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Epidemiological study (observational study)

Pooled analysis of recent studies on magnetic fields and childhood leukaemia.

Published in: Br J Cancer 2010; 103 (7): 1128-1135

Aim of study (acc. to author)

The association between extremely low-frequency magnetic fields and childhood leukemia was investigated in a pooled analysis of seven recent studies. Following studies conducted after the pooled analyses of Greenland et al (2000) and Ahlbom et al (2000) were included: Bianchi et al, 2000 (Italy), Schüz et al, 2001 (Germany), Kabuto et al, 2006 (Japan), Lowenthal et al, 2007 (Tasmania/Australia), Malagoli et al, 2010 (Italy), Kroll et al, 2010 (UK), and Wunsch Filho, Brazil (personal communication, 2009).

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Exposure

Assessment

Exposure groups

Reference group 1 magnetic field exposure: < 0.1 µT
Group 2 magnetic field exposure: 0.1 - < 0.2 µT
Group 3 magnetic field exposure: 0.2 - < 0.3 µT
Group 4 magnetic field exposure: ≥ 0.3 µT

Population

  • Group:
    • children
  • Age: 0–15 years
  • Characteristics: childhood leukemia
  • Observation period: 1962 - 2009
  • Study location: Germany, Italy, UK, Japan, Australia, Brazil

Study size

Total 10,865
Statistical analysis method:
  • logistic regression
( adjustment:
  • age
  • sex
  • study
)

Conclusion (acc. to author)

Overall, there were 26 out of 10865 cases and 50 out of 12583 controls in the highest exposure category (> 0.3 µT), 11 cases and 30 controls were from the study in Brazil. In the combined results, risk for childhood leukemia increased with increase in exposure, but the estimates were imprecise due to low numbers (OR 1.07, CI 0.81-1.41 for magnetic field exposure 0.1-0.2 µT; OR 1.16, CI 0.69-1.93 for magnetic field exposure 0.2-0.3 µT; and OR 1.44, CI 0.88-2.36 for magnetic field exposure ≥ 0.3 µT). The odds ratios increased somewhat without the most influential study from Brazil.
The results broadly confirm the results of the previous pooled analyses of Greenland et al (2000) and Ahlbom et al (2000). The authors conclude that recent studies on magnetic fields and childhood leukemia do not alter the previous assessment that magnetic fields are possibly carcinogenic.

Study funded by

  • National Cancer Institute (NCI; U.S. National Institutes of Health), Maryland, USA
  • Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit (Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety), Germany
  • Children with Leukaemia Foundation, UK
  • Associazione Sostegno Ematologia Oncologia Pediatrica (ASEOP) ONLUS, Italy
  • Brazilian Electricity Regulatory Agency (ANEEL), Brazil
  • Reggio Emilia Municipality, Department of the Environment, Italy

Comments on this article

  • Schmiedel S et al. (2010): The association between extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields and childhood leukaemia in epidemiology: enough is enough?

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