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Gynecol Oncol. 1998 Oct;71(1):64-71.

Selective potentiation of gynecologic cancer cell growth in vitro by electromagnetic fields.

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Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7295, USA.



Epidemiological data suggest that exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) may increase the risk of various cancers. We evaluated EMF effects on the in vitro growth response of human cell lines isolated from various reproductive tract tissues. We also assessed the effects of EMF on cisplatin- or paclitaxel-induced cytotoxicity.


Endometrial, ovarian, and prostate cancer cell lines as well as immortalized endometrial stromal cells and immortalized ovarian epithelial cells were exposed continually to EMF. Proliferation was assessed by the metabolic activity assay, MTT, direct cell counting, and anchorage-independent colony formation in soft agar. Cytotoxicity induced by cisplatin or paclitaxel was assessed using the MTT assay.


Continuous exposure to EMF at field strengths of 2 G enhanced proliferation of two human prostate and three endometrial, but only one ovarian, cancer cell lines. EMF enhanced metabolic activity of cancer cells within 96 h and increased absolute cell number (anchorage-dependent proliferation) and colony-forming efficiency (anchorage-independent proliferation) over sham-treated controls. EMF had no effect on cytotoxicity induced by the chemotherapeutic agents Taxol or cisplatin.


Continuous exposure to EMF can enhance growth rates of transformed cells for some human epithelial cancers. Cancer cells from the steroid sex hormone regulated tissues of endometrium and prostate appeared to be more responsive to EMF than cells from ovarian cancers.

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