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”)….