Aims: To investigate whether the risk of acute leukaemia among adults is associated with occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields.
Methods: Probable occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields at higher than typical residential levels was investigated among 764 patients diagnosed with acute leukaemia during 1991–96 and 1510 sex and age matched controls. A job exposure matrix was applied to the self reported employment histories to determine whether or not a subject was exposed to electromagnetic fields. Risks were assessed using conditional logistic regression for a matched analysis.
Results: Study subjects considered probably ever exposed to electromagnetic fields at work were not at increased risk of acute leukaemia compared to those considered never exposed. Generally, no associations were observed on stratification by sex, leukaemia subtype, number of years since exposure stopped, or occupation; there was no evidence of a dose-response effect using increasing number of years exposed. However, relative to women considered never exposed, a significant excess of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia was observed among women probably exposed to electromagnetic fields at work that remained increased irrespective of time prior to diagnosis or job ever held.
Conclusion: This large population based case-control study found little evidence to support an association between occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields and acute leukaemia. While an excess of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia among women was observed, it is unlikely that occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields was responsible, given that increased risks remained during periods when exposure above background levels was improbable.
- electromagnetic fields
- acute leukaemia
- case-control study
- ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
- AML, acute myeloid leukaemia
- CI, confidence interval
- GP, general practitioner
- OR, odds ratio
- SOC, 1990 Standard Occupational Classification
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