Magnetic fields and brain tumour risks in UK electricity supply workers

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    Aims: To investigate whether brain tumour risks are related to occupational exposure to low-frequency magnetic fields. Methods: Brain tumour risks experienced by 73 051 employees of the former Central Electricity Generating Board of England and Wales were investigated for the period 1973–2010. All employees were hired in the period 1952–82 and were employed for at least 6 months with some employment in the period 1973–82. Detailed calculations had been performed by others to enable an assessment to be made of exposures to magnetic fields. Poisson regression was used to calculate relative risks (rate ratios) of developing a brain tumour (or glioma or meningioma) for categories of lifetime, distant (lagged) and recent (lugged) exposure. Results: Findings for glioma and for the generality of all brain tumours were unexceptional; risks were close to (or below) unity for all exposure categories and there was no suggestion of risks increasing with cumulative (or recent or distant) magnetic field exposures. There were no statistically significant dose–response effects shown for meningioma, but there was some evidence of elevated risks in the three highest exposure categories for exposures received >10 years ago. Conclusions: This study found no evidence to support the hypothesis that exposure to magnetic fields is a risk factor for gliomas, and the findings are consistent with the hypotheses that both distant and recent magnetic field exposures are not causally related to gliomas. The limited positive findings for meningioma may be chance findings; national comparisons argue against a causal interpretation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)157-165
    Number of pages9
    JournalOccupational Medicine
    Issue number3
    Early online date21 Feb 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


    • cohort study
    • electricity supply industry
    • Glioma
    • Meningioma

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine(all)


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