Occupational exposure to extremely low-frequency magnetic fields and follicular lymphoma risk: a family case-control study

Occup Environ Med. 2023 Oct;80(10):599-602. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2023-108949. Epub 2023 Sep 18.


Objectives: We aimed to examine the relationship between occupational exposure to extremely low-frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MFs) and follicular lymphoma (FL) risk.

Methods: We conducted a family case-control study between 2011 and 2016 in Australia and included 681 cases. Controls were either a family member of cases (related (n=294), unrelated (n=179)) or were unrelated recruited for a similarly designed Australian multiple myeloma study (n=711). We obtained detailed job histories using lifetime work calendars. We assigned exposure to ELF-MFs using an enhanced job exposure matrix, with a lag period of 10 years. We examined associations with FL risk using logistic regression accounting for relatedness between cases and controls. We performed sensitivity analyses including by control type, by sex, complete case analyses, ELF-MF exposure percentiles in addition to quartiles, ELF-MF exposure in the maximum exposed job, a shorter lag period (1 year) and the cumulative exposure in the most recent time period (1-9 years).

Results: We observed no association with the average intensity, duration or lifetime cumulative exposure to occupational ELF-MF exposure in the primary or sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions: Our findings do not support an association between occupational ELF-MF exposure and FL risk. Although the inclusion of family members as part of the larger control group may have biased our risk estimates towards the null, findings were similar in sensitivity analyses restricted to cases and unrelated controls. Further research incorporating enhanced exposure assessment to ELF-MF is warranted to inform occupational safety regulations and any potential role in lymphomagenesis.

Keywords: epidemiology; occupational health; public health; radiation, nonionizing; risk assessment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Follicular* / epidemiology
  • Lymphoma, Follicular* / etiology
  • Magnetic Fields
  • Occupational Exposure* / adverse effects
  • Risk Factors