Leukaemia and residence near electricity transmission equipment: a case-control study

Br J Cancer. 1989 Nov;60(5):793-8. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1989.362.


A population-based case-control study of leukaemia and residential proximity to electricity supply equipment has been carried out in south-east England. A total of 771 leukaemias was studied, matched for age, sex, year of diagnosis and district of residence to 1,432 controls registered with a solid tumour excluding lymphoma; 231 general population controls aged 18 and over from one part of the study area were also used. The potential for residential exposure to power frequency magnetic fields from power-lines and transformer substations was assessed indirectly from the distance, type and loading of the equipment near each subject's residence. Only 0.6% of subjects lived within 100 m of an overhead power-line, and the risk of leukaemia relative to cancer controls for residence within 100 m was 1.45 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.54-3.88); within 50 m the relative risk was 2.0 but with a wider confidence interval (95% CI 0.4-9.0). Over 40% of subjects lived within 100 m of a substation, for which the relative risk of leukaemia was 0.99. Residence within 25 m carried a risk of 1.3 (95% CI 0.8-2.0). Weighted exposure indices incorporating measures of the current load carried by the substations did not materially alter these risks estimates. For persons aged less than 18 the relative risk of leukaemia from residence within 50 m of a substation was higher than in adults (PR = 1.5, 95% CI 0.7-3.4).

MeSH terms

  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena
  • England
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / etiology*
  • Power Plants
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors