Breast cancer, occupation, and exposure to electromagnetic fields among Swedish men

Am J Ind Med. 2001 Mar;39(3):276-85. doi: 10.1002/1097-0274(200103)39:3<276::aid-ajim1015>;2-b.


Background: Investigations of breast cancer among men may provide clues for environmental and occupational risk factors that may be difficult to study in women, because of confounding or effect modification from reproductive female characteristics. The objective was to estimate occupation-specific risks of male breast cancer and to assess the effect of occupational exposure to extremely low-frequency magnetic fields (ELFMF).

Methods: Standardized incidence ratios were computed for the period 1971-1989 among Swedish men who were 25-59 years of age at start of follow-up and gainfully employed in 1970. Log-linear Poisson models were fitted to adjust for geographical area. A job exposure matrix was used to classify occupational ELFMF exposure.

Results: A marked and consistent excess risk was found for machinery repairers. Increased relative risks based on few cases were also noted for librarians/archivists/curators, bank employees, non-specified clerical workers, metal processing workers, tanners/fur dressers, policemen, and custom surveillance officials. The relative risk among subjects with an estimated ELFMF exposure above the first quartile (0.12 microT) was 1.31 (95% confidence interval = 0.94-1.81), without a clear exposure-response pattern. Indications of an exposure-response relationship were found in workers with intermittent ELFMF exposure.

Conclusions: The findings give no clear evidence for an etiological role of ELFMF in the development of breast cancer in men, but suggest that large variations in exposure over the work-day may be associated with an increased risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / etiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Time Factors