The influence of 1.2 microT, 60 Hz magnetic fields on melatonin- and tamoxifen-induced inhibition of MCF-7 cell growth

Bioelectromagnetics. 2001 Feb;22(2):122-8. doi: 10.1002/1521-186x(200102)22:2<122::aid-bem1015>;2-v.


We independently examined the findings of Harland and Liburdy, who reported that 1.2 microT(rms), 60 Hz magnetic fields could significantly reduce the inhibitory action of physiological levels of melatonin (10(-9) M) and of pharmacological levels of tamoxifen (10(-7) M) on the growth of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells in vitro. We used two testing protocols. In the melatonin study, the cell numbers per dish on day 7 of treatment were determined using a hemocytometer assay. In the tamoxifen study we used an expanded protocol, employing an alternative cell counting assay to characterize the cell numbers per dish on days 4, 5, 6, and 7. In both the melatonin and tamoxifen studies, cells were plated on 35 mm dishes and placed in each of two exposure chambers inside 5% CO(2) incubators. One exposure chamber was energized to produce 1.2 microT(rms), 60 Hz magnetic fields and the other chamber was not energized. Treatment was continuous until assays were performed. Cells were harvested at selected times, and enumerated without knowledge of treatment. In the melatonin study, the experiment was repeated three times, whereas in the tamoxifen study, each experiment was repeated nine times. In the melatonin study, cell numbers per dish were significantly reduced (by 16.7%) in the melatonin treated cultures after 7 days of incubation compared to control cultures, whereas in the presence of 1.2 microT(rms), 60 Hz magnetic fields, the melatonin treated cultures had the same cell populations as the control cultures. In the tamoxifen study, tamoxifen reduced the cell growth by 18.6 and 25% on days 6 and 7, respectively, in the chamber not energized, while in 1.2 microT(rms), 60 Hz fields, tamoxifen reduced the cell growth only by 8.7 and 13.1%, respectively. These results are consistent with those reported by Harland and Liburdy. A critical element of this successful replication effort was the constructive communication established and maintained with the original investigators. Bioelectromagnetics 22:122-128, 2001. Published 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / pharmacology
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Division / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetics / adverse effects*
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Tamoxifen
  • Melatonin