Radiation Protection


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EMR Literature Survey - July 2016

Increasing incidence of thyroid cancer in the Nordic countries with main focus on Swedish data

By: Carlberg M, Hedendahl L, Ahonen M, Koppel T, Hardell L
Published in: BMC Cancer 2016; 16 (1): 426-


This is an ecological study that investigated the incidence of thyroid cancer and mobile phone use in Sweden and other Nordic countries. In Sweden, there was a statistically significant increase in thyroid cancer incidence in women during the period 1970-2013. The highest annual percentage change (APC) was found in the age group 20-39 during 2006-2013 (APC = +10.77%, 95% confidence interval, 95% CI = 5.75 -16.04%). In Nordic countries, there was also statistically significant increase in thyroid cancer incidence in women. The authors compared the thyroid cancer incidence data to the total duration of mobile phone calls made in the Nordic countries for the period 2001-2013. The authors hypothesised that radiofrequency (RF) exposure resulting from mobile phone use is a possible risk factor for thyroid cancer.


Commentary by ARPANSA

Epidemiological investigations on RF exposure and thyroid cancer are scarce. There are more studies investigating the thyroid hormone function, which are mostly animal studies.

Although useful as a preliminary study to generate a hypothesis between a possible risk factor and outcome an ecological study cannot be used to establish a cause and effect association. This is because ecological studies have a number of limitations including that the observation or data collection is made at the population level and not at the individual level. Further studies will be required to test if there actually is an association between mobile phone use and thyroid cancer.

Maternal exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields: Association with time to pregnancy and foetal growth

By: Eskelinen T et al
Published in: Environ Int 2016


This case-control study looked into the association between extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields (MF) exposure and adverse effects on pregnancy. A total of 373 women were included in the study. The ELF MF exposure levels before and during pregnancy were obtained via measurements and questionnaires. There were no statistically significant findings between ELF MF exposure and any adverse pregnancy outcomes investigated such as delayed pregnancies and low birth weight.


Symptoms in Swiss adolescents in relation to exposure from fixed site transmitters: a prospective cohort study

By: Schoeni A et al
Published in: Environ Health 2016; 15 (1): 77


This is a cohort study that investigated whether environmental RF exposure is associated with subjective well-being. A total of 439 students aged 12-17 years participated in the study. Subjective symptoms related to the presence of mobile phone base stations and broadcast transmitters (used for TV and radio transmission) were collected at the beginning of the study and a year later via questionnaires. The RF exposure was assessed via calculations using information on the fixed transmitter sources. The analyses of data following a cohort approach found an increased risk only for tiredness (odds ratio, OR = 2.94; 95% CI = 1.43 – 6.05). However the analyses following a cross-sectional approach did not find any associations. The authors concluded that the environmental RF exposure was not consistently associated with subjective symptoms.


Acute Exposure to Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) has effects on the electroencephalogram and electrocardiogram, consistent with vagal nerve stimulation

By: Burgess AP et al
Published in: Environ Res 2016; 150: 461-469


This is a human provocation study that investigated the effects of Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) on brain and cardiac activity. A total of 164 police officers and a further 40 volunteers were involved in the study for two experiments. In the first experiment, participants were exposed to a TETRA sourceplaced against the head and chest, whereas in the second experiment only the chest was exposed. There were minor neurophysiological effects that were observed in the first experiment during the chest exposure that were not replicated in the second experiment. The authors reported that there is no association between TETRA exposure and adverse health effects.


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