Electromagnetic fields and female breast cancer

Cancer Causes Control. 2006 May;17(4):553-8. doi: 10.1007/s10552-005-9008-3.


The possibility that long term exposure to relatively weak power frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF) could increase the risk of breast cancer has been investigated during the past decade. The hypothesis is based on the assumption that magnetic field exposures suppress melatonin production and that melatonin is protective against breast cancer. Most epidemiological studies have indicated little or no overall effect of EMF exposure, but some early studies suggested effects among premenopausal women, particularly for estrogen receptor positive breast tumors. The early studies were often limited by small numbers, crude exposure information and lack of information on confounding factors. In more recent occupational studies, again no overall risk increases were reported, but some studies found increased risks in certain subgroups, although with no consistent pattern across studies. A recent very large occupational study with improved exposure assessment and enough statistical power also for subgroup analyses found no indications of increased risks in any subgroups. Most of the recent well-designed residential studies report no increased risks, and similar findings are reported in the majority of studies of bed heating devices. Overall, the weight of the evidence available today does not suggest an increased risk of breast cancer related to EMF exposure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Risk Factors