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Occupational extremely low-frequency magnetic field exposure and selected cancer outcomes in a prospective Dutch cohort

Abstract

Purpose

To investigate the association between exposure to occupational extremely low-frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF) and the risk of a priori selected cancer outcomes within the prospective Netherlands Cohort Study.

Methods

120,852 men and women aged 55–69 years at time of enrollment in 1986 were followed up (17.3 years) for incident lung, breast and brain cancer, and hemato-lymphoproliferative malignancies. Information on occupational history and potential confounders such as sex, age, smoking, alcohol use, and attained educational level were collected at baseline through a self-administered questionnaire. Occupational ELF-MF exposure was assigned with a job-exposure matrix. Using a case-cohort approach, associations with cancer incidence were analyzed with Cox regression stratified by sex, using three exposure metrics: (1) ever had a job with low or high exposure to ELF-MF versus background, (2) duration of exposure, and (3) cumulative exposure.

Results

None of the exposure metrics showed an effect on incidence for lung, breast, and brain cancer, nor any of the assessed subtypes in men and women. Of the hemato-lymphoproliferative malignancies in men, ever high exposed to ELF-MF showed a significant association with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) [hazard ratio (HR) 2.15; 95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.06–4.35] and follicular lymphoma (FL) (HR 2.78; 95 % CI 1.00–5.77). Cumulative exposure to ELF-MF showed a significant, positive association with FL but not AML among men.

Conclusions

In this large prospective cohort study, we found some indications of an increased risk of AML and FL among men with occupational ELF-MF exposure. These findings warrant further investigation.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by The Netherlands Organization for Health Research (ZonMW) within the program Electromagnetic Fields and Health Research under Grant Numbers 85200001 and 85800001.

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Correspondence to Tom Koeman.

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Koeman, T., van den Brandt, P.A., Slottje, P. et al. Occupational extremely low-frequency magnetic field exposure and selected cancer outcomes in a prospective Dutch cohort. Cancer Causes Control 25, 203–214 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10552-013-0322-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10552-013-0322-x

Keywords

  • Prospective cohort
  • Breast cancer
  • Extremely low-frequency magnetic fields
  • Lung cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma