Study type: Epidemiological study (observational study)

Residential distance at birth from overhead high-voltage powerlines: childhood cancer risk in Britain 1962-2008. epidem.

Published in: Br J Cancer 2014; 110 (5): 1402-1408

Aim of study (acc. to author)

The previous study of childhood leukemia and proximity to high-voltage powerlines by Draper et al (2005) was extended by including data up to 2008 and cases and controls from Scotland, by considering 132-kV powerlines as well as 275 and 400 kV and by looking at greater distances from powerlines.

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation: (relative risk (RR))

Exposure

Assessment

Exposure groups

Group Description
Group 1 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: 0 - 199 m
Group 2 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: 200 - 599 m
Group 3 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: 600 - 999 m
Reference group 4 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: ≥ 1000 m
Group 5 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: 0 - 49 m
Group 6 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: 50 - 99 m
Group 7 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: 100 - 199 m
Group 8 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: 200 - 299 m
Group 9 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: 300 - 399 m
Group 10 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: 400 - 499 m
Group 11 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: 500 - 599 m
Group 12 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: 600 - 699 m
Group 13 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: 700 - 799 m
Group 14 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: 800 - 899 m
Group 15 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: 900 - 999 m
Reference group 16 distance of address at birth to nearest power line: ≥ 1000 m

Population

Case group

Control group

Study size

Cases Controls
Eligible 57,067 -
Evaluable 53,515 66,204
Statistical analysis method:

Conclusion (acc. to author)

In the previous study Draper et al (2005), an excess risk for childhood leukemia was found at distances within 600 m to power lines (400 kV and 275 kV). In the present study following risk estimates for childhood leukemia were observed for a distance of 0-199 m between residence at birth to power line compared with a distance of ≥ 1000 m together for all voltages: 1962-1969 RR 4.50 (CI 0.97-20.83), 2000-2008 RR 0.71 (CI 0.49-1.03), aggregate over whole period 1962-2008 RR 1.12 (CI 0.90-1.38). Risk appears to have declined over the period from 1962 to 2008 in Britain, and in aggregate over that period, there is no significant excess risk. An increased risk, albeit less strong, may also be present for 132-kV lines. No increased risk was found at a distance beyond 600 m for lines of any voltage. No increased risks were observed for tumor groups other than leukemia.
The authors conclude that a risk declining over time is unlikely to arise from any physical effect of the powerlines and is more likely to be the result of changing population characteristics among those living near powerlines.

Study funded by

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