstrated, however.
Early studies suggested a link, but more recent studies, which have compared results from many previous studies of various designs, have largely concluded there is no such link. Nevertheless, in 2007, researchers at the University of Wisconsin evaluated nearly 14,000 women, and assessed their workplace exposure to EMF. Women with the highest exposure were slightly more likely to have been diagnosed with breast cancer, investigators concluded.
McElroy JA, Egan KM, Titus-Ernstoff L, Anderson HA, Trentham-Dietz A, Hampton JM, et al. Occupational exposure to electromagnetic field and breast cancer risk in a large, population-based, case-control study in the United States. J Occup Environ Med. 2007 Mar;49(3):266-74.