Neurodegenerative diseases, suicide and depressive symptoms in relation to EMF

Bioelectromagnetics. 2001;Suppl 5:S132-43. doi: 10.1002/1521-186x(2001)22:5+<::aid-bem1029>;2-m.


In 1979 the first study was published which indicated that environmental exposure to power frequency, electric and magnetic fields (EMF), might increase the risk of chronic disease. This was a study on cancer. However, this research area has gradually evolved and come also to include outcomes other than cancer. The purpose of this paper is to provide a better understanding of the literature on neurodegenerative diseases and on suicide and depressive symptoms in relation to EMF by using a meta-analysis technique. It is concluded that for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, there are relatively strong data indicating that electric utility work may be associated with an increased risk. However, EMF exposure is only one of several possible explanations to this. For Alzheimer's disease the combined data on an association with EMF are weaker than that for ALS. For suicide an overall assessment yields the conclusion that the support for an association is weak. For depressive symptoms the assessment is more complex, but the overall conclusion is nevertheless that the evidence is relatively weak. For other diseases, such as Parkinson's, there is not enough information for an assessment.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / etiology
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / epidemiology
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / etiology
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / epidemiology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / etiology*
  • Suicide*