Purpose: The relationship between cellular telephone use and excretion of the melatonin metabolite 6-hydroxymelatonin sulfate (6-OHMS) was evaluated in two populations of male electric utility workers (Study 1, n=149; Study 2, n=77).
Materials and methods: Participants collected urine samples and recorded cellular telephone use over 3 consecutive workdays. Personal 60-Hz magnetic field (MF) and ambient light exposures were characterized on the same days using EMDEX II meters. A repeated measures analysis was used to assess the effects of cellular telephone use, alone and combined with MF exposures, after adjustment for age, participation month and light exposure.
Results: No change in 6-OHMS excretion was observed among those with daily cellular telephone use >25 min in Study 1 (5 worker-days). Study 2 workers with >25 min cellular telephone use per day (13 worker-days) had lower creatinine-adjusted mean nocturnal 6-OHMS concentrations (p=0.05) and overnight 6-OHMS excretion (p=0.03) compared with those without cellular telephone use. There was also a linear trend of decreasing mean nocturnal 6-OHMS/creatinine concentrations (p=0.02) and overnight 6-OHMS excretion (p=0.08) across categories of increasing cellular telephone use. A combined effect of cellular telephone use and occupational 60-Hz MF exposure in reducing 6-OHMS excretion was also observed in Study 2.
Conclusions: Exposure-related reductions in 6-OHMS excretion were observed in Study 2, where daily cellular telephone use of >25 min was more prevalent. Prolonged use of cellular telephones may lead to reduced melatonin production, and elevated 60-Hz MF exposures may potentiate the effect.