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The United Kingdom Childhood Cancer Study, a population-based case-control study covering the whole of Great Britain, incorporated a pilot study measuring electric fields. Measurements were made in the homes of 473 children who were diagnosed with a malignant neoplasm between 1992 and 1996 and who were aged 0-14 at diagnosis, together with 453 controls matched on age, sex and geographical location. Exposure assessments comprised resultant spot measurements in the child's bedroom and the family living-room. Temporal stability of bedroom fields was investigated through continuous logging of the 48-h vertical component at the child's bedside supported by repeat spot measurements. The principal exposure metric used was the mean of the pillow and bed centre measurements. For the 273 cases and 276 controls with fully validated measures, comparing those with a measured electric field exposure >/=20 V m(-1) to those in a reference category of exposure <10 V m(-1), odds ratios of 1.31 (95% confidence interval 0.68-2.54) for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, 1.32 (95% confidence interval 0.73-2.39) for total leukaemia, 2.12 (95% confidence interval 0.78-5.78) for central nervous system cancers and 1.26 (95% confidence interval 0.77-2.07) for all malignancies were obtained. When considering the 426 cases and 419 controls with no invalid measures, the corresponding odds ratios were 0.86 (95% confidence interval 0.49-1.51) for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, 0.93 (95% confidence interval 0.56-1.54) for total leukaemia, 1.43 (95% confidence interval 0.68-3.02) for central nervous system cancers and 0.90 (95% confidence interval 0.59-1.35) for all malignancies. With exposure modelled as a continuous variable, odds ratios for an increase in the principal metric of 10 V m(-1) were close to unity for all disease categories, never differing significantly from one.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





1257 - 1266


Adolescent, Case-Control Studies, Central Nervous System Neoplasms, Child, Child Welfare, Child, Preschool, Electromagnetic Fields, Environmental Exposure, Female, Housing, Humans, Incidence, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Leukemia, Male, Neoplasms, Odds Ratio, Pilot Projects, Risk Assessment, United Kingdom