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Your Environment. Your Health.

Stony Brook Scientists Find No Evidence of Relationship between Breast Cancer and Electromagnetic Fields

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

News Release

Archive - New Contact Information

For more information about this archival news release, please contact Christine Flowers, Director, Office of Communications & Public Liaison at (919) 541-3665.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Contact: Tom Hawkins, NIEHS
(919) 541-1402

Study is Nation's Most Comprehensive on EMF and Breast Cancer

In a study with national, wide-ranging implications, researchers at Stony Brook University report no indication that electromagnetic fields increase the risk of breast cancer. "Our study found no scientific evidence linking residential EMF to breast cancer in Long Island women," said M. Cristina Leske, M.D., M.P.H., Distinguished Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University's School of Medicine.

The study is the most comprehensive conducted on the issue.

Dr. Leske announced this important finding at a press conference held at Stony Brook University's Health Sciences Center ( today. The results will be published in the July 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. The $2.5 million, six-year study, "EMF and Breast Cancer on Long Island Study," was funded by the National Cancer Institute ( and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences ( Dr. Leske was the Principal Investigator of the project.

The investigation is the first breast cancer study in the eastern United States that actually measured power-frequency EMF in the homes, according to Dr. Leske. "Its overall design and methods met rigorous standards for research, and participation in the study was high. We used the best available methods to measure EMF and assessed exposure in multiple ways. Further, we conducted extensive analyses to address potential confounding factors."

Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths. According to estimates of the New York State Department of Health and the American Cancer Society, 2,252 Long Island women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 211,300 women nationwide will develop the disease.

There is much uncertainty about breast cancer's causes and patterns of occurrence, especially on Long Island, where concern has been expressed over higher rates than national averages.

Everyone is exposed to EMF. "The results are reassuring in that residential levels of EMF, such as from electrical wiring in or around the home, were not related to breast cancer. Given these results, we now have valuable information that leads us to conclude that we can now focus on other possible risk factors," Dr. Leske said. "Our team is most grateful for the support of the Long Island women, who made our study possible." Dr. Leske, a highly regarded scientist in large-scale, international research projects, is a member of the prestigious Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences.

The study was based on a comprehensive protocol that included interviews in participants' homes, spot measurements of magnetic fields with meters at the front door, bedroom, and the most frequented room, as well as 24-hour measurements in two rooms and ground current measurements. In addition, wiring maps were constructed of the power lines and overhead wiring surrounding each home. To participate, women must have lived in their Long Island homes for at least 15 years prior to the study. Participants were identified from a companion study in the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project. There were 1,161 women who participated in the EMF study, with a mean age of 59 years.

The results are consistent with a previous study also reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology from a Seattle group (Davis et al., AJE, 2002; 155:446-54). Co-authors from Stony Brook University included Co-Principal Investigator Elinor Randi Schoenfeld, Ph.D., Erin O'Leary, Ph.D., Kevin Henderson, B.Sc., Roger Grimson, Ph.D., and Geoffrey Kabat, Ph.D..

For more information about the study, please see the following website:

For more information on electromagnetic fields, you may contact the EMF "Infoline" of the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health ( at 1-800-356-4674.

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