Magnetic fields and cancer in children residing near Swedish high-voltage power lines

Am J Epidemiol. 1993 Oct 1;138(7):467-81. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a116881.


A case-control study was conducted to test the hypothesis that exposure to magnetic fields of the type generated by high-voltage power lines increases cancer incidence in children. The study base consisted of everyone under age 16 years who had lived on a property located within 300 meters of any of the 220 and 400 kV power lines in Sweden during the period 1960-1985. Subjects were followed from their entry into the study base through 1985. A total of 142 cancer cases were identified through a record linkage to the Swedish Cancer Registry. There were 39 leukemia and 33 central nervous system tumor cases. A total of 558 controls were selected at random from the study base. Exposure was assessed by spot measurements and by calculations of the magnetic fields generated by the power lines, taking distance, line configuration, and load into account. Information about historical loads on the power lines was used to calculate the magnetic fields for the year closest in time to diagnosis. When historical calculations were used as exposure assessment for childhood leukemia with cutoff points at 0.1 and 0.2 microtesla (microT), the estimated relative risk increased over the two exposure levels and was estimated at 2.7 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.0-6.3) for 0.2 microT and over; p for trend = 0.02. When the upper cutoff point was shifted to 0.3 microT, the relative risk was 3.8 (95% CI 1.4-9.3); p for trend = 0.005. These results persisted when adjustment for potential confounding factors was made. For central nervous system tumor, lymphoma, and all childhood cancers combined, there was no support for an association.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Electric Power Supplies / adverse effects
  • Electricity / adverse effects
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweden / epidemiology