Power lines and Alzheimer's risk

Dr Anke Huss of the University of Bern and her colleagues have been studying 1990 and 2000 Swiss census data and 2000–2005 mortality data for 4.7 million people aged 30 and older (over 95% of the population) so as to investigate the relationship between residential exposure to power lines and risk of Alzheimer’s or senile dementia.
Huss and her colleagues found that people living within 50 metres of a 220–380 kV power line were 1.24 times more likely to die of Alzheimer's disease than those living at least 600 metres away.

People who lived for five years near a 220–380 kV power line were at a 1.51-fold increased risk. For people who lived close to a large power line for at least a decade, risk increased by a factor of 1.78, while it was doubled for those who had been living near a power line for at least 15 years. Results were similar when the researchers looked at deaths from senile dementia. While 9.2% of the Swiss population lives within 600 metres of an extra-high voltage power line, only 0.3% live within 50 metres of one.

People are much more likely to be exposed to extremely low-
frequency magnetic fields, similar to those emitted by power lines, from household appliances such as radio alarm clocks, but reducing risk only involves not being very close to such devices for long periods of time; for example, not sleeping with one's head close to a radio alarm clock or keeping an electric blanket on all night.

At present there is no accepted biological mechanism to explain why magnetic fields might increase Alzheimer's risk. Given the consistency of the findings the researchers believe that ‘there may be something going on’ even if they don't know what it is.

American Journal of Epidemiology, January 15, 2009
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Courtesy of www.es-uk.info

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