Residential and occupational exposure to 50 Hz magnetic fields and hematological cancers in Norway

Cancer Causes Control. 2003 Oct;14(8):715-20. doi: 10.1023/a:1026331807952.


Objective: The aim of this nested case-control study was to test the hypothesis that exposure to electromagnetic fields from high-voltage power lines increases the incidence of hematological cancers in adults. Data from an occupational exposure matrix was also used.

Methods: The study population comprised subjects aged 16 and above who had lived in a residence situated in a broad corridor around a high-voltage power line in 1980, or one of the years from 1986 to 1996. The cases were incident cases diagnosed 1980-1996. Two controls were matched to each case by year of birth, sex, municipality and first year entering the cohort. Time-weighted average exposure to residential magnetic fields generated by the power lines was calculated for the exposure follow-up from January 1, 1967 until diagnosis using cut-off points at 0.05 and 0.20 microT. In addition, job titles and industrial branch was classified as categories of hours per week in a magnetic field above background (0.1 microT). Subjects exposures were cumulated over occupationally active years for the exposure follow-up January 1, 1955 until diagnosis.

Results: When residential magnetic fields are evaluated, the two upper residential time weighted average magnetic field categories showed non-significant elevated odds ratios (ORs) for all leukemia combined (OR: 1.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.7-2.5 and OR: 1.5, 95% CI: 0.8-3.0). The increased risk was confined to chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute lymphocytic and acute myeloid leukemia. Lymphoma showed a non-significant lower OR in the upper exposure category. Multiple myeloma showed non-significant elevated ORs. Occupational exposure showed no significant association to exposure for any site.

Conclusions: Some elevated ORs were observed in the present study, but the results are based on small numbers and no firm conclusions can be drawn.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data