Study type: Epidemiological study (observational study)

Association between exposure to pulsed electromagnetic fields and cancer in electric utility workers in Quebec, Canada, and France. epidem.

Published in: Am J Epidemiol 1994; 140 (9): 805-820

Aim of study (acc. to author)

A nested case-control study of electric utility workers was conducted in Quebec, Canada, and France to investigate the association between exposure to pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) and cancer.

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation: (odds ratio (OR))

Exposure

Assessment

Exposure groups

Group Description
Reference group 1 cumulative exposure to pulsed electromagnetic fields: < median
Group 2 cumulative exposure to pulsed electromagnetic fields: ≥ median
Group 3 cumulative exposure to pulsed electromagnetic fields: ≥ 90th percentile

Population

Case group

Control group

Study size

Cases Controls
Participants 2,679 -
Other:

cohort comprises 21,479 men in Canada and about 170,000 men in France

Statistical analysis method: (adjustment: )

Conclusion (acc. to author)

No association was found between exposure to pulsed electromagnetic fields and cancer types previously suspected of association with magnetic fields (leukemia, other hematopoietic cancers, brain cancer, or melanoma). However, there was a clear association between cumulative exposure to PEMFs and lung cancer in the highest exposure group (OR 3.1; CI 1.6-6.0; 84 cases). This association was largely confined to electric utility workers in Quebec, where there was a clear dose-response relationship with an odds ratio of 6.7 (CI 2.7-16.6) in the highest exposure group (32 cases). The association is substantial and was not explained by smoking or other occupational exposures.

Limitations (acc. to author)

However, several factors limit the strength of the evidence for a causal relation: lack of precision of the measurements; little previous evidence for this association; and no elevated risk for lung cancer in the utility workers overall in comparison with the general population.

Study funded by

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