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EMF Studies

29 February 2016

Power-Frequency EMFs Promote Cancer in Massive Animal Study

Power-Frequency EMFs Promote Cancer in Massive Animal Study
microwavenews.com, 27 February 2016

Italians Call for a “Reevaluation of the Safety of Non-Ionizing Radiation”

Once again, power-frequency magnetic fields have been found to act as a cancer promoter.

Eighteen months ago an international team led by Elisabeth Cardis in Spain showed cancer promotion in workers exposed to chemicals and extremely low frequency (ELF) EMFs. Now an Italian team has found essentially the same promotional effect in animals exposed to ionizing radiation and ELF EMFs.

Rats, which received a single low-dose of gamma radiation early in life and were exposed to magnetic fields for their entire lifetime, developed higher than expected rates of three different types of cancer: Breast cancer and leukemia/lymphoma, as well as an extremely rare and obscure tumor, called malignant schwannoma of the heart.

The new study, which was carried out at the Ramazzini Institute in Bologna, Italy, is part of the most ambitious EMF animal project ever attempted. Future reports from the same group will describe the action of EMFs combined with a number of other cancer agents, specifically formaldehyde and aflatoxin, in addition to EMFs alone. Together, all these experiments involve more than 10,000 rats at a cost in excess of 5 million euros ($5-6 million). The EMF–gamma radiation study had more than 650 exposed rats and 1,001 controls.

“We have confirmed the old epidemiological observations of Milham, Wertheimer and Matanoski regarding the increased risk of lymphoma/leukemia and mammary cancers, as well as the more recent study by Cardis,” said Morando Soffritti, the director of the project, in an interview with Microwave News. Soffritti was referring to the pioneering work of Sam Milham, Nancy Wertheimer and Geneveive Matanoski from 1979 through the 1990’s.

Magnetic fields can “enhance the effects of a well-known carcinogen,” said Fiorella Belpoggi, the scientific director of the Institute, in an e-mail exchange. Soffritti, the former scientific director, is now the honorary president of the Institute and continues to work on this and other projects. Their paper will appear in an upcoming issue of the International Journal of Radiation Biology and is now posted on the journal’s Web site.

The Ramazzini researchers did not mince words about the implications of the new findings. In the “Conclusions” section of their abstract, they wrote just one sentence: “These results call for a reevaluation of the safety of non-ionizing radiation.”

The new animal results “lend support to our recent findings on ELF and brain tumor risk,” said Cardis of the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) in Barcelona. Her project, known as the INTEROCC study, investigated brain cancer among workers exposed to chemicals and EMFs (see our report: “EMF Cancer Promotion: An Old Idea Makes a Strong Comeback”).

Soffritti declined to describe the findings of the EMF–formaldehyde animal experiment, saying only that they has found some “very interesting results regarding public health” and that a paper has been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. A number of other publications, including a commentary, are also in the pipeline.

The Ramazzini Experiment

The Ramazzini team followed what is commonly known as an initiation-promotion protocol. Male and female Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed in their mothers’ wombs and then for the rest of their lives to 50 Hz magnetic fields at an intensity of either 20μT or 1,000μT (200 mG or 10 G). At the age of six weeks, they each received a single 0.1Gy dose of gamma radiation, a known cancer agent. (They say that such a human exposure to ionizing radiation, from a set of CT scans for example, “cannot be called unusual.”)

Here are the key findings in the researchers’ own words:

(a) A significant dose-related increased incidence of mammary adenocarcinomas [breast cancer] in males and females in particular in males exposed to 20μT plus 0.1Gy and in females exposed to 1,000μT plus 0.1 Gy;

(b) In males a significant dose-related increased incidence of heart malignant schwannomas with a significant increase among males exposed to 20μT plus 0.1Gy [statisticallly significant] and to 1,000μT plus 0.1 Gy; and

(c) A significant increased incidence of hematopoietic neoplasias [leukemia and lymphoma] in males treated at 1,000μT plus 0.1 Gy.

The Italian team expressed surprise at the observed excess of breast tumors in male rats. “In our historical controls, mammary cancer in male rats is a very rare tumor,” they wrote.

The link between EMFs and breast cancer in men was first described by Matanoski of Johns Hopkins University more than 25 years ago. Others later reported similar findings (see MWN,J/A90, p.1 and MWN, M/A91, p.5). A recent meta-analysis of ten studies of male breast cancer and EMFs found support for the association.

Yet, members of the EMF establishment have contested the hypothesis that there may be a link between EMFs and breast cancer, male or female. One notable critic is Maria Feychting of the Karolinska Institute who serves as the vice chair of ICNIRP. She has called for an end of all such studies (see our “The Shrill Cry To Stop EMF Research”). ICNIRP has never accepted the possibility that there may be any type of cancer risk —to the breast, brain or blood— from EMFs or RF radiation.

Some Sordid History on EMFs and the NIEHS

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