Biologically based epidemiological studies of electric power and cancer

Environ Health Perspect. 1993 Dec;101 Suppl 4:93-100.
Stevens RG.
Environ Health Perspect. 1993 Dec;101 Suppl 4:93-100.
Effects on: DNA transcription and translation, calcium balance in cells, pineal production of mlt.
Electromagnetic fields (EMF)

Free PMC Article
As societies industrialize, the health profile of the population changes; in general, acute infectious disease declines and chronic disease increases. Use of electricity is a hallmark of the industrialization process, but there has been no suspicion that electricity could increase the risk of cancer. Recently, however, a number of epidemiologic studies have suggested that electromagnetic fields (EMF) may do just that. Although few cancer experiments have been done yet, there are a number of biological effects of EMF reported in the literature that might provide bases for designingcancer experiments and epidemiologic studies. These include effects of EMF on: a) DNA transcription and translation, b) calcium balance in cells, and c) pineal production of melatonin. Alterations in DNA transcription and translation could have pleiotropic effects. Disruption of calcium homeostasis has many implications including oncogene activation, promotional activity via protein kinases and ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), and increasing oxidative stress. Reduction of melatonin suggests a possible increased risk of cancers of hormone-dependent tissues such as breast and prostate. The idea that a cancer-causing agent must either be an initiator or a promoter should be discarded; indeed, the phenomenologic meaning of these two terms has become confused with imputed mechanistic necessity in recent years. Agents that affect division of normal cells or of fully transformed cells can play an important role in clinical cancer development quite apart from initiation or promotion.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)