If you’re at all skeptical about the increased risk of cancer you and your children face based on your proximity to electric power lines, new statistics published in this week’s British Medical Journal certainly should make you a believer.

Researchers compared more than 29,000 cases of cancer in children — about a third of whom had leukemia — with a group of healthy kids in England and Wales. Measuring the distance from power lines — not magnetic fields emitted from power lines or other sources — the potential odds of your youngster being stricken with leukemia is indeed astonishing:

  • Kids living with 200 meters (some 650 feet) of power lines were some 70 percent more likely to develop leukemia than those living beyond 600 meters (almost 2,000 feet).
  • Children who live anywhere between 200-600 meters away from power lines increased their odds of succumbing to leukemia by about 20 percent.

Not surprisingly, these findings fly in the face of the larger United Kingdom Childhood Cancer Study that minimized such risks and reported most cases of childhood leukemia were caused by early infections or preexisting conditions prior to birth.

Nevertheless, the lead researcher pointed out, based on previous studies, he would be leery of moving into a home where there were electromagnetic field exposures at or higher than 0.4 microtesia (the unit of measurement used to calculate magnetic fields).

British Medical Journal, June 4, 2005Free Full-Text Article

CNN International June 3, 2005