EMF Health-effects Research

Incidence of cancer in the vicinity of Korean AM radio transmitters.

Ha M, Lim HJ, Cho SH, Choi HD, Cho KY

Arch Environ Health. 58(12):756-762, 2003

Results of various studies have indicated a potential association between exposures to electrical and/or magnetic fields and risks of various cancers.

The authors used a cross-sectional ecological study design to investigate such a potential association. In areas proximate to 42 amplitude modulated (AM) radio transmitters, 11 high-power study sites (i.e., areas exposed to 100-1500-kW transmission power) and 31 low-power study sites (i.e., areas exposed to 50-kW transmission power) were identified.

    The incidence of cancer within a 2-km radius of each transmitter was obtained from
  • (a) Korean medical-insurance data for the years 1993 through 1996,
  • (b) population census data for the year 1995, and
  • (c) resident registration data for the year 1995.

The authors calculated age-standardized rate ratios for total cancer, leukemia, malignant lymphoma, brain cancer, and breast cancer, and compared the incidence of cancer within 2 km of the high-power transmitters vs. the incidence within 2 km of the low-power transmitters. Four control areas for each high-power transmitter were also selected. The control areas were located in the same, or nearest adjacent, province as the high-power sites, but were at least 2 km from any of the transmitters.

Indirect standardized observed/expected ratios for the high-power sites vs. control areas were calculated for each transmitter separately, and for 4 transmitter groupings defined by power level (i.e., 100 kW, 250 kW, 500 kW, and 1500 kW).

The authors found no significant increase in age-standardized rate ratios of cancers for high-power vs. low-power sites, with the exceptions of total cancer and of brain cancer in women. Among the 11 high-power sites, there were significantly increased incidences of leukemia in 2 areas and of brain cancer in 1 area.

Future studies should incorporate additional detailed exposure assessments and a strong analytical study design to explore the possible association between radiofrequency radiation from AM radio transmitters and cancer.

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