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Home > Understanding Breast Cancer > Breast Cancer Research > Table 26: Electromagnetic fields and breast cancer risk


Table 26: Electromagnetic fields and breast cancer risk


This summary table contains detailed information about research studies. Summary tables offer an informative look at the science behind many breast cancer guidelines and recommendations. However, they should be viewed with some caution. In order to read and interpret research tables successfully, it is important to understand some key concepts. Learn how to read a research table.

Introduction: People can be exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMF) through utility wires, electric blankets, microwave ovens and fluorescent lighting. To date, there is little evidence that regular exposure to EMF increases the risk of breast cancer. While some case-control studies have suggested a link, large prospective cohort studies have not [1].  

Learn more about EMF and breast cancer risk.

Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different types of studies.

See how this risk factor compares with other risk factors for breast cancer.  


Komen Perspectives  

Read our perspective on power lines and breast cancer risk
(November 2010).*

Read our perspective on cancer cluster studies of EMF and breast cancer risk
(November 2011).*

*Please note, the information provided within Komen Perspectives articles is only current as of the date of posting. Therefore, some information may be out of date at this time.  


Study selection criteria: Prospective cohort studies and nested case-control studies with at least 150 breast cancer cases and meta-analyses.

Table note: Relative risk above 1 indicates increased risk. Relative risk below 1 indicates decreased risk. 


Study Population
(number of participants)

Follow-up (years) 

Type of
EMF Exposure

Relative Risk of Breast Cancer in Women Regularly Exposed to EMF Compared to Women Not Regularly Exposed,
RR (95% CI)

Prospective cohort studies 

Guenel et al. [2]

(3,122 cases)


Work-related exposure

0.88 (0.68-1.15)†

Verkasalo et al. [3]

(1,229 cases)


Home exposure
(living near power lines)

0.75 (0.48-1.13)‡

Laden et al. [4]

(954 cases)


Home exposure (electric blanket use)

1.08 (0.95-1.24)

Johansen et al. [5]

(188 cases)


Work-related exposure

1.04 (0.32-3.34)

Nested case-control studies 







Forssén et al. [6]




Work-related exposure

1.01 (0.93-1.10)§

Kliukiene et al. [7]




Home exposure (living near power lines)

1.58 (1.30-1.92)



Work-related exposure
(multiple sources)

1.13 (0.91-1.40)

Ray et al. [8]




Long-term work-related exposure

0.86 (0.74-1.01)

London et al. [9]




Long-term home exposure (home wiring and living near power lines)

1.21 (0.50-2.96)

Breast Cancer on Long Island Study [10]




Long-term home exposure (multiple sources)

1.08 (0.77-1.51)


Chen et al. [11]

15 studies
(24,338 cases)



Home and work-related exposure

Total exposure:
0.99 (0.90-1.09)¶

Home exposure:
1.02 (0.92-1.12)

Work-related exposure:
0.93 (0.80-1.10) 

NS = No statistically significant increase or decrease in risk

† Average rate of breast cancer in the working population used as the comparison group.

‡ Average rate of breast cancer in the general population used as the comparison group.

§ This study also found no increased risk of estrogen receptor-positive tumors or estrogen receptor-negative tumors among women in the highest occupational exposure group. It also found no increased risk among older or younger women in the highest exposure group.

¶ This study also found also found no increased breast cancer risk from electric blanket use. It also found no increased risk from EMF exposure when results were examined by menopause status of women or by hormone receptor status of the breast cancers.



  1. Caplan LS, Schoenfeld ER, O'Leary ES, et al. Breast cancer and electromagnetic fields—a review. Ann Epidemiol. 10:31-44, 2000.
  2. Guenel P, Raskmark P, Andersen J, et al. Incidence of cancer in persons with occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields in Denmark. Br J Industr Med. 50:758-64, 1993.
  3. Verkasalo PK, Pukkala E, Kaprio J, et al. Magnetic fields of high voltage power lines and risk of cancer in Finnish adults: Nationwide cohort study. Br Med J. 313:1047-51, 1996.
  4. Laden F, Neas LM, Tobert PE, et al. Electric blanket usage in the Nurses' Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 152(1):41-9, 2000.
  5. Johansen C, Nielsen OR, Olsen JH, Schüz J. Risk for leukaemia and brain and breast cancer among Danish utility workers: a second follow-up. Occup Environ Med. 64(11):782-4, 2007.
  6. Forssén UM, Rutqvist LE, Ahlbom A, Feychting M. Occupational magnetic fields and female breast cancer: a case-control study using Swedish population registers and new exposure data. Am J Epidemiol. 161(3):250-9, 2005.
  7. Kliukienne J, Tynes T, and Andersen A. Residential and occupational exposure to 50-Hz magnetic fields and breast cancer in women: A population-based study. Am J Epidemiol. 159(9):852-61, 2004.
  8. Ray RM, Gao DL, Li W, et al. Occupational exposures and breast cancer among women textile workers in Shanghai. Epidemiology. 18(3):383-92, 2007.
  9. London SJ, Pogoda JM, Hwang KL, Langholz B, Monroe KR, Kolonel LN, Kaune WT, Peters JM, Henderson BE. Residential magnetic field exposure and breast cancer risk: a nested case-control study from a multiethnic cohort in Los Angeles County, California. Am J Epidemiol. 158(10):969-80, 2003.
  10. Schoenfeld ER, O'Leary ES, Henderson K, Grimson R, Kabat GC, Ahnn S, Kaune WT, Gammon MD, Leske MC; EBCLIS Group. Electromagnetic fields and breast cancer on Long Island: a case-control study. Am J Epidemiol. 158(1):47-58, 2003.
  11. Chen C, Ma X, Zhong M, Yu Z. Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields exposure and female breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis based on 24,338 cases and 60,628 controls. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 123(2):569-76, 2010. 

Updated 08/31/13