A number of epidemiological studies have indicated association between exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields and a variety of cancers, including leukaemia and brain tumours among residentially exposed children and among occupationally exposed adults. In order to test if intermittent magnetic fields (MF) act as a tumour promoter, a long-term skin carcinogenicity study of 50 Hz sinusoidal MF with flux densities of 50 μT and 0.5 mT, continuous as well as with an intermittence of 15 s on/off, was performed. Female SENCAR mice were divided into eight groups of 50 animals in each and treated according to an initiation- promotion scheme. 7,12-dimethylbenz[a] anthracene (DMBA) in acetone was applied to the dorsal skin at a subcarcinogenic dose, as an initiator and exposure to MF was performed for 19-21 h/day during 104 weeks starting 1 week after the initiator treatment. The phorbol ester 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) was used as a positive control for skin tumour promoting activity. Two animals from each group were assigned for skin hyperplasia analysis at 2, 6, 12, 18 and 21 months. The animals were observed daily. The appearance of skin lesions and neoplasms were carefully followed and histopathological diagnosis was made for all neoplasms present at death. The experiment was terminated after 105 weeks. DMBA-treatment alone yielded altogether two skin tumours in two tumour-bearing animals and the animals exposed to acetone alone had one skin tumour. The animals exposed to continuous fields showed no skin tumour. Five animals exposed to 0.5 mT on/off had a total of 13 skin tumours and in the group exposed to 50 μT on/off four animals had a total of four skin tumours. The on/off exposed groups differed significantly from the continuously exposed groups (P = 0.014) but the difference between the on/off exposure groups and the DMBA group was not statistically significant when tumour-bearing animals and cumulated skin tumours were compared. There was a statistically significant dose trend (P = 0.045) with flux density and Tesla-h for intermittent MF exposure for cumulated skin tumours per tumour-bearing animals. The epithelial thickness of DMBA + MF-treated animals was of the same magnitude as for DMBA-treated animals indicating that, in the case of a promoting effect being present, another mechanism than one involving sustained hyperplasia may be involved.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research