Hypothesis: the risk of childhood leukemia is related to combinations of power-frequency and static magnetic fields.Bioelectromagnetics 1995; 16(1):48-59B
We present a hypothesis that the risk of childhood leukemia is related to exposure to specific combinations of static and extremely-low-frequency (ELF) magnetic fields. Laboratory data from calcium efflux and diatom mobility experiments were used with the gyromagnetic equation to predict combinations of 60 Hz and static magnetic fields hypothesized to enhance leukemia risk. The laboratory data predicted 19 bands of the static field magnitude with a bandwidth of 9.1 microT that, together with 60 Hz magnetic fields, are expected to have biological activity. We then assessed the association between this exposure metric and childhood leukemia using data from a case-control study in Los Angeles County. ELF and static magnetic fields were measured in the bedrooms of 124 cases determined from a tumor registry and 99 controls drawn from friends and random digit dialing. Among these subjects, 26 cases and 20 controls were exposed to static magnetic fields lying in the predicted bands of biological activity centered at 38.0 microT and 50.6 microT. Although no association was found for childhood leukemia in relation to measured ELF or static magnetic fields alone, an increasing trend of leukemia risk with measured ELF fields was found for subjects within these static field bands (P for trend = 0.041). The odds ratio (OR) was 3.3 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.4-30.5] for subjects exposed to static fields within the derived bands and to ELF magnetic field above 0.30 microT (compared to subjects exposed to static fields outside the bands and ELF magnetic fields below 0.07 microT). When the 60 Hz magnetic fields were assessed according to the Wertheimer-Leeper code for wiring configurations, leukemia risks were again greater with the hypothesized exposure conditions (OR = 9.2 for very high current configurations within the static field bands; 95% CI = 1.3-64.6). Although the risk estimates are based on limited magnetic field measurements for a small number of subjects, these findings suggest that the risk of childhood leukemia may be related to the combined effects of the static and ELF magnetic fields. Further tests of the hypothesis are proposed.