Childhood leukaemia close to high-voltage power lines--the Geocap study, 2002-2007

Br J Cancer. 2013 May 14;108(9):1899-906. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2013.128. Epub 2013 Apr 4.


Background: High-voltage overhead power lines (HVOLs) are a source of extremely low-frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MFs), which are classified as possible risk factors for childhood acute leukaemia (AL). The study was carried out to test the hypothesis of an increased AL incidence in children living close to HVOL of 225-400 kV (VHV-HVOL) and 63-150 kV (HV-HVOL).

Methods: The nationwide Geocap study included all the 2779 cases of childhood AL diagnosed in France over 2002-2007 and 30 000 contemporaneous population controls. The addresses at the time of inclusion were geocoded and precisely located around the whole HVOL network.

Results: Increased odds ratios (ORs) were observed for AL occurrence and living within 50 m of a VHV-HVOL (OR=1.7 (0.9-3.6)). In contrast, there was no association with living beyond that distance from a VHV-HVOL or within 50 m of a HV-HVOL.

Conclusion: The present study, free from any participation bias, supports the previous international findings of an increase in AL incidence close to VHV-HVOL. In order to investigate for a potential role of ELF-MF in the results, ELF-MF at the residences close to HVOL are to be estimated, using models based on the annual current loads and local characteristics of the lines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Electric Power Supplies / adverse effects
  • Electricity / adverse effects*
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Geographic Mapping
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / epidemiology*
  • Leukemia / etiology
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors