Objectives The association between occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) and the risk of uveal melanoma was investigated in a case–control study in nine European countries.
Methods Incident cases of uveal melanoma and population as well as hospital controls were included and frequency matched by country, 5-year birth cohort and sex. Subjects were asked whether they had worked close to high-voltage electrical transmission installations, computer screens and various electrical machines, or in complex electrical environments. Measurements of two Scandinavian job–exposure matrices were applied to estimate lifelong cumulative EMF exposure. Unconditional logistic regression analyses, stratified by sex and eye colour were calculated, adjusting for several potential confounders.
Results 293 patients with uveal melanoma and 3198 control subjects were interviewed. Women exposed to electrical transmission installations showed elevated risks (OR 5.81, 95% CI 1.72 to 19.66). Positive associations with exposure to control rooms were seen among men and women, but most risk increases were restricted to subjects with dark iris colour. Application of published EMF measurements revealed stronger risk increases among women compared to men. Again, elevated risks were restricted to subjects with dark eye colour.
Conclusion Although based on a low prevalence of exposure to potential occupational sources of EMF, our data indicate that exposed dark-eyed women may be at particular risk for uveal melanoma.
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Funding Funding was supplied by the European Commission, DGXII, BIOMED research programme grants no BMH1 CT 93-1630 and ERB CIPD CT 940285, and the following national funding agencies. Denmark: The Strategic Environment Programme, grant no 92.01.015.7-06; the Danish Epidemiology Science Centre whose activities are financed by a grant from the Danish National Research Foundation. France: Ligue Nationale contre le Cancer, Fédération Nationale des Centres de Lutte contre le Cancer, Fondation de France, contract no 955368; Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) contract Réseau en Santé Publique no 4R006A; French Ministry of the Environment, contract no 237.01.94.40182. Germany: Federal Ministry for Education, Science, Research and Technology (BMBF), grant no 01-HP-684/8. Italy: The Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC), Special Project Oncology, Compagnia di San Paolo/FIRMS, MURST, Piedmont Region. Spain: Fondo de Investigación de la Sanitarie, Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo, Unidad de Investigación Clinico-Epidemiológica, Hospital Dr. Peset, Generalitat Valenciana (FISS. 95/0044-01, 96/0043-01); Departmento de Sanidad y Consumo, Gobierno Vasco; Fondo de Investigación de la Sanitaria, Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo, Ayuda a la Investigación del Departamento de Salud del Gobierno de Navarra. Sweden: Swedish Council for Work Life Research; Research Foundation of the Department of Oncology in Umeå; Swedish Society of Medicine; Lund University Hospital Research Foundation; Gunnar, Arvid and Elisabeth Nilsson Cancer Foundation; Örebro County Council Research Committee, Örebro Medical Center Research Foundation; John and Augusta Persson Foundation for Scientific Medical Research; Berta Kamprad Foundation for Cancer Research.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the national ethics committees.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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