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EMF Studies

17 July 2016

Increased Incidence of Thyroid Cancer in the Nordic Countries with Main Focus on Swedish Data

"We postulate that the whole increase cannot be attributed to better diagnostic procedures. Increasing exposure to ionizing radiation, e.g. medical computed tomography (CT) scans, and to RF-EMF (non-ionizing radiation) should be further studied." 

Increasing incidence of thyroid cancer in the Nordic countries with main focus on Swedish data
Mobile phone antenna placements in regard to the
thyroid gland
BMC Cancer201616:426
DOI: 10.1186/s12885-016-2429-4
Published 7 July 2016
Michael CarlbergEmail author,
Lena Hedendahl,
Mikko Ahonen,
Tarmo Koppel and
Lennart Hardell

© The Author(s). 2016

Open Peer Review reports

Abstract

Background

Radiofrequency radiation in the frequency range 30 kHz–300 GHz was evaluated to be Group 2B, i.e. ‘possibly’ carcinogenic to humans, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) at WHO in May 2011. Among the evaluated devices were mobile and cordless phones, since they emit radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF). In addition to the brain, another organ, the thyroid gland, also receives high exposure. The incidence of thyroid cancer is increasing in many countries, especially the papillary type that is the most radiosensitive type.



Methods

We used the Swedish Cancer Register to study the incidence of thyroid cancer during 1970–2013 using joinpoint regression analysis.

Results

In women, the incidence increased statistically significantly during the whole study period; average annual percentage change (AAPC) +1.19 % (95 % confidence interval (CI) +0.56, +1.83 %). Two joinpoints were detected, 1979 and 2001, with a high increase of the incidence during the last period 2001–2013 with an annual percentage change (APC) of +5.34 % (95 % CI +3.93, +6.77 %). AAPC for all men during 1970–2013 was +0.77 % (95 % CI −0.03, +1.58 %). One joinpoint was detected in 2005 with a statistically significant increase in incidence during 2005–2013; APC +7.56 % (95 % CI +3.34, +11.96 %). Based on NORDCAN data, there was a statistically significant increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer in the Nordic countries during the same time period. In both women and men a joinpoint was detected in 2006. The incidence increased during 2006–2013 in women; APC +6.16 % (95 % CI +3.94, +8.42 %) and in men; APC +6.84 % (95 % CI +3.69, +10.08 %), thus showing similar results as the Swedish Cancer Register. Analyses based on data from the Cancer Register showed that the increasing trend in Sweden was mainly caused by thyroid cancer of the papillary type.

Conclusions

We postulate that the whole increase cannot be attributed to better diagnostic procedures. Increasing exposure to ionizing radiation, e.g. medical computed tomography (CT) scans, and to RF-EMF (non-ionizing radiation) should be further studied. The design of our study does not permit conclusions regarding causality.

Full text:
https://bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12885-016-2429-4

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