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Magnetic Fields and Risk of Childhood Cancer

Concerns about electromagnetic fields (EMF) causing childhood leukemia have been investigated since the 1980’s. 

Two of our CLIC partners from Italy recently published articles examining the effects of exposure to magnetic fields on the risk of childhood leukemia. Drs. Marco Vinceti and Tommaso Filippini at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy used a case-control study and geographic information system (GIS) data to determine whether different sources and intensities of magnetic fields were associated with increased risk of cancer in children. 

The researchers tested the families’ proximity to high-voltage power lines and transformer stations. For high-voltage power lines, children of all ages who lived within 100 meters from the power line were at higher risk of childhood leukemia than those who lived further away (Article 1). The investigators discovered that living close to transformer stations was not significantly related to increased risk of childhood leukemia for most ages of children, although there was some risk for children older than five years (Article 2). 

This study is important for helping CLIC answer the question “Why do kids get cancer?” CLIC is hoping to use more GIS data in the future to look at the impact of environmental exposures on childhood cancers. For more information on the Italian study, read the articles below. For more work from CLIC members, visit our research page

Article 1 Title: Residential exposure to magnetic fields from transformer stations and risk of childhood leukemia

Authors: Malavolti M, Malagoli C, Wise LA, Poli M, Notari B, Taddei I, Fabbi S, Teggi S, Balboni E, Pancaldi A, Palazzi G, Vinceti M, Filippini T.

Published In: Environ Res. 2024 Mar 15;245:118043. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.118043. Epub 2023 Dec 24. PMID: 38145739.

Article 2 Title: Residential exposure to magnetic fields from high-voltage power lines and risk of childhood leukemia

Authors: Malagoli C, Malavolti M, Wise LA, Balboni E, Fabbi S, Teggi S, Palazzi G, Cellini M, Poli M, Zanichelli P, Notari B, Cherubini A, Vinceti M, Filippini T. 

Published In: . Environ Res. 2023 Sep 1;232:116320. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.116320. Epub 2023 Jun 2. PMID: 37271435.