Residential extremely low frequency magnetic fields and skin cancer

Occup Environ Med. 2021 Sep 30;oemed-2021-107776. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2021-107776. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Photoinduced radical reactions have a fundamental role in skin cancer induced by ultraviolet radiation, and changes in radical reactions have also been proposed as a mechanism for the putative carcinogenic effects of extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields (MFs). We assessed the association of melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma with residential MF exposure.

Methods: All cohort members had lived in buildings with indoor transformer stations (TSs) during the period from 1971 to 2016. MF exposure was assessed based on apartment location. Out of the 225 492 individuals, 8617 (149 291 person-years of follow-up) living in apartments next to TSs were considered as exposed, while individuals living on higher floors of the same buildings were considered as referents. Associations between MF exposure and skin cancers were examined using Cox proportional hazard models.

Results: The HR for MF exposure ≥6 month was 1.05 (95% CI 0.72 to 1.53) for melanoma and 0.94 (95% CI 0.55 to 1.61) for squamous cell carcinoma. Analysis of the age at the start of residence showed an elevated HR (2.55, 95% CI 1.15 to 5.69) for melanoma among those who lived in the apartments when they were less than 15 years old. This finding was based on seven exposed cases.

Conclusions: The results of this study suggested an association between childhood ELF MF exposure and adult melanoma. This is in agreement with previous findings suggesting that the carcinogenic effects of ELF MFs may be associated particularly with childhood exposure.

Keywords: electromagnetic fields; environmental Exposure; melanoma.