FEB - The Swedish Association for the ElectroSensitive | 27 Jan  1995


Cancer at home or at work, EMF epidemiological studies 

Cancer at home 

The first linking between cancer and electromagnetic fields began in 1979 when Nancy Wertheimer and Ed Leeper published their report on childhood deaths from cancer in Denver, Colorado, USA. The critics argued that the study was flawed, that the so called wiring codes omitted confounders such as socioeconomic status. 

Several studies followed in the early eighties, the most important published by Professor David Savitz 1988. He used better epidemiological methodology and got similar results, interestingly he did not see a direct correlation between contemporary spot field measurements and cancer risks. 

1991, a report from the University of Southern California, uncovered apparent links between childhood leukemia and household wiring configuration, the use of black-and-white television sets, and electric hair dryers. No statistically significant link was evident with 24-hour measurements of present-day strength. 

In 1992 a Swedish study directly tied field strength to risk, it showed triple the risk of childhood leukemia over 0.2uT compared to those between 0.1-0.2uT, and quadruple the risk with fields over 0.4uT. 

This table is only meant as an overview and a starting point! The cited relative risks are not to be trusted, please read the full original reports.

  • 1979 Denver, Colorado, USA, N. Wertheimer and E. Leeper, American Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 109, pp. 273-284. 

  • The criteria was the childhood death ratio of incidence in birth homes with hig- versus low-current configurations (the so called wiring-code). 
    They showed a double to threefold chance of developing leukemia, lymphoma, or CNS tumours for the children living near high-current wiring. 
  • 1986 Sweden, L. Tomenius, Scandinavion Journal of Work and Enviromental Health, Vol. 14, pp. 337-343. 

  • The creteria used was over 0.1uT at front door. 
    The relative risk was between 3 and 5. 
  • 1988 Denver, Colorado. D.A. Savitz et al. American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 128, pp. 21-38. 

  • Criteria used was over 0.25uT for all cancers, and high-current configurations to buried cables.
    He reported relative risks of about 0.7 and 3. 
  • 1990 Leeds, UK. A. Myers et al. British Journal of Cancer, Vol. 62, pp. 1008-10014. 

  • Critera was over 0.1uT. 
    Reported relative risk spanned 0.1 and 10. 
  • 1991 Loas Angeles, USA. S. London et al. American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 134, pp. 923-937. 

  • Criteria was over 0.268uT and homes with very high current configuration. 
    Relative risks about 0.6 and 3. 
  • 1993 Sweden. M. Feychting and A. Ahlbom, American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 138, pp. 467-481. 

  • Criteria used was over 0.2uT. 
    They reported risks ranging 0.9 and 7 for total cancers, and 0.5 upto about 2 for leukemia. 
  • 1993 Denmark. J.H. Ohlsen et al. British Medical Journal, Vol. 307, pp. 891-895. 

  • The used criteria was over 0.4uT. 
    The reported relative risk was between about 1 and 20. 
  • 1993 Finland. P.K. Verkasalo et al. British Medical Journal, Vol. 307, pp. 895-899. 

  • The criteria was close to powerlines. 
    Relative risks of about 0.6 and 5 was reported. 

Occupational studies 

(950127: Yet to be written...) 

Copyright 1995 by Clas Tegenfeldt, All rights reserved. Written 950127.