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Cancer blog: Do power lines cause cancer?

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Nov 27, 2005

Do Power Lines Cause Cancer?

Do power lines cause cancer?
Arguments are heating up between Scottish and Southern Energy in Scotland and the area residents over a proposed high voltage power line. The controversy started when the Scottish power company, SSE, has applied for permission to run a chain of 600 pylons 220 kilo-meters (about 144 miles) from Beauly, near Inverness, to Denny, near Stirling.

The local residents however were not very happy about this. They found out that there are 878 houses near Stirling which lie within 600 meters of the broad route proposed for the power line. That is the distance within which a recent government study found the risks of childhood leukemia increased.

Some experts say proximity to power lines is also linked to severe depression, suicide, miscarriages, brain cancer and motor neuron disease. Other countries have taken strict precautions against siting high-voltage pylons next to homes.

The most disturbing evidence to date on the health hazards of pylons comes from a study by the Childhood Cancer Research Group at Oxford University, published in the British Medical Journal in June. The study of 29,000 children in England and Wales found that those who lived within 200 meters of a high-voltage line had a 69% increased risk of leukemia. Those living 200 to 600 meters away had a 23% increased risk.

But Stirling Before Pylons says this is "misleading". The group counted 50 houses in the Stirling Council area alone within 100 metres of where pylons could be sited. Pylons could be put up anywhere inside a corridor that ranges from 100 to 400 metres wide, it claimed.

Janet      Return to the main blog page

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We do not know the exact cause of many cancers. Many cancers like leukemia have no apparent cause. Some other types of cancers like lung cancers have identifiable causes like smoking in most cases. Lung cancer can occur in those who have never smoked in their life. It is hard to know in these cases what is causing that patients lung cancer. Factors that increase the risk of development of cancer is known as risk factors for cancer. These risk factors may be modifiable like smoking where a person can exert control or un-modifiable factors like age and gender. Smoking can cause cancers of the lungs, mouth, throat, bladder, kidneys and several other organs.

Cancer blog: Do power lines cause cancer?

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