Meta-analysis of extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields and cancer risk: a pooled analysis of epidemiologic studies

[Metanalisi che racchiude 42 studi sulla esposizione alle basse frequenze (inclusi elettrodotti) ed il rischio di sviluppare cancro.
I ricercatori hanno trovato una correlazione statisticamente significativa soprattutto in  ambito residenziale e
negli studi condotti in Area Noramericana.
Ragioni di tipo metodologico potrebbero essere alla base delle differenze tra gli studi.

On Environment International 2015, Volume 88, March 2016, Pages 36–43
doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2015.12.012. [Epub ahead of print]

Yemao ZhangaJinsheng LaibGuoran RuanbChen ChenbDao Wen Wangb

a High Voltage Research Institute, China Electric Power Research Institute, Wuhan, People’s Republic of China
b Department of Internal Medicine and the Institute of Hypertension, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, People’s Republic of China


Article history
Received: 24 September 2015
Revised: 23 November 2015
Accepted: 10 December 2015
Available: online 15 December 2015


ELF-EMFCancer riskMeta-analysis


• A significant association between ELF-EMF exposure and cancer risk was identified.
• Subgroup analysis revealed increased risk only in North America, especially in United States.
• However, the data from individual European country was contradicted with each other.
• Increased risk was only observed in residential exposure or interview-based surveys.
• Device measured studies obtained no significant association in overall effects.


Studies have suggested that extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) may affect physiological functions in animal models. However, epidemiologic studies investigating the association of ELF-EMF with the susceptibility to cancer yield contradictory results. In this comprehensive analysis, we conducted a search for case–control surveys regarding the associations of ELF-EMF and cancer susceptibility in electronic databases. A total of 42 studies involving 13,259 cases and 100,882 controls were retrieved. Overall, increased susceptibility to cancer was identified in the ELF-EMF exposed population (OR = 1.08, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.15, P = 0.02). In the stratified analyses, increased risk was found in North America (OR = 1.10; 95% CI: 1.02, 1.20, P = 0.02), especially the United States (OR = 1.10; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.20, P = 0.03). However, studies from Europe contradict these results. Moreover, a higher risk was found to be statistically significantly associated with the residential exposed population (OR = 1.18; 95% CI: 1.02, 1.37, P = 0.03). Furthermore, an increased cancer risk was found in interview-based surveys (OR = 1.16; 95% CI: 1.00, 1.35, P = 0.04). In device measurement-based studies, a slight increased risk was found only in premenopausal breast cancer (OR = 1.23; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.49, P = 0.04). Our meta-analysis suggests that ELF-EMFs are associated with cancer risk, mainly in the United States and in residential exposed populations. Methodological challenges might explain the differences among studies.