Interactions between occupational exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields and chemicals for brain tumour risk in the INTEROCC study

Occup Environ Med. 2017 Nov;74(11):802-809. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2016-104080. Epub 2017 Jun 9.


Objectives: In absence of clear evidence regarding possible effects of occupational chemical exposures on brain tumour aetiology, it is worthwhile to explore the hypothesis that such exposures might act on brain tumour risk in interaction with occupational exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF).

Methods: INTEROCC is a seven-country (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, New Zealand and UK), population-based, case-control study, based on the larger INTERPHONE study. Incident cases of primary glioma and meningioma were ascertained from 2000 to 2004. Job titles were coded into standard international occupational classifications and estimates of ELF and chemical exposures were assigned based on job-exposure matrices. Dichotomous indicators of cumulative ELF (≥50th vs <50th percentile, 1-4 year exposure time window) and chemical exposures (ever vs never, 5-year lag) were created. Interaction was assessed on both the additive and multiplicative scales.

Results: A total of 1939 glioma cases, 1822 meningioma cases and 5404 controls were included in the analysis, using conditional logistic regression. There was no clear evidence for interactions between ELF and any of the chemical exposures assessed for either glioma or meningioma risk. For glioma, subjects in the low ELF/metal exposed group had a lower risk than would be predicted from marginal effects. Results were similar according to different exposure time windows, to cut-points of exposure or in exposed-only analyses.

Conclusions: There was no clear evidence for interactions between occupational ELF and chemical exposures in relation to glioma or meningioma risk observed. Further research with more refined estimates of occupational exposures is recommended.

Keywords: glioma; meningioma; occupation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australasia
  • Brain Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Brain Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Canada
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Glioma / chemically induced
  • Glioma / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Logistic Models
  • Magnetic Fields
  • Male
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Meningeal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Meningioma / chemically induced
  • Meningioma / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors