Occupational electromagnetic fields and leukemia and brain cancer: an update to two meta-analyses

J Occup Environ Med. 2008 Jun;50(6):677-88. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181757a27.


Objective: To update past meta-analyses on occupational electromagnetic fields (EMF) and adult brain cancer and leukemia.

Methods: We collected and evaluated all relevant 1993 to 2007 publications. Summary estimates were obtained using various weighting schemes. To explore sources of heterogeneity, study characteristics were examined using regression analysis.

Results: Overall, for new studies, both brain cancer and leukemia showed small increases in risk estimates, 10% and 13%, respectively. Notably, pooled risk estimates were lower than in past meta-analyses, and leukemia subtypes showed no consistent pattern when past and present meta-analyses were compared.

Conclusions: The lack of a clear pattern of EMF exposure and outcome risk does not support a hypothesis that these exposures are responsible for the observed excess risk. Findings were not sensitive to assumptions, influential studies, weighting schemes, publication bias, study characteristics, or funding source.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Causality
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / classification
  • Leukemia / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupations / classification
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Assessment