Adult and childhood leukemia near a high-power radio station in Rome, Italy.
Am J Epidemiol. 2002 Jun 15 ;155(12):1096-103. PMID: 12048223
Some recent epidemiologic studies suggest an association between lymphatic and hematopoietic cancers and residential exposure to high-frequency electromagnetic fields (100 kHz to 300 GHz) generated by radio and television transmitters. Vatican Radio is a very powerful station located in a northern suburb of Rome, Italy. In the 10-km area around the station, with 49,656 residents (in 1991), leukemia mortality among adults (aged>14 years; 40 cases) in 1987-1998 and childhood leukemia incidence (eight cases) in 1987-1999 were evaluated. The risk of childhood leukemia was higher than expected for the distance up to 6 km from the radio station (standardized incidence rate = 2.2, 95% confidence interval: 1.0, 4.1), and there was a significant decline in risk with increasing distance both for male mortality (p = 0.03) and for childhood leukemia (p = 0.036). The study has limitations because of the small number of cases and the lack of exposure data. Although the study adds evidence of an excess of leukemia in a population living near high-power radio transmitters, no causal implication can be drawn. There is still insufficient scientific knowledge, and new epidemiologic studies are needed to clarify a possible leukemogenic effect of residential exposure to radio frequency radiation.