Study: Leukemia risk no higher near power lines
July 2, 1997
Web posted at: 6:38 p.m. EDT (2238 GMT)
BETHESDA, Maryland (CNN) -- Children exposed to electromagnetic
fields by living near electrical power lines are not more
susceptible to developing leukemia, a study released
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common childhood
cancer, affecting about 2,000 children each year and killing
30 percent of them. Doctors know it can be caused by exposure
to conventional radiation, but, otherwise, the cause of the
disease is unknown.
The new findings from the National Cancer Institute are
published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers hope they calm fears that arose in 1979 when some
scientists found a connection between cancer and the fields
given off by power lines and electrical appliances.
More than a dozen studies have been done in the last 18 years
in an attempt to prove or disprove the suspected link.
"Our study, overall, shows no evidence of an increased risk
of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia at residential
magnetic-field levels experienced by most children in this
country," said Dr. Martha Linet, who led the study team.
The study, which was financed by the NCI and University of
Minnesota's Children's Cancer Institute, looked at 638
children with leukemia and compared their living condition
with those of 620 youngsters without cancer.
Unlike past studies, the new research directly measured
electromagnetic fields in the home and in past residences
where a child had lived. Other studies simply estimated a
Researchers also checked to see if the mother had lived near
power lines when she was pregnant.
In an editorial, Journal of Medicine Deputy Editor Edward
Campion said the new findings should put the controversy over
power lines and childhood leukemia to rest.
"In recent years, several commissions and expert panels have
concluded that there is no convincing evidence that
high-voltage power lines are a health hazard or
a cause of cancer," he said.
Correspondent Al Hinman and Reuters contributed to this report.
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