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EM Fields and Leukemia

Feb. 26, 2013|593 views
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Women with small children might be interested to know that exposure to certain types of manmade electromagnetic (EM) fields has been linked to an increased risk of childhood leukemia. The association between EM exposure and increased risk of cancer was first noticed among adults working in the electrical power industry. For instance, a large epidemiological study conducted in Norway looked at nearly 40,000 electrical workers and compared them to similar workers who were not associated with the electrical industry.


Researchers compared the rates at which these men developed various types of cancer, and concluded that workers who had routinely been exposed to powerful EM fields were significantly more likely to develop leukemia than other men. Men in this group were also more likely to be diagnosed with a brain tumor.


Epidemiological studies are not conclusive. They can’t establish an indisputable link (causality) between a specific variable, such as EMF exposure, and an observed outcome (leukemia, in this instance). But the apparent association has prompted subsequent studies. And the results are chilling. Plenty of evidence now suggests there is a significantly greater risk of developing certain cancers among adults who work around EM fields every day. Studies also show, fairly convincingly, that children who are exposed to these fields, by living near high-tension power lines, for instance, are also at increased risk. More on that tomorrow.    



Ahlbom IC, Cardis E, Green A, Linet M, Savitz D, Swerdlow A; ICNIRP (International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) Standing Committee on Epidemiology. Review of the epidemiologic literature on EMF and Health. Environ Health Perspect. 2001 Dec;109 Suppl 6:911-33.


Brainard GC, Kavet R, Kheifets LI. The relationship between electromagnetic field and light exposures to melatonin and breast cancer risk: a review of the relevant literature. J Pineal Res. 1999 Mar;26(2):65-100.


Hardell L, Carlberg M, Hansson Mild K. Use of mobile phones and cordless phones is associated with increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma. Pathophysiology. 2012 Dec 20. pii: S0928-4680(12)00110-1. doi: 10.1016/j.pathophys.2012.11.001. [Epub ahead of print]


London SJ, Bowman JD, Sobel E, Thomas DC, Garabrant DH, Pearce N, et al. Exposure to magnetic fields among electrical workers in relation to leukemia risk in Los Angeles County. Am J Ind Med. 1994 Jul;26(1):47-60.


Tynes T, Andersen A, Langmark F. Incidence of cancer in Norwegian workers potentially exposed to electromagnetic fields. Am J Epidemiol. 1992 Jul 1;136(1):81-8

Tags:  prevention, health tips