Cancer is not the only EMF (Health) Problem.....


11 December 1999

Cancer is not the only EMF (Health) Problem.....

[Note:  I am posting the following exchange of messages, which began (at the bottom) with a posting from Alasdair Philips (of Powerwatch) that provided the Drs. Repacholi and Ahlbom comments about the recent U.K. Childhood Cancer study which concluded: that it did not find any adverse consequences from power line EMF exposure in the U.K.  The Repacholi/Ahlbom commentary is valuable because it puts that "finding" in its proper perspective.

Then, one of the EMF-L members (Mr. Donald Stevens) raised another related issue -- very valid and perhaps even more important -- that expands the 'picture' well beyond the narrow confines of the too narrowly focused U.K. Childhood Cancer/power lines study.....

It is the latter 'picture' (raised by Mr. Stevens) which prompts me to add this message to the website]

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 13:13:22 -0600 (CST)
From: "Roy L. Beavers" <>
To: emfguru <>
Subject: Cancer is not the only EMF problem (Stevens)..

.......There is NO DOUBT that Donald is basically right in his contention below.....!!!  There are MANY other (adverse) health "end-points" that could be used to demonstrate the validity of the 'science' of bioeffects from EMF exposure!!  And the concomitant adverse health consequences....

In fact, there are "biological end-points," other than illnesses, which would do the same.....  e.g.,  The melatonin example, for one that we all know and understand.....

But having said that -- one must not underestimate the "importance" of focusing public attention on those illnesses and symptoms which the PUBLIC is likely to be most alarmed by!!!

"Importance," that is, in terms of "compelling" our governments to do their jobs!!  ....To do their jobs in terms of informing the PUBLIC about the facts, and perhaps some "regulation," etc....  But also "compelling" our governments to engage in further INDEPENDENT research on the EMF hazards....

That will require the spending of PUBLIC money.  Thus, the PUBLIC has to be "concerned" if research funds are to be forthcoming.....

For some reason, the childhood cancer 'threat'seems to be the one that gets the best headlines.....  Next, comes breast cancer.....  After that, I'm not sure.....

Don, if you can "squeeze" enough public attention out of EMF related "asthma" problems, for example, I am with you.....  If you can do it?!?

We say in the Ozarks:  When you are goin' fishin' for the big ones ... you've got to use the right bait.....  If the big ones are bightin' on crawdads.....  You use crawdads.....  If they are bitin' on cheese..... You use cheese.....

Guru is suggesting that, in this case, the "right bait" for the badly needed additional research funds from the public -- is cancer!!!  And, there is just no longer any doubt that the cancer connection is there!!!  The public needs to know that......!!

Donald is right about the science....  But, if the science were all we needed to win this war ... it'd be over......  The "science" is there.

This is a "P.R."/political war ... and it has been so ... since the Houston Light and Power case was decided in Texas in 1985......  (See guru's website on that......)


Roy Beavers (EMFguru)

It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness

People are more important than profits!!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 17:14:45 -0000
From: Donald Stevens <>
To: "Roy L. Beavers" <>
Subject: Re: Lancet - Commentary, Repacholi and Ahlbom

Hi All,

It alarms me that we all continue to accept the "authorities" continued focus on an emf-cancer link. Whilst we allow this, there will be many opportunities for 'statistics' to be distorted and for "authorities" to say "no case".

The [total] problem is reduced health, and there are many other factors that could be measured. Evidently there is a massive increase in eye problems in UK children, but the researchers looking at it do not mention emfs.

Lets get the focus away from cancer.

Donald Stevens.

From: Roy L. Beavers <>
To: emfguru <>
Subject: Lancet - Commentary, Repacholi and Ahlbom (fwd)
Date: 03 December 1999 15:28

.......I strongly recommend that everybody (particularly all of "the press") MEMORIZE the following.....

[Note.  Dr. Repacholi is well known to this group as the leader of the WHO research program on EMF.  Dr. Ahlbom is perhaps less well known, but he is an equally authoritative expert from Sweden.  He has a totally unblemished reputation for total objectivity.....!!)

Roy Beavers (EMFguru)

It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness

People are more important than profits!!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 03 Dec 1999 14:34:09
From: Alasdair Philips <>
To: "Roy L. Beavers" <>
Subject: Lancet - Commentary, Repacholi and Ahlbom

Forwarded hereby an important commentary on the "UK
Childhood Cancer"


Lancet CommentaryVolume 354, Number 9194  4 December 1999

Link between electromagnetic fields and childhood cancer unresolved

The long-awaited UK Childhood Cancer Study (UKCCS) on exposure to power-frequency magnetic fields and risk of childhood cancer published in today's Lancet does not support the hypothesis that exposure to magnetic fields, associated with the use or transmission of electricity in the UK, increases the risk of childhood leukaemia, central nervous system tumours, or any other childhood cancer.

Reviews of epidemiological studies conducted by the US National Research Council,1 WHO,2 and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)3 have suggested that there is a weak link between exposure to power-frequency magnetic fields and childhood leukaemia, with an odds ratio of about 1·5. Using the International Agency for Research on Cancer criteria for classifying potential carcinogens, an international working group convened by the NIEHS3 rated exposure to power-frequency fields as a category 2B, a possible human carcinogen.

WHO, through its International EMF Project, has been promoting research that attempts to address this 2B classification. From WHO's viewpoint, although the UKCCS is very large and well conducted, it is not the "definitive" study many scientists have been hoping for.

The first reason is that this study was designed many years ago, so the exposure assessment relies on time-weighted average (TWA) fields. TWA has been used in many studies but does not relate to any known mechanism of action of low-frequency fields in tissues. A recent WHO report4  recommends that, although TWA should continue to be used in future epidemiological studies for comparison purposes, other measures that relate to known mechanisms should also be included in the exposure-assessment protocol. Key among these measures is an assessment of any rapid changes in the magnetic field (transients) that occur when appliances are used, and in transients from distribution lines. Currents induced by power transients can produce signals in cells above the cell's normal electrical-noise levels.5

The second reason why the study is not definitive is the low numbers of children in the higher exposure categories. As the UKCCS investigators state, only 2·3% of their controls had been exposed to magnetic fields over 0·2 µT. Although this percentage is similar to that in Germany (2%),6 in the US study7 it was 11·4% and in the Canadian study8 15·4%. This difference reflects, in part, the line voltage in North America of about 110 V, and in Europe of 220 V. Thus for the same power consumption North Americans use twice as much current as Europeans do, and so are exposed to about double the magnetic-field strength. Another factor influencing the level of magnetic-field exposure between the two continents relates to how the power is distributed--for example, how electrical wiring is configured in homes and how the currents are earthed. Whatever the explanation, the small numbers in the higher exposure categories mean that the UKCCS provide evidence only for exposures of up to 0·2 µT.

The third reason is that the small numbers of cases and controls in the higher exposure categories are unlikely to significantly affect the results of previous meta-analyses and reviews suggesting a weak link between power-frequency magnetic-field exposure and childhood leukaemia. 1-3 An analysis, funded by the European Union, which includes the UKCCS, is near completion.

Today's Lancet also carries a research letter reporting some new data from a previously published New Zealand study .9 However, the study has the same inadequacies as the UKCCS.

A major childhood leukaemia study is being done by Japan's National Institute of Environmental Studies. This study will take account of transients in the assessment of exposure to magnetic fields. 1500 cases (1000 leukaemia and 500 brain tumours) and a similar number of matching controls will be recruited. Because Japan is highly industrialised, the study is expected to have large numbers in the high-exposure groups. This study, in conjunction with those being done in Germany and Italy, may be one of the last hopes of finally resolving the vexing issue of whether there is truly an increased risk of childhood cancer from exposure to magnetic fields or whether the weak association is occurring by chance.

*Michael H Repacholi, Anders Ahlbom

*Division of Occupational and Environmental Health, World Health Organization, CH-1211, Geneva 27, Switzerland; and National Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Notes to above:

1 National Research Council. Possible health effects of exposure to residential electric and magnetic fields. National Research Council, Washington: National Academy Press, 1996.

2 Repacholi MH, Greenebaum B. Interaction of static and extremely low frequency electric and magnetic fields with living systems: health effects and research needs. Bioelectromagnetics 1999; 20: 133-60.

3 Portier CJ, Wolfe MS (eds). National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Working Group Report. Assessment of health effects from exposure to power-line frequency electric and magnetic fields (NIH publication no. 98-3981). Research Triangle Park: NIEHS, 1998.

4 McKinlay AF, Repacholi MH, eds. Exposure metrics and dosimetry for EMF epidemiology: Proceedings of an International Workshop held at the National Radiological Protection Board, Chilton, UK, Sept 7-9, 1998. Radiation Protection Dosimetry 1999; 83 (1-2): 1-194.

5 Electric Power Research Institute. Residential transient magnetic field research: interim report, project RP2966-07 (report TR-103470). Palo Alto, California: EPRI, 1994.

6 Michaelis J, Shuz J, Meinert R, et al. Combined risk estimates for two German population-based case-control studies on residential magnetic fields and childhood acute leukemia Epidemiology 1998; 9: 92-94.

7 Linet MS, Hatch EE, Kleinerman RA, et al. Residential exposure to magnetic fields and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children. N Engl J Med 1997; 337: 1-7.

8 McBride ML, Gallagher RP, Thériault G, et al. Power-frequency electric and magnetic fields and risk of childhood leukemia in Canada. Am J Epidemiol 1999; 149: 831-42.

9 Dockerty JD, Elwood JM, Skegg DCG, Herbison GP. Electromagn Electromagnetic field exposures and childhood cancers in NeCancer Causes Control 1998; 9: 299-300 (erratum in 1999; 10: 641)

Forwarded by:

Alasdair Philips,   BSc(Eng), DAgE, MIAgE
Director, UK Powerwatch, (
EMC Engineer and EMF-bioeffects researcher

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