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Environ Health Perspect. 1997 Dec;105 Suppl 6:1565-8.

Radiofrequency field exposure and cancer: what do the laboratory studies suggest?

Author information

  • 1Office of Global and Integrated Environmental Health, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. repacholim@who.ch

Abstract

Significant concern has been raised about possible health effects from exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields, especially after the rapid introduction of mobile telecommunications systems. Parents are especially concerned with the possibility that children might develop cancer after exposure to the RF emissions from mobile telephone base stations erected in or near schools. These questions have followed scientific reports suggesting that residence near high voltage power lines may to be associated with an increased childhood leukemia risk. Epidemiologic studies have been plagued by poor RF exposure assessment and differences in methodology. There are no high-quality epidemiologic studies that can be used to evaluate health risks from RF exposure. Laboratory studies in this area have been somewhat confusing. Some animal studies suggest that RF fields accelerate the development of sarcoma colonies in the lung, mammary tumors, skin tumors, hepatomas, and sarcomas. A substantial RF-induced increase in lymphoma incidence in transgenic mice exposed for up to 18 months has also been reported. In contrast, other studies have not found carcinogenic effects. These conflicting results indicate the need for more well-conducted studies on laboratory animals, supplemented with high-quality in vitro studies to identify effects that need further research in vivo, and to characterize any acting mechanisms, especially at low RF field levels. This paper provides a review of the laboratory studies and indicates what conclusions about RF-induced cancer can be drawn.

PMID:
9467083
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1469962
Free PMC Article
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