Assessing the potential leukemogenic effects of 50 Hz magnetic fields and their harmonics using an animal leukemia model

J Radiat Res. 2008 Nov;49(6):565-77. doi: 10.1269/jrr.08019. Epub 2008 Oct 4.


To answer the still unresolved question of the possible leukemogenic effects of extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MFs) and of their harmonics on the incidence of B acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children, we used an animal model to explore the possible co-initiating or co-promoting effects of ELF-MFs on the development of leukemia. We used a rat model in which B acute lymphoblastic leukemia is chemically induced by a nitrosurea derivative. From the onset of the chemical treatment, the animals were also exposed to ELF-MFs (100 microT, sinusoidal 50 Hz MFs), with or without harmonics. The experiment was conducted on 280 rats. We compared body weight and survival time, percentage of bone marrow blast cells, cumulative incidence of leukemia and type of leukemia in the unexposed groups and in the groups exposed to 50 Hz MFs, with and without harmonics. The results showed no significant differences between exposed and unexposed rats for any of these parameters (p > 0.05). Significant changes in the leukemia type obtained after gamma-irradiation of the leukemia model, showed its sensitivity to a physical agent. Our results do not support the hypothesis that ELF-MFs, with or without harmonics, affect the development of B acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Electricity
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Female
  • Leukemia, Radiation-Induced / etiology*
  • Leukemia, Radiation-Induced / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Rats
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Whole-Body Irradiation / methods*