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Am J Epidemiol. 1996 Jul 15;144(2):150-60.

Leukemia following occupational exposure to 60-Hz electric and magnetic fields among Ontario electric utility workers.

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Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


In a nested case-control study of 1,484 cancer cases and 2,179 matched controls from a cohort of 31,543 Ontario Hydro male employees, the authors evaluated associations of cancer risk with electric field exposure and reevaluated the previously reported findings for magnetic fields. Pensioners were followed from January 1, 1970, and active workers (including those who left the corporation) from January 1, 1973, with both groups followed through December 31, 1988. Exposures to electric and magnetic fields and to potential occupational confounders were estimated through job exposure matrices. Odds ratios were elevated for hematopoietic malignancies with cumulative electric field exposure. After adjustment, the odds ratio for leukemia in the upper tertile was 4.45 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01-19.7). Odds ratios were also elevated for acute nonlymphoid leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and chronic lymphoid leukemia. For cumulative magnetic field exposure, there were similar elevations that fell with adjustment. Evaluation of the combined effect of electric and magnetic fields for leukemia showed significant elevations of risk for high exposure to both, with a dose-response relation for increasing exposure to electric fields and an inconsistent effect for magnetic fields. There was some evidence of a nonsignificant association for brain cancer and benign brain tumors with magnetic fields. For lung cancer, the odds ratio for high exposure to electric and magnetic fields was 1.84 (95% CI 0.69-4.94).

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