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Study finds no breast cancer, power line link

By Associated Press
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 25, 2003

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. - A study that sought to explain the high rate of breast cancer on Long Island found no evidence to support fears that living near power lines causes the disease.

Researchers called the findings reassuring and said the study suggested they could rule out electromagnetic fields and focus on other risk factors for breast cancer, which strikes 200,000 women each year in the United States.

"All around, it is good news," said Dr. M. Cristina Leske, the lead researcher on the study, which is to be announced today and will appear in the Tuesday issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Exposure to invisible electromagnetic fields is nearly unavoidable in today's society. They are created wherever electricity is generated or used - near power lines and wiring, electrical equipment and appliances.

Stony Brook University launched the study in 1996, after earlier studies indicated a possible connection between electromagnetic fields and cancer. Researchers believed that the fields might hamper production of the estrogen-related hormone melatonin.

The study examined 1,161 women on Long Island - 576 who had breast cancer and 585 who did not. Researchers took measurements of magnetic fields in often-used rooms in their houses, and the study mapped the power lines surrounding each home.

They found no association between exposure to electromagnetic fields and breast cancer.

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