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EMR Literature Survey - October 2015

Meta-analysis of extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields and cancer risk: a pooled analysis of epidemiologic studies

By: Zhang Y, Lai J, Ruan G, Chen C, Wang DW
Published in: Environ Int 2015; 88 : 36 – 43


Meta-analysis of epidemiological studies that investigated the association between extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields (EMF) and cancer risk. A total of 42 case-control studies involving 13,259 cases and 100,882 controls were included. The overall analysis of the pooled data found that there is a small increased cancer risk (odds ratio, OR = 1.08; 95% confidence interval, 95% CI = 1.01-1.15). In subgroup analyses increased risks were shown in interview-based studies compared to measurement-based studies, in North American studies compared to European studies and residential studies compared to occupational studies. The authors concluded that there is an association between ELF EMF exposure and cancer.


Commentary by ARPANSA

The study by Zhang et al is one of the first meta-analysis to include all of the eligible case-control studies on ELF EMF exposure and cancer. Although the authors found an overall statistically significant association, the association is very small. Furthermore the authors assign subjects as being exposed at lower exposure levels, which could account for the results. Another methodological problem with this paper is that it combines both occupational and residential studies for the overall result; although separate associations are also provided.

The overall evidence for an association between ELF magnetic field exposure and the risk of female breast cancer as well as adult brain cancer and leukaemia is weak and remains inadequate (see World Health Organization’s Environmental Health Criteria no. 238, http://www.who.int/entity/peh-emf/publications/Complet_DEC_2007.pdf). The exception is with leukaemia in children, the new epidemiological studies published after the WHO’s review are continuing to be consistent with earlier findings of a possible increased risk of childhood leukaemia with exposures higher than typically encountered by the public (Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks). However, it is not known how magnetic fields could cause childhood leukaemia. In addition, other research including studies on cells and animals has not confirmed these results. On balance, the evidence related to childhood leukaemia is not strong.

Long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones and Wi-Fi devices decreases plasma prolactin, progesterone, and estrogen levels but increases uterine oxidative stress in pregnant rats and their offspring

By: Yuksel M et al
Published in: Endocrine 2015: in press


This is an animal study that investigated the effects of mobile phone and Wi-Fi use on some hormones and oxidative stress levels. A total of 72 rats (32 pregnant at the start and subsequently yielded 40 offspring) were divided into four groups: 1 control group and 3 exposed groups to radiofrequency (RF) radiation at 900, 1800 and 2450 megahertz (MHz), at specific absorption rate (SAR) of 0.1 W/kg (25% higher than the exposure limit for members of the public), for 60 minutes per day for a total of 9 weeks. The authors found that RF may alter hormone concentrations and oxidative stress levels in pregnant rats and their offspring.


Exposure to mobile phone electromagnetic field radiation, ringtone and vibration affects anxiety-like behaviour and oxidative stress biomarkers in albino wistar rats

By: Shehu A et al
Published in: Metab Brain Dis 2015: in press


This animal study investigated whether the RF exposure, ringtone and vibration associated with mobile phone use results in anxiety-like behaviour and oxidative stress. A total of 25 rats were randomly divided into 5 groups: 1 group sham-exposed and 4 groups exposed to RF emitted from GSM mobile phones (at frequencies of 900/1800 MHz) with the phones’ ringing mode on silent, vibration, ringtone, and combination of vibration and ringtone. The exposure was for 10 minutes per day for 4 weeks. The authors found that the RF exposure or in combination with vibration and/or ringtone produced an effect on anxiety-like behaviour and oxidative stress in young rats.


Genotoxicity induced by foetal and infant exposure to magnetic fields and modulation of ionising radiation effects

By: Udroiu I et al
Published in: PLoS One 2015; 10 (11): e0142259-1 - e0142259-14


This animal study investigated whether the low-level exposure to ELF magnetic fields (MF) (alone and when combined with ionising radiation) has any effects on survival, growth and development of offspring during pregnancy and after birth. Mice were divided into 4 groups: sham-exposed, exposed to ELF-MF, exposed to X-rays (dose of 1 Gray), and exposed to both ELF-MF and X-rays. The ELF-MF exposure was at 50 Hz, 65 µT (32.5% of the public exposure limit from the current international guidelines), 24 hours/day for 30 days. The authors found that no effects were detected after continuous exposure to ELF-MF alone, whereas effects were observed with combined exposures to ELF-MF and X-rays.


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