27
Feb
2005

Children living near powerlines are more likely to get cancer

UK Draper study on childhood leukaemia risk and proximity to powerlines, as published in "Electromagnetic Hazard & Therapy", Volume 15, No. 1, 2004 ( reproduced at the end of this message).

The following update is from Alasdair Philips from Powerwatch (UK) in reply to a question about when would the study most likely be published.

Don Maisch


Question from Milt Bowling:

Gerald Draper's study was supposed to be published last November. Did that happen, and if so, what Journal?

Reply from Alasdair (26 Feb. 2005):

The Dept Health etc say it has now been submitted for publication but claim not to have actual details. Dr Gerald Draper seems to have slipped from sight and sound at present.

I have JUST worked out why the extra delay. National Grid Transco (who supported the study about their HV lines and childhood cancer) are "in court" at a necessary wayleave hearing in Yorkshire on 26th April and they don't want it published before that date.

So, expect it to be published in May or June. We will continue to press for it being available as soon as possible.

Meanwhile I have suggested the developer asks for a delay to the Necessary Wayleave Hearing until after the publication date of the Draper Report.

We have just had some Parliamentary Questions asked about this, and a reply from the Minister. We have responded to the Minister's reply but can't make our new letter public for about 3 weeks to give her a chance to reply to us.

The PQs as they appeared on the Order Paper on Thursday 3rd February are as follows:

156 Dr Ian Gibson (Norwich North): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, when the Draper Report on childhood cancer and electromagnetic field exposures from powerlines, funded by his Department, expected to be published.

157 Dr Ian Gibson (Norwich North): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, when the data on which the Draper Report on childhood cancer and electromagnetic field exposures from powerlines is based was first received by his Department; and if he will make a statement.

158 Dr Ian Gibson (Norwich North): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment his Department has made of data which the Draper Report on childhood cancer and electromagnetic field exposures from powerlines is based; and if he will make a statement.

159 Dr Ian Gibson (Norwich North): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what discussions his Department has held with (a) charities, (b) patient groups, (c) other organisations and (d) representatives of the power industry regarding the potential implications of the Draper Report on childhood cancer and electromagnetic field exposures from powerlines.

160 Dr Ian Gibson (Norwich North): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will place in the Library a copy of the data on which the Draper Report on childhood cancer and electromagnetic field exposures from powerlines is based.

161 Dr Ian Gibson (Norwich North): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will list the organisations with whom his Department has held meetings regarding the implications of the Draper Report on childhood cancer and electromagnetic field exposures from powerlines.

239 Dr Ian Gibson (Norwich North): To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what discussions her Department (a) has held and (b) plans with the Department of Health regarding the potential health implications of the Draper Report on childhood cancer and electromagnetic field exposures from powerlines.

The Minister's reply was:

Miss Melanie Johnson: A draft paper by Dr. Draper of Childhood Cancer Research Group at Oxford University into possible links between power lines and childhood leukaemia was submitted to a scientific journal and officials in the Department in November 2004. In accordance with the usual practice, publication will follow the appropriate peer review process and the publication date rests with the publishers. It would be inappropriate to comment on unpublished data, but we will ask the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) to consider the results when published.

The NRPB's "Advice on Limiting Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields" (Documents of the NRPB Vol 15 No 2 2004) noted that below the guidelines

"an association between prolonged exposure to intense power frequency magnetic fields and a small raised risk of childhood leukaemia has, however, been found, the scientific reasons for which are presently uncertain. In the light of these findings and the requirement for additional research, the need for precautionary measures should be considered by Government".

On the basis of this commendation precautionary measures are currently being considered by departmental officials in association with a large number of stakeholders including other Government Departments, the devolved administrations, the electricity supply industry, the electricity supply regulators and a number of non-government organisations and public concern groups.

CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA have now formally responded to Melanie Johnson and our letter should be publicly made available when we receive the Minister's reply or in a month's time, whichever is earlier.

Our details so far about what we believe it reports are to be found on the //www.powerwatch.org.uk website under News and then Archive. (following)

Alasdair


News :: 03/11/2004 - Children living near powerlines are more likely
to get cancer

Intro:

A long-awaited new report (due to be published in mid-November 2004) by Dr Gerald Draper and colleagues of Oxford University from a study by the Department of Health confirms previous international research findings that living near powerlines increases the risk of childhood cancer. Maureen Asbury, of the Trentham Environmental Action Campaign, wants the government to stop developers being able to build houses near powerlines, putting children at risk.

Layman's Summary:

Children living within 100 metres of overhead high voltage electricity cables are twice as likely to suffer from leukaemia as children who live further away. The large study included 35,000 children with cancer. Gerald Draper, of the Childhood Cancer Research Group at Oxford was so surprised by what he found, that although he knew about the results for 18 months, he delayed publishing them as he wanted more time to check his findings.

Comment:

The link between powerfrequency electromagnetic radiation and childhood leukaemia was first found in 1979 by Nancy Wertheimer and Ed Leeper in the USA. Further research has concentrated on leukaemia to check these first findings. Links have also been found between electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and clinical depression, other types of cancer as well as leukaemia, miscarriages, ME and other immune system problems. The mechanism by which EMFs cause disease is not yet proven, but various theories are being investigated, and the link with the hormone melatonin seems particularly likely.

Alasdair Philips

From "Electromagnetic Hazard & Therapy", Volume 15, No. 1, 2004

Website: //www.em-hazard-therapy.com

Childhood leukemia risk doubles near powerlines in biggest-ever UK study

THE largest-ever, publicly funded UK study (1) into powerlines and child cancer has apparently found that children under the age of 15 living within 100 metres of high-voltage powerlines have nearly twicethe risk of developing leukaemia. Since children aged 0-5 are themost vulnerable their risk is likely to be even higher.

This result from the Oxford Childhood Cancer Research Group study, headed by Dr Gerald Draper, involves 33 years of data (1962-95) on 35,000 children diagnosed with cancer which was analysed and compared with distance to the nearest high-voltage electricity transmissionline (275/400kV). It has been leaked by the The TrenthamEnvironmental Action Campaign (TEAC), an independent research and activist group concerned about adverse health effects from power-lines (see: //www.revolt.co.uk/trentham ). Spokeswoman Maureen Asbury said: 'It is scandalous that three yearsafter telling the Department of Health about them, these findingshave still not been published. Someone seems determined to withholdDr Draper's report for as long as possible.'

A 132kV powerline crosses many of Trentham's houses and a 2002 survey revealed 11 miscarriages and increased depression and insomnia in 113 homes within 25 metres of it. 'It is likely to be a definitive finding on whether UK powerlines can cause childhood leukaemia,' says Alasdair Philips, of CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA, a charity that is funding an International Conference on Childhood Leukaemia in London, Sept 6-10th (0207 3901561).

Philips continued: 'Preliminary results of this study, funded to run from 1997-2001, were shown confidentially to the Department of Health three years ago but are not yet in the public domain. Despite knowing the first results for some time, we have been patiently waiting for publication before going public. However, I put them on notice in January that if they were not published by this September's conference, to which they were invited to discuss them, we would make them public as the results are important and will be discussed at the conference.'

TEAC first wrote to Dr Draper in February, 2003, about his research but he did not reply until July, 2004. In it he acknowledged the importance of the results and said they had been submitted to a journal for rapid publication. A further letter to him in early August requesting details of the likely time of publication has so far gone unanswered.

TEAC also wrote to George Hooker at the DoH's Toxicology and Radiation Branch at the start of the year requesting similar information, including reasons for the delay but were dissatisfied with his reply. In early August he wrote repeating Dr Draper's comments.

The NRPB acknowledged as long ago as 2001, in a report headed by Professor Sir Richard Doll (2), that the incidence of childhood leukaemia is doubled at a magnetic field of 0.4 microtesla (uT), which is easily exceeded under most powerlines. Only this March did the NRPB finally reduce their magnetic field guidelines from 1,600 uT (!) to 100 uT. Their release said: 'In the light of these findings and the requirement for additional research, the need for further precautionary measures should be considered by government.' (3) However, 100 uT is still 250 times higher than the 0.4uT level at which the risk of developing childhood leukaemia is doubled. Powerline EMFs have also been linked to increased adult cancers, depression and suicide which, with miscarriages and insomnia, were also revealed as part of TEAC's survey. A number of these health problems were also confirmed in the important 2002 California Health Department report (4).

The Minister for Housing and Planning, Keith Hill, in a July letter concerning a proposed, 570-flat development in Wimbledon, said: 'We are aware that there is continuing debate about the effect of living under powerlines and whether this can have adverse long-term health effects. We are of the opinion that powerlines are unlikely to have significant effects on the environment.'

Maureen Asbury commented: 'His comment reveals no awareness of the DoH's research and shows a complete lack of joined-up Government.' She continued: 'It is time the government and planners took the health issue seriously and started a policy of re-directing powerlines in the worst situations. New housing near them should be restricted and existing lines through residential areas phased out.' Only 50 years ago developing childhood leukaemia was almost certainly fatal. Due to improved treatment, about 80% of children now treated for the most common form of childhood leukaemia (ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia) live for more than 5 years. But childhood leukaemia remains the largest child killer disease and survivors often suffer ongoing adverse health complications. The number of children developing leukaemia has been steadily rising over the last 50 years. In 2001, Dr Sam Milham reported a link between growth in both electricity supply and leukaemia incidence in the US. (5)

1. Draper G, Vincent T, Kroll M, Swanson J. Childhood cancer and electromagnetic field exposures from powerlines. DoH-funded 1997-2001, RRX 46 (still unpublished)

2. ELF Electromagnetic Fields and the Risk of Cancer. Docs of the NRPB, 2001;12(1).

3. See: //www.nrpb.org for details of statements and downloadable publications.

4. Neutra RR, Del Pizzo V, Lee GM. An Evaluation of the possible risks from electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) from power lines, internal wiring, electrical occupations and appliances, 2002, California Department of Health & Human Services, The Program, Oakland, California. See commentary on:
//www.electric-fields.bris.ac.uk

5. Milham S, Ossiander EM. Historical evidence that residential electrification caused the emergence of the childhood leukaemia peak, Medical Hypotheses, 2001;56(3):290-5.



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