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Original research
Residential extremely low frequency magnetic fields and skin cancer
  1. Muhammad Waseem Khan1,2,
  2. Jukka Juutilainen1,
  3. Jonne Naarala1,
  4. Päivi Roivainen1,3
  1. 1 Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
  2. 2 Department of Biotechnology, Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences, Quetta, Pakistan
  3. 3 Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK), Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Päivi Roivainen, Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio 70200, Finland; paivi.roivainen{at}


Objective Photoinduced radical reactions have a fundamental role in skin cancer induced by ultraviolet radiation, and changes in radical reactions have also been proposed as a mechanism for the putative carcinogenic effects of extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields (MFs). We assessed the association of melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma with residential MF exposure.

Methods All cohort members had lived in buildings with indoor transformer stations (TSs) during the period from 1971 to 2016. MF exposure was assessed based on apartment location. Out of the 225 492 individuals, 8617 (149 291 person-years of follow-up) living in apartments next to TSs were considered as exposed, while individuals living on higher floors of the same buildings were considered as referents. Associations between MF exposure and skin cancers were examined using Cox proportional hazard models.

Results The HR for MF exposure ≥6 month was 1.05 (95% CI 0.72 to 1.53) for melanoma and 0.94 (95% CI 0.55 to 1.61) for squamous cell carcinoma. Analysis of the age at the start of residence showed an elevated HR (2.55, 95% CI 1.15 to 5.69) for melanoma among those who lived in the apartments when they were less than 15 years old. This finding was based on seven exposed cases.

Conclusions The results of this study suggested an association between childhood ELF MF exposure and adult melanoma. This is in agreement with previous findings suggesting that the carcinogenic effects of ELF MFs may be associated particularly with childhood exposure.

  • melanoma
  • electromagnetic fields
  • environmental Exposure

Data availability statement

Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available.

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Data availability statement

Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available.

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  • Contributors MWK, JJ and PR designed the study, acquired funding and analysed the data. PR acquired the data. MWK and JJ drafted the manuscript. All authors critically reviewed the draft for important intellectual content and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding This work was supported by University of Eastern Finland's Doctoral Programme on Environmental Physics, Health and Biology and Higher Education Commission Pakistan Overseas Scholarship (to MWK). Award/grant numbers not applicable.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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