Self-reported electrical appliance use and risk of adult brain tumors

Am J Epidemiol. 2005 Jan 15;161(2):136-46. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwi013.


Electrical appliances produce the highest intensity exposures to residential extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields. The authors investigated whether appliances may be associated with adult brain tumors in a hospital-based case-control study at three centers in the United States from 1994 to 1998. A total of 410 glioma, 178 meningioma, and 90 acoustic neuroma cases and 686 controls responded to a self-administered questionnaire about 14 electrical appliances. There was little evidence of association between brain tumors and curling iron, heating pad, vibrating massager, electric blanket, heated water bed, sound system, computer, television, humidifier, microwave oven, and electric stove. Ever use of hair dryers was associated with glioma (odds ratio = 1.7, 95% confidence interval: 1.1, 2.5), but there was no evidence of increasing risk with increasing amount of use. In men, meningioma was associated with electric shaver use (odds ratio = 10.9, 95% confidence interval: 2.3, 50), and odds ratios increased with cumulative minutes of use, although they were based on only two nonexposed cases. Recall bias for appliances used regularly near the head or chance may provide an alternative explanation for the observed associations. Overall, results indicate that extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields from commonly used household appliances are unlikely to increase the risk of brain tumors.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Glioma / etiology*
  • Household Articles*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Meningioma / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / etiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors