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Sci Total Environ. 2009 Jan 15;407(3):1218-23. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.08.012. Epub 2008 Sep 19.

Extremely low frequency-magnetic fields (ELF-EMF) occupational exposure and natural killer activity in peripheral blood lymphocytes.

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  • 1Chair of Occupational Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via Campi 287, 41100, Modena (MO), Italy. f.gobba@unimore.it

Abstract

Extremely Low Frequency-Magnetic Fields (ELF-MF) are possible carcinogens to humans and some data suggest that they can act as promoters or progressors. Since NK cells play a major role in the control of cancer development, an adverse effect on ELF-MF on NK function has been hypothesized. We examined NK activity in 52 workers exposed to different levels of ELF-MF in various activities. Individual exposure was monitored during 3 complete work-shifts using personal dosimeters. Environmental exposure was also monitored. ELF-MF levels in the workers were expressed as Time-Weighted Average (TWA) values. NK activity was measured in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL). In the whole group the median occupational TWA was 0.21 microT. According to the TWA levels, workers were classified as low exposed (26 subjects, TWA < or =0.2 microT) and higher exposed workers (26 subjects; TWA >0.2 microT). In higher exposed workers, we observed a trend to reduce NK activity compared to low exposed, but the difference was not significant. Then we selected a subgroup of highest exposed workers (12 subjects; TWA >1 microT); no difference was observed between low and highest exposed subjects in the main personal variables. Considering both E:T ratios from 12:1 to 50:1 and Lytic Units, a significant reduction in NK activity was observed in the highest exposed workers compared to the low exposed. Multivariate analysis showed a significant negative correlation between exposure and LU, while no correlation was evidenced with other personal characteristics. ELF-MF are considered possible carcinogens, and existing data suggest that they can act as promoters. Due to the role of NK activity in host defence against cancer, the results obtained in this study in workers exposed to ELF-MF levels exceeding 1 microT are in agreement with this hypothesis, and support the need for further investigation in this field.

PMID:
18804846
DOI:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.08.012
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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