Brain cancer and occupational exposure to magnetic fields among men: results from a Canadian population-based case-control study

Int J Epidemiol. 2002 Feb;31(1):210-7. doi: 10.1093/ije/31.1.210.


Background: The relationship between occupational exposure to magnetic fields and brain cancer in men was investigated using population-based case-control data collected in eight Canadian provinces. Emphasis was placed on examining the variations in risk across different histological types.

Methods: A list of occupations was compiled for 543 cases and 543 controls that were individually matched by age. Occupations were categorized according to their average magnetic field exposure through blinded expert review (<0.3, 0.3-<0.6, and > or = 0.6 microT). In total, 133 cases (14%) and 123 controls (12%) were estimated to have at least one occupation whereby magnetic field exposures exceeded 0.3 microT. Odds ratios (OR) were generated using conditional logistic regression, and were adjusted for suspected occupational risk factors for brain cancer.

Results: A non-significantly increased risk of brain cancer was observed among men who had ever held a job with an average magnetic field exposure >0.6 microT relative to those with exposures <0.3 microT (OR = 1.33, 95% CI : 0.75-2.36). A more pronounced risk was observed among men diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme (OR = 5.36, 95% CI : 1.16-24.78). Moreover, a cumulative time weighted index score of magnetic field exposure was significantly related to glioblastoma multiforme (P = 0.02). In contrast, magnetic field exposures were not associated with astrocytoma or other brain cancers.

Conclusions: Our findings support the hypothesis that occupational magnetic field exposure increases the risk of glioblastoma multiforme.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Astrocytoma / epidemiology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Glioblastoma / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure*