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24-05-2016 | Pediatric leukemia | Article

Childhood leukaemia and distance from power lines in California: a population-based case-control study



Studies have reported an increased risk of childhood leukaemia associated with living near high-voltage electric power transmission lines that extend to distances at which magnetic fields from lines are negligible. We conducted a large records-based case-control study of childhood leukaemia risk in the population living near power lines in California.


The study included 5788 childhood leukaemia and 3308 central nervous system (CNS) cancer cases (for comparison) born in and diagnosed in California (1986–2008), and matched to population-based controls by age and sex. We geocoded birth address and estimated the distance from residence to transmission lines using geographic information systems, aerial imagery, and, for some residences, site visits.


For leukaemia, there was a slight excess of cases within 50 m of a transmission line over 200 kV (odds ratio 1.4, 95% confidence interval 0.7–2.7). There was no evidence of increased risk for distances beyond 50 m, for lower-voltage lines, or for CNS cancers.


Our findings did not clearly support an increased childhood leukaemia risk associated with close proximity (<50 m) to higher voltage lines, but could be consistent with a small increased risk. Reports of increased risk for distances beyond 50 m were not replicated.

Br J Cancer 2016; 115: 122–128. doi:10.1038/bjc.2016.142

Authors: Catherine M Crespi, Ximena P Vergara, Chris Hooper, Sona Oksuzyan, Sheng Wu, Myles Cockburn and Leeka Kheifets

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