Magazine article Science News

Cells Proliferate in Magnetic Fields

Magazine article Science News

Cells Proliferate in Magnetic Fields

Article excerpt

Electromagnetic fields of the strength found within a few feet of outdoor electric-power lines could trigger cells already vulnerable to cancer to behave like ones that develop into tumors, according to a new test-tube study. The new research findings contradict previous experiments on the controversial issue, which found such fields had no effect on cells in the laboratory.

Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing studied the effect of magnetic fields on immature red blood cells carrying a genetic mutation that can lead to cancer. Above a threshold strength, the field prevented many of the cells from maturing, and it stimulated them to replicate over and over.

"We're almost convinced [that electro-magnetic fields] can bring about a biological effect" relevant to cancer development, says MSU's James E. Trosko. He, Hiroshi Yamasaki of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and their colleagues will publish the findings in the October ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PERSPECTIVES.

If the results hold up, they could elucidate whether electromagnetic fields pose a legitimate health concern, says Larry E. Anderson of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash.

Millions of people live with cells carrying genetic mutations that could lead to cancer, but the cells don't develop into tumors unless something stimulates them. The study by Trosko and his colleagues found that electromagnetic fields of 60 hertz, a low frequency, and of strengths ranging from 0. …

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