A meta-analysis on the relationship between exposure to ELF-EMFs and the risk of female breast cancer

PLoS One. 2013 Jul 15;8(7):e69272. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069272. Print 2013.


Objective: To comprehensively analyze the relationship between exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMFs) and the development of female breast cancer.

Methods: Reports of case-control studies published from 1990 to 2010 were analyzed. The quality effect model was chosen to calculate total odds ratio (OR) depending on the data in studies and quality scores. Subgroup analyses were also performed by the situation of menopause, estrogenic receptor and exposure assessment respectively.

Results: For all 23 studies the OR was 1.07, 95% CI=1.02-1.13, for estrogen receptor positive subgroup,OR=1.11, 95% CI=1.03-1.20; for premenopausal subgroup, OR=1.11, 95% CI=1.00-1.23. The results of other subgroups showed no significant association between ELF-EMF and female breast cancer.

Conclusion: ELF-EMFs might be related to an increased risk for female breast cancer, especially for premenopausal and ER+ females. However, it's necessary to undertake better epidemiologic researches to verify the association between ELF-EMF and female breast cancer due to the limits of current study, especially the one on exposure assessment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment

Grant support

This work was supported by grants from the Key Project of the National Eleventh-Five Year Research Program of China(2006BAK04A11)and the National Health Standard Enacting Program of China in 2010 (20100309). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.