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Archive-name: medicine/powerlines-cancer-faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 17-June-2003
Version: 7.9.4
URL: http://www.mcw.edu/gcrc/cop/powerlines-cancer-faq/toc.html 
Copyright: (c) 1993-2003 John E. Moulder & The Medical College of
Wisconsin
Maintainer: John E. Moulder <jmoulder@mcw.edu>

** Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Power-Frequency Fields (EMF)
and Cancer

**Summary**

Questions and Answers on the connection between power lines, electrical
occupations and cancer: discussion of the biophysics of interactions
with EM sources, summaries of the laboratory and human studies,
information on standards, and a bibliography.

Most of the concern about power lines ("EMF") and cancer stems from
studies of people living near power lines (Question 12) and people
working in "electrical" occupations (Question 15).  Some of these
studies appear to show a weak association between exposure to
power-frequency magnetic fields and the incidence of cancer.

However, epidemiological studies done in recent years show little
evidence that power lines are associated with an increase in cancer
(Question 19), laboratory studies have shown essentially no evidence of
a link between power-frequency fields and cancer (Question 16), and a
connection between power line fields and cancer remains biophysically
implausible (Question 18).

A 1996 review by the U.S. National Academy of Science concluded that:
  "No conclusive and consistent evidence shows that exposures to
   residential electric and magnetic fields produce cancer, adverse
   neurobehavioral effects, or reproductive and developmental
   effects."(Question 27E)

A 1999 review by the U.S. National Institutes of Health concluded that:
  "The scientific evidence suggesting that [power-frequency
   electromagnetic field] exposures pose any health risk is
   weak."(Question 27G). 

A 2001 review by the U.K. National Radiation Protection Board (NRPB)
concluded that:
  "Laboratory experiments have provided no good evidence that extremely
   low frequency electromagnetic fields are capable of producing
   cancer, nor do human epidemiological studies suggest that they cause
   cancer in general." (Question 27H)

A 2001 review of the epidemiological literature by the International
Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection concludes that: 
  "In the absence of evidence from cellular or animal studies, and
   given the methodological uncertainties and in may cases
   inconsistencies of the existing epidemiologic literature, there is
   no chronic disease for which an etiological [causal] relation to
   [power-frequency fields] can be regarded as established." 

The largest studies of childhood leukemia and power lines ever done
reported in 1997-2000 that they could find no significant evidence for
an association of power lines with childhood leukemia (Q19H through
19K). In contrast, two studies published in 2000 reported that if all
the studies for which magnetic fields were measured (or could be
calculated) were pooled, a statistically significant association could
be found for childhood leukemia in the children with the highest
average fields. 

On the other hand, a series of studies have shown what life-time
exposure of animals to intense power-frequency magnetic fields does not
cause cancer or any other health problems. (Q16B) 

Overall, most scientists consider the evidence that power line fields
cause or contribute to cancer to be weak to nonexistent.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
The full version of this FAQ is available on the web at:
     http://www.mcw.edu/gcrc/cop/powerlines-cancer-faq/toc.html

NOTE THAT "faq" is lower-case. UPPER-CASE MAY OR MAY NOT WORK 
 
The USENET version contains only the Table of Contents and a list of
recent revisions.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Preguntas y respuestas sobre líneas electricas y cancer esta disponible
en espanol:
     http://www.mcw.edu/gcrc/cop/lineas-electricas-cancer/toc.html
---------------------------------------------------------------------
There are two related FAQs: 
FAQs about Cell Phone Base Antennas and Human Health
     http://www.mcw.edu/gcrc/cop/cell-phone-health-faq/toc.html
Static Electromagnetic Fields and Cancer FAQs
     http://www.mcw.edu/gcrc/cop/static-fields-cancer-faq/toc.html

NOTE THAT "faq" IS lower case. UPPER CASE MAY OR MAY NOT WORK 

---------------------------------------------------------------------

** Revisions Notes

(v7.9, May/June 2003):
 - Blood cells were exposed to a 800 microT 60-Hz field for 24 hours
   and/or to a chemical mutagen; no evidence of genotoxic injury was
   found for the field alone, but exposure to the field enhanced the
   genotoxicity caused by the chemical [G118]. 
 - Blood cells were exposed to a 230-700 microT 50-Hz fields for 12
   hours and/or to gamma irradiation; no evidence of genotoxic injury
   was found for the field alone, and exposure to the field did not
   enhance the chromosome injury caused by the ionizing radiation
   [G119]. 
 - A study of men with both occupational and residential exposure to
   power-frequency fields found no effects of the exposure on melatonin
   levels [E43].  
 - Calculated residential magnetic field exposure was associated with
   melanoma in women, but not in men; estimated occupational magnetic
   field exposure was not associated with melanoma [C65]. 
 - Occupational exposure to power-frequency magnetic fields was
   associated with prostate cancer [D52]. 
 - Human cancer cells were exposed to 2000- 13000 microT fields at 50Hz
   for 2 or 4 days; above 6000 microT cell division was inhibited and
   cell death was increased [H70]. 
 - Exposure of human white blood cells to 80 or 800 microT 50-Hz fields
   did not cause genotoxic injury, and did not significantly enhance
   genotoxic injury produced by a genotoxic drug; but the 800 microT
   exposure showed some evidence for enhancement of cell division
  [G117]. 
 - Exposure of pregnant rats to 5-500 microT 60-Hz fields for 6-20 days
   had no effect on the mothers or on the offspring [J31].

 (v7.8, Jan/Feb-2003): 
 - Occupational exposure to power-frequency fields was associated with
   brain cancer, but only if there was also exposure to lead, solvents
   or pesticide/herbicides [D51]. 
 - Exposure to power line electric fields in the UK was not
   associated with the incidence of childhood cancer [C64]. 
 - Residence near powerlines in Norway was not associated with an
   increased risk of birth defects [J30]. 
 - Exposure to a 2000 microT field for 52 weeks did not promote skin
   cancer in rats [G116]. 
 - Exposure of human volunteers to power-frequency fields had no
   effect on nighttime secretion of melatonin or other hormones [E35]. 
 - Exposure of human immune system cells to 2-500 microT fields had
   no effects on their function [H69]. 
 - Exposure of cultured cells to a 1000 microT field caused DNA
   stand breaks if the exposure was intermittent, but not if the
   exposure was continuous [G115]. 
 - Two studies of electrical utility workers found no evidence that
   exposure to power-frequency fields was associated with heart
   disease [E37, E38]. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------
** Table of Contents

 1. Is there a concern about power lines and cancer? 
 2. What is the difference between the electromagnetic (EM) energy
    associated with power lines and other forms of EM energy such as
    microwaves or x-rays? 
 3. Why do different types of EM sources produce different biological
    effects? 
 4. What is difference between EM radiation and EM fields? 
 5. Do power lines produce EM radiation? 
 6. How do ionizing EM sources cause biological effects? 
 7. How do RF and MW sources cause biological effects? 
 8. How do the power-frequency EM fields cause biological effects? 
 9. Do non-ionizing EM sources cause non-thermal as well as thermal
    effects? 
10. What sort of power-frequency fields are common in residences and
    workplaces? 
11. Can power-frequency fields in homes and workplaces be reduced? 
12. What is known about the relationship between power line corridors
    and cancer rates? 
13. How big is the "cancer risk" associated with living next to a power
    line?
    a. What is the risk of cancer in general? 
    b. What is the risk of childhood leukemia? 
14. How close do you have to be to a power line to be considered exposed
    to power-frequency magnetic fields? 
15. What is known about the relationship between electrical occupations
    and cancer rates? 
16. Do laboratory studies indicate that power-frequency fields can cause
    cancer? 
    a. Do power-frequency fields show genotoxic activity in humans? 
    b. Do power-frequency fields cause cancer in animals? 
    c. Do power-frequency fields show genotoxic activity in cell
       culture? 
    d. Do power-frequency magnetic fields cause or enhance neoplastic
       cell transformation? 
    e. Are power-frequency magnetic fields cancer promoters? 
    f. Do power-frequency magnetic fields enhance the effects of other 
       genotoxic agents?
17. Do laboratory studies indicate that power-frequency fields have any
    biological effects that might be relevant to cancer? 
    a. How do lab studies of the effects of power-frequency fields on
       cell and tumor growth relate to the question of cancer risk? 
    b. How do lab studies of the effects of power-frequency fields on 
       immune function relate to the question of cancer risk? 
    c. How do lab studies of the effects of power-frequency fields on
       melatonin relate to the question of cancer risk? 
18. Do power-frequency fields show any reproducible biological effects
    in laboratory studies? 
    a. Do power-frequency fields of the intensity encountered in
       occupational and residential settings show reproducible 
       biological effects? 
    b. Are there known mechanisms by which power-frequency fields of the
       intensity encountered in occupational and residential settings
       could cause biological effects? 
    c. Haven't some new mechanisms been proposed that could explain how
       power-frequency magnetic fields could cause biological effects? 
    d. Could the presence of transients or harmonics in power-frequency
       fields provide a biophysical mechanism for biological effects? 
19. What about the "new studies" showing a link between power-frequency
    fields and cancer? 
    a. What about the European (Scandinavian) epidemiological studies
       showing a link between power lines and cancer?
    b. What about the studies showing a link between occupational
       exposure to power-frequency fields and cancer? 
    c. What about the studies showing a link between electrical
       occupation and breast cancer? 
    d. What about the studies showing a link between pulsed electric
       fields and lung cancer? 
    e. What about the studies linking the use of electrical appliances
       with cancer? 
    f. What about Sweden's/Denmark's decision to regulate fields power
       line fields? 
    g. What about the study showing that it is the interaction between
       power- frequency fields and the Earth static field that causes
       cancer?
    h. What about the 1997 NCI study showing no link between power lines
       and childhood leukemia?
    j. What about the 1999 Canadian studies of power lines and childhood
       leukemia?
    k. What about the 1999-2000 UK studies of power lines and childhood
       leukemia? 
    l. Could exposure to power-frequency electric rather than magnetic
       fields be linked with cancer?
20. What criteria do scientists use to evaluate all the laboratory and
    epidemiologic studies of power-frequency magnetic fields and
    cancer? 
    a. Criterion One: How strong is the association between exposure to
       power-frequency fields and the risk of cancer? 
    b. Criterion Two: How consistent are the studies of associations
       between exposure to power-frequency fields and the risk of
       cancer? 
    c. Criterion Three: Is there a dose-response relationship between
       exposure to power-frequency fields and the risk of cancer?
    d. Criterion Four: Is there laboratory evidence for an association
       between exposure to power-frequency fields and the risk of
       cancer? 
    e. Criterion Five: Are there plausible biological mechanisms that
       suggest an association between exposure to power-frequency fields
       and the risk of cancer? 
21. If exposure to power-frequency magnetic fields does not explain the
    residential and occupations studies which show increased cancer
    incidence, what other factors could? 
    a. Could problems with dose assessment affect the validity of the 
       epidemiologic studies of power-frequency fields and cancer? 
    b. Are there other cancer risk factors that could be causing a false
       association between power-frequency fields and cancer? 
    c. Could the epidemiologic studies of power-frequency fields and
       cancer be biased by the methods used to select control groups? 
    d. Could analysis of the epidemiologic studies of power-frequency
       fields and cancer be skewed by publication bias? 
    e. Could analysis of the epidemiologic studies of power-frequency 
       fields and cancer be biased by multiple-comparison artifacts? 
    f. Does the evidence that childhood leukemia has an infectious basis
       mean that the weak association sometimes seen between power-
       frequency fields and childhood leukemia is an artifact? 
22. What is the strongest evidence for a connection between power-
    frequency fields and cancer? 
23. What is the strongest evidence against a connection between power-
    frequency fields and cancer?  
24. What studies are needed to resolve the cancer-EMF issue? 
25. Is there any evidence that power-frequency fields cause any effects
    on human health, such as miscarriages, birth defects, Alzheimer's
    disease, multiple sclerosis, suicide or sleep disorders?  
26. What are some good overview articles? 
27. Are there exposure guidelines for power-frequency fields? 
    a. What are there guidelines for power-frequency field exposure of
       the general public? 
    b. What are there guidelines for occupational power-frequency
       field exposure? 
    c. Are there special exposure guidelines for people with cardiac
       pacemakers 
    d. Is a US government agency about to recommend strict limits on 
       occupational and residential exposure to power-frequency fields? 
    e. What does the 1996 report from the U.S. National Research Council
       say?
    f. Does a 1998 report from the U.S. National Institute of
       Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) say that power-frequency
       fields are a "possible" carcinogen?
    g. What does the 1999 report from the U.S. National Institute of
       Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to the US Congress say
       about power-frequency fields and cancer?
    h. What does the 2001 report from the U.K. National Radiation
       Protection Board (NRPB) say about power-frequency fields and
       cancer? 
    j. Does a 2002 report from the International Agency for Research on
       Cancer (IARC) say that power-frequency fields are a "possible"
       carcinogen?
    k. What does the 2002 report from the State of California say about
       possible human health hazards from exposure to power-frequency
       fields?
28. What effect do power lines have on property values? 
29. What equipment do you need to measure power-frequency magnetic
    fields? 
30. How are power-frequency magnetic fields measured? 
31. Do the issues discussed in this FAQ sheet apply to EM fields other
    than power-frequency fields? 
    a. Low-frequency fields other than sinusoidal power-frequency
       fields 
    b. Static electric and magnetic fields 
    c. Radiofrequency and microwave frequencies 
32. What about the new study claiming that radon exposure is increased
    by the presence of electromagnetic fields. 
33. What about the reports that some people are sensitive to (allergic
    to) the presence of electromagnetic fields?
34. Should I buy a house next to a power line?
35. Who wrote this FAQ?

** Bibliography
1. Recent Reviews of the Biological and Health Effects of Power-
   Frequency Fields 
2. Reviews of the Epidemiology of Exposure to Power-Frequency Fields 
3. Epidemiology of Residential Exposure to Power-Frequency Fields 
4. Epidemiology of Occupational Exposure to Power-Frequency Fields 
5. Human Studies Related to Power-Frequency Exposure and Cancer 
6. Biophysics and Dosimetry of Power-Frequency Fields 
7. Laboratory Studies of Power-Frequency Fields and Cancer 
8. Laboratory Studies Indirectly Related to Power-Frequency Fields and
   Cancer 
9. Studies of Power-Frequency Fields and Reproductive Toxicity 
10. Reviews of Laboratory Studies of Power-Frequency Fields 
11. Miscellaneous Items 
12. Regulations and Standards for Ionizing and Non-ionizing EM Sources.

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