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Extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields and cancer: the epidemiologic evidence.

  • Author(s): BATES, Michael N.
  • et al.

This paper reviews the epidemiologic evidence that low frequency electromagnetic fields generated by alternating current may be a cause of cancer. Studies examining residential exposures of children and adults and studies of electrical and electronics workers are reviewed. Using conventional epidemiologic criteria for inferring causal associations, including strength and consistency of the relationship, biological plausibility, and the possibility of bias as an explanation, it is concluded that the evidence is strongly suggestive that such radiation is carcinogenic. The evidence is strongest for brain and central nervous system cancers in electrical workers and children. Weaker evidence supports an association with leukemia in electrical workers. Some evidence also exists for an association with melanoma in electrical workers. Failure to find consistent evidence of a link between residential exposures and adult cancers may be attributable to exposure misclassification. Studies so far have used imperfect surrogates for any true biologically effective magnetic field exposure. The resulting exposure misclassification has produced relative risk estimates that understate any true risk.

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