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# Posted: 31 Oct 2006 05:36

Research from University of California, Department of Epidemiology provides new data about leukemia epidemiology

Researchers detail in "Public health impact of extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields," new data in leukemia. According to recent research from the United States, "The association between exposure to extremely low-frequency electric and magnetic fields (ELF) and childhood leukemia has led to the classification of magnetic fields by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a "possible human carcinogen." This association is regarded as the critical effect in risk assessment. Creating effective policy in light of widespread exposure and the undisputed value of safe, reliable, and economic electricity to society is difficult and requires estimates of the potential public health impact and associated uncertainties. Although a causal relationship between magnetic fields and childhood leukemia has not been established, we present estimates of the possible pubic health impact using attributable fractions to provide a potentially useful input into policy analysis under different scenarios."

"Using ELF exposure distributions from various countries and dose-response functions from two pooled analyses, we calculate country-specific and worldwide estimates of attributable fractions (AFs) and attributable cases. Even given a wide range of assumptions, we find that the AF remains <10%, with point estimates ranging from <1% to about 4%. For
small countries with low exposure, the number of attributable cases is less than one extra case per year. Worldwide the range is from 100 to 2,400 cases possibly attributable to ELF exposure. The fraction of childhood leukemia cases possibly attributable to ELF exposure across the globe appears to be small," wrote L. Kheifets and colleagues, University of California, Department of Epidemiology.

The researchers concluded: "There remain, however, a number of uncertainties in these AF estimates, particularly in the exposure distributions."

Kheifets and colleagues published their study in Environmental Health Perspectives (Public health impact of extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2006;114(10):1532-7).

For additional information, contact L. Kheifets, University of California, Dept. of Epidemiology, School of Public Health,
Los Angeles, California 90095-1772 U.S.

Publisher contact information for the journal Environmental Health Perspectives is: Us Dept. Health Human Sciences Public Health Science, National Institute Health, National Institute Environmental Health Sciences, PO Box 12233, Research Triangle Pk, NC 27709-2233, USA.

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