"There is no clear connection between exposure to high-voltage power lines and mobile phones and the risk of developing a brain tumour." This is the main conclusion in the thesis by Lars Klaeboe, a Ph.D. student at the Cancer Registry of Norway.
Article by: Børge Sildnes
Translation: Barbara Mortensen
In his thesis "Intercranial tumours and electromagnetic fields" Klaeboe describes time trends for brain cancer incidence in the Nordic countries during a 30 year period. In addition, he has examined if exposure to power lines and mobile phones gives an increased risk of developing a brain tumour in adults.
"Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) is not a new phenomenon. Most people are exposed to a complex mix of weak electrical fields and magnetic fields both at home and at work", says Klaeboe.
Needs more research
During the past years, many have expressed concern regarding the possible health effects of such exposure. High-voltage power lines and mobile phones have been focused on. This concern has been the starting point for research about possible connections between the development of tumours and electromagnetic fields from high-voltage power lines and mobile phones.
"The use of mobile phones has not been wide spread for so many years. Therefore, research is still needed in this field in order to expose possible cancer risk in the long run. Among other things, the Cancer Registry of Norway will contribute to a Nordic- Swiss study to look at mobile phone use among children and if this can influence the risk of cancer", says Klaeboe.
The researcher at the Cancer Registry says that there is uncertainty regarding mobile phone studies because they are based on information from the users themselves. It is also difficult to remember how long one has spoken in the phone some years back. People who live close to high-voltage power lines are at home to varying degrees, and it is uncertain how much other factors such as the job situation should be taken into consideration.
Better diagnostic methods
Two of the studies in Klaeboe's thesis are so called risk studies related to electromagnetic field exposure. In the two other studies he looks at the extensiveness of brain tumours in the Nordic countries:
" The incidence of primary brain tumours in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweeden has been higher in the period after 1983 than before, which is in accordance with the introduction of improved diagnostic methods", says Klaeboe. "Also the incidence of meningiomas, which develop from the membranes of the brain, have increased regularly the whole period, with a somewhat higher increase in women than men", he says.