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Occupations with exposure to electromagnetic fields: a possible risk factor for alzheimer's disease.

Sobel E; Davanipour Z; Sulkava R; Erkinjuntti T; Wikstrom J; Henderson VW; Buckwalter G; Bowman JD; Lee J
Am J Epidemiol 1995 Sep; 142(5):515-524
A case/control analysis of electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure as a possible risk factor for Alzheimer's Disease (AD) was performed. Data were taken from three clinical studies of sporadic and familial AD- a study of 53 patients with sporadic AD conducted in Finland (FS1), a study of 198 cases of sporadic and familial AD conducted at Koskela Hospital, Helsinki (FS2), and a study of 136 patients with sporadic AD conducted at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (USC ADRC study). The controls for the studies were: FS1, 70 patients with sporadic vascular dementia (SVD); FS2, 299 hospitalized patients with neurological disorders; and the USC ADRC study, 106 healthy people living in the study area. Occupational information was obtained through interviews with knowledgeable surrogates for the AD and SVD patients and the controls. The information was reviewed to identify subjects who were employed in occupations known to have medium to high exposures to magnetic fields. Medium exposure consisted of regular intermittent exposure to magnetic fields of 10 milligauss (mG) or stronger or regular exposure to 2 to 10mG fields. High exposure consisted of regular exposure to magnetic fields of 10mG or stronger or intermittent exposure to fields stronger than 100 mG. Employment in occupations with these magnetic fields as risk factors for AD were computed using case/control techniques. In all three studies combined, 36 cases and 16 controls were judged to have been occupationally exposed to medium or high magnetic fields. Seamstresses, dressmakers, and tailors were the major occupations found to have such exposures. The odds ratios (ORs) for employment as a seamstress, dressmaker, or tailor being associated with AD in the FS1, FS2, and USC ADRC studies after controlling for educational background were 2.9, 3.1, and 3.0, respectively. For all three studies, the combined OR was 3.0. When stratified by sex, the combined OR was 3.8 for females and 2.1 for males. Magnetic fields produced by four commercial and two home sewing machines were measured. The overall average field measured was 19.3mG. The authors conclude that EMFs may be involved in the etiology of AD.
NIOSH-Author; Electromagnetic-fields; Occupational-exposure; Brain-disorders; Chronic-degenerative-diseases; Risk-factors; Epidemiology; Work-analysis; Sewing-machine-operators; Magnetic-fields; Author Keywords: Alzheimers disease; electromagnetic fields; occupations; risk factors
Dr. Eugene Sobel, Department of Preventive Medicine, Parkview Medical Building B-304, University of Southern California School of Medicine, 1420 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033
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Journal Article
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American Journal of Epidemiology
Page last reviewed: October 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division