Preprint Commentary Version 1 NOT YET PEER-REVIEWED

A Plausible Biological Mechanism by which Extremely Low-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Increase the Risk of Childhood Leukemia

  1. Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Seville, C/ Profesor Garcia Gonzalez 2, 41012 Sevilla, Spain
Version 1 : Received: 21 August 2016 / Approved: 22 August 2016 / Online: 22 August 2016 (05:15:53 CEST)

How to cite: López-Lázaro, M. A Plausible Biological Mechanism by which Extremely Low-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Increase the Risk of Childhood Leukemia. Preprints 2016, 2016080187 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201608.0187.v1). López-Lázaro, M. A Plausible Biological Mechanism by which Extremely Low-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Increase the Risk of Childhood Leukemia. Preprints 2016, 2016080187 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201608.0187.v1).

Abstract

Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMFs) are non-ionizing radiations typically emitted by power lines, electrical wiring and electrical appliances. Epidemiological studies have repeatedly shown a positive association between ELF-EMFs and childhood leukemia. Exposures greater than 0.3-0.4 µT increase the risk by approximately 1.5-2 fold, and estimates indicate that up to 2% of childhood leukemia cases in Europe may be attributable to ELF-EMFs. However, it is considered unlikely that ELF-EMFs can cause cancer, because carcinogenesis requires the accumulation of DNA alterations and ELF-EMFs do not have enough energy to damage the DNA. Lack of biological plausibility is a barrier to accept the evidence of carcinogenicity in human studies and to take measures to protect pregnant women and children from ELF-EMFs. Recent evidence indicates that non-mutagenic agents can cause DNA alterations and increase the risk of cancer by promoting the accumulation of cell divisions in stem cells. Cell division generates DNA alterations (e.g., mutations arising during DNA replication), which occur even in the absence of DNA-damaging agents. Importantly, ELF-EMFs can trigger the division of stem cells; this effect is under development in the field of regenerative medicine. A possible mechanism by which ELF-EMFs induce the malignant transformation of hematopoietic stem cells is discussed.

Subject Areas

magnetic fields; power lines; cancer; carcinogenesis; stem cell division theory of cancer

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