Population-based case-control study of occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields and breast cancer

Ann Epidemiol. 2001 Jul;11(5):297-303. doi: 10.1016/s1047-2797(01)00209-5.


Purpose: This population-based case-control study examined occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields in relation to female breast cancer incidence among 843 breast cancer cases and 773 controls.

Methods: Exposure was classified based on work in the two longest-held jobs, and indices of cumulative exposure to magnetic fields based on a measurement survey.

Results: Female breast cancer was not associated with employment as an office or industrial worker. For the total study population, cumulative exposure over the entire career, and in the past 0-10 and 10-20 years generally showed odds ratios (ORs) close to the null. Moderately elevated risks were found for intermediate but not high levels of cumulative exposure accumulated 20 or more years ago (OR = 1.5; 95% CI = 1.1-2.0). Associations were stronger for premenopausal women (OR = 1.7; 95% CI = 1.1-2.7) in the past 10-20 years, and those with estrogen-receptor positive (ER+) breast tumors (OR = 2.06; 95% CI = 1.1-4.0). No consistent dose-response patterns were observed.

Conclusions: These findings give little support to the hypothesis that electromagnetic fields cause cancer of the female breast.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Climacteric
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupations
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk
  • Time Factors