Residential magnetic field exposure and childhood brain cancer: a meta-analysis.
ABSTRACT We conducted a meta-analysis of studies on magnetic field exposure and childhood brain tumors to evaluate homogeneity in the results, to examine reasons for heterogeneity, and to derive a summary effect estimate. Comparison of results from studies of childhood brain cancer and childhood leukemia may also help to assess the potential for selection bias in childhood leukemia studies.
We included results from 13 studies. Using an inverse variance-weighted method, summary effect estimates were calculated separately for distance, wire codes, and measured and calculated magnetic fields. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to assess the influence of individual studies, the potential for selection bias, and the possibility of publication bias.
With the exception of wire-code studies, results were compatible with homogeneity across studies. The summary odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) were 0.88 (0.57-1.37) for distance <50 m and 1.14 (0.78-1.67) for calculated or measured magnetic fields above 0.2 microT. For measured or calculated exposures above 0.3 or 0.4 microT, the summary odds ratio was 1.68 (0.83-3.43), with no differences by method of exposure assessment. No single study had a substantial effect on the summary estimates. There was no indication of publication bias.
With the exception of high cut-point analyses (0.3/0.4 microT), where the possibility of a moderate risk increase cannot be excluded, no increase in childhood brain cancer risk was evident for any of the exposure metrics.
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ABSTRACT: We obtained original individual data from 15 studies of magnetic fields or wire codes and childhood leukemia, and we estimated magnetic field exposure for subjects with sufficient data to do so. Summary estimates from 12 studies that supplied magnetic field measures exhibited little or no association of magnetic fields with leukemia when comparing 0.1-0.2 and 0.2-0.3 microtesla (microT) categories with the 0-0.1 microT category, but the Mantel-Haenszel summary odds ratio comparing >0.3 microT to 0-0.1 microT was 1.7 (95% confidence limits = 1.2, 2.3). Similar results were obtained using covariate adjustment and spline regression. The study-specific relations appeared consistent despite the numerous methodologic differences among the studies. The association of wire codes with leukemia varied considerably across studies, with odds ratio estimates for very high current vs low current configurations ranging from 0.7 to 3.0 (homogeneity P = 0.005). Based on a survey of household magnetic fields, an estimate of the U.S. population attributable fraction of childhood leukemia associated with residential exposure is 3% (95% confidence limits = -2%, 8%). Our results contradict the idea that the magnetic field association with leukemia is less consistent than the wire code association with leukemia, although analysis of the four studies with both measures indicates that the wire code association is not explained by measured fields. The results also suggest that appreciable magnetic field effects, if any, may be concentrated among relatively high and uncommon exposures, and that studies of highly exposed populations would be needed to clarify the relation of magnetic fields to childhood leukemia.Epidemiology 12/2000; 11(6):624-34. · 5.74 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Exposures to extremely low-frequency electric and magnetic fields (EMF) emanating from the generation, transmission, and use of electricity are a ubiquitous part of modern life. Concern about potential adverse health effects was initially brought to prominence by an epidemiologic report two decades ago from Denver on childhood cancer. We reviewed the now voluminous epidemiologic literature on EMF and risks of chronic disease and conclude the following: a) The quality of epidemiologic studies on this topic has improved over time and several of the recent studies on childhood leukemia and on cancer associated with occupational exposure are close to the limit of what can realistically be achieved in terms of size of study and methodological rigor. b) Exposure assessment is a particular difficulty of EMF epidemiology, in several respects: i) The exposure is imperceptible, ubiquitous, has multiple sources, and can vary greatly over time and short distances. ii) The exposure period of relevance is before the date at which measurements can realistically be obtained and of unknown duration and induction period. iii) The appropriate exposure metric is not known and there are no biological data from which to impute it. c) In the absence of experimental evidence and given the methodological uncertainties in the epidemiologic literature, there is no chronic disease for which an etiological relation to EMF can be regarded as established. d) There has been a large body of high quality data for childhood cancer, and also for adult leukemia and brain tumor in relation to occupational exposure. Among all the outcomes evaluated in epidemiologic studies of EMF, childhood leukemia in relation to postnatal exposures above 0.4 microT is the one for which there is most evidence of an association. The relative risk has been estimated at 2.0 (95% confidence limit: 1.27-3.13) in a large pooled analysis. This is unlikely to be due to chance but, may be, in part, due to bias. This is difficult to interpret in the absence of a known mechanism or reproducible experimental support. In the large pooled analysis only 0.8% of all children were exposed above 0.4 microT. Further studies need to be designed to test specific hypotheses such as aspects of selection bias or exposure. On the basis of epidemiologic findings, evidence shows an association of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with occupational EMF exposure although confounding is a potential explanation. Breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and suicide and depression remain unresolved.Environmental Health Perspectives 01/2002; 109 Suppl 6:911-33. · 7.26 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Concern with health effects of extremely low frequency magnetic fields has been raised by epidemiologic studies of childhood cancer in relation to proximity to electric power distribution lines. This case-control study was designed to assess the relation between residential exposure to magnetic fields and the development of childhood cancer. Eligible cases consisted of all 356 residents of the five-county 1970 Denver, Colorado Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area aged 0-14 years who were diagnosed with any form of cancer between 1976 and 1983. Controls were selected by random digit dialing to approximate the case distribution by age, sex, and telephone exchange area. Exposure was characterized through in-home electric and magnetic field measurements under low and high power use conditions and wire configuration codes, a surrogate measure of long-term magnetic field levels. Measured magnetic fields under low power use conditions had a modest association with cancer incidence; a cutoff score of 2.0 milligauss resulted in an odds ratio of 1.4 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.6-2.9) for total cancers and somewhat larger odds ratios (ORs) for leukemias (OR = 1.9), lymphomas (OR = 2.2), and soft tissue sarcomas (OR = 3.3). Neither magnetic fields (OR = 1.0) nor electric fields (OR = 0.9) under high power use conditions were related to total cancers. Wire codes associated with higher magnetic fields were more common among case than control homes. The odds ratio to contrast very high and high to very low, low, and buried wire codes was 1.5 (95% CI = 1.0-2.3) for total cases, with consistency across cancer subgroups except for brain cancer (OR = 2.0) and lymphomas (OR = 0.8). Contrasts of very high to buried wire code homes produced larger, less precise odds ratios of 2.3 for total cases, 2.9 for leukemias, and 3.3 for lymphomas. Adjusted estimates for measured fields and wire codes did not differ from crude results, indicating an absence of confounding. Limitations to the study are nonresponse (especially for field measurements), differential mobility of cases and controls, and a presumably nondifferential exposure misclassification from the use of imperfect surrogates for long-term magnetic field exposure history. In spite of these concerns, the results encourage further examination of the carcinogenic potential from this form of nonionizing radiation.American Journal of Epidemiology 08/1988; 128(1):21-38. · 4.78 Impact Factor