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Courier Mail, 17/10/07

Powerline link to cancer firms

Miércoles 17 de octubre de 2007 · 1131 lecturas

Courier Mail, 17/10/07

Powerline link to cancer firms

October 17, 2007 12:00am

ADULTS who live within 300m of high voltage powerlines in the first five years of their lives may have a five-fold increased risk of developing blood cancers.

Controversial Australian research has renewed the debate about whether prolonged exposure to electromagnetic fields can cause cancer.

Researchers studied more than 850 Tasmanians who had been diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma and related conditions between 1972 and 1980 and compared them with people randomly selected from the electoral roll.

They found those who lived close to high voltage power lines during their first 15 years of life had a significantly increased risk of developing blood cancers as adults.

Lead researcher Ray Lowenthal, of the University of Tasmania, said the more exposure people had, the greater the risk.

"It’s a bit like cigarette smoking. The more cigarettes you smoke, the more likely you are to get cancer," he said.

Professor Lowenthal, the Royal Hobart Hospital’s medical oncology director, said he was surprised by the findings which were published recently in the Internal Medicine Journal.

"This has been a controversial area for nearly 30 years," he said after addressing the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand’s annual scientific meeting on the Gold Coast yesterday.

"I expected we would find no link. But we seem to have found a definite link associated with residence as a child.

"It seems to be a strong link. The younger the child, the more susceptible they seem to be. But you can’t be alarmist about it. One study like this doesn’t prove an association by any means."

Professor Lowenthal called for more research into the area.

Although studies in mice and rats had found no association between exposure to electromagnetic fields and cancer, he said the research needed to be repeated using newborn animals.

"As far as I know the studies that have been done up until now have not been on newborn mice and rats, it’s been on adults," Professor Lowenthal said. "We need to look at newborns to see if they’re particularly susceptible."

The conference continues today.

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