Radiation exposure, socioeconomic status, and brain tumor risk in the US Air Force: a nested case-control study

Am J Epidemiol. 1996 Mar 1;143(5):480-6. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a008768.


A nested case-control study was used to investigate the relation between a range of electromagnetic field exposures and brain tumor risk in the US Air Force. Cumulative extremely low frequency and radiofrequency/microwave electromagnetic field potential exposures were estimated from a job-exposure matrix developed for this study. Ionizing radiation exposures were obtained from personal dosimetry records. Men who were exposed to nonionizing electromagnetic fields had a small excess risk for developing brain tumors, with the extremely low frequency and radiofrequency/microwave age-race-senior military rank-adjusted odds ratios being 1.28 (95% confidence interval (Cl) 0.95-1.74) and 1.39 (95% Cl 1.01-1.90), respectively. By contrast, men who were exposed to ionizing radiation had an age-race-senior military rank-adjusted odds ratio of 0.58 (95% Cl 0.22-1.52). These results support a small association between extremely low frequency and radiofrequency/microwave electromagnetic field exposure and no association between ionizing radiation exposure and brain tumors in the US Air Force population. Military rank was consistently associated with brain tumor risk. Officers were more likely than enlisted men to develop brain tumors (age-race-adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 2.11, 95% Cl 1.48-3.01), and senior officers were at increased risk compared with all other US Air Force members (age-race-adjusted OR = 3.30, 95% Cl 1.99-5.45).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aerospace Medicine
  • Brain Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Odds Ratio
  • Radiation, Ionizing
  • Radiation, Nonionizing / adverse effects
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors