IDF soldiers (R) 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Young people exposed for a prolonged period or to a large amount of
electromagnetic fields can develop cancer during a relatively short period,
according to a new study conducted by Hebrew University
Previous studies have described excess risks for cancer from
such high occupational exposures, but until now, none has addressed the issue of
short latency periods from such exposure.
High exposure to EMFs occurs
with tasks involving fixing of radar equipment, sitting in vehicles with
antennas and communication equipment, carrying radio equipment on the waist or
back all day, or working in offices located very close to powerful transmitting
antenna or “situation rooms” that are packed full of communications equipment
and radios. Such employees typically work in the Israel Defense
In the past 20 years, 47 cancer patients – including eight with
multiple types of primary tumors – came to the university’s Unit of Occupational
and Environmental Medicine with histories of prior occupational exposure to
various types and intensities of EMFs.
In 15 cases, the latency periods
between first exposure and diagnosis was less than five years, and 12 with
latencies between five years and a decade. Periods of exposure to EMFs among the
group of patients ranged from five months to 33 years.
In almost all,
exposures to EMFs were during military service.
Most of the patients were
in their early 20s and had extremely short latent periods.
five-year latency group, there were eight hemo-lymphatic cancers and nine solid
tumors that included the testes, head and neck (including brain) and
gastrointestinal tract, including two with two primary cancers.
patterns of latency for different types of tumors suggest a coherent and
biologically plausible pattern in relation to the onset of exposure to
The report, which was recently published in the European Journal of
Oncology, was written by Dr. Yael Stein, researcher Or Levy- Nativ and Prof.
Richter of the Hebrew University’s Braun School of Public Health
and Community Medicine.
Stein is preparing to write her doctoral thesis
on the modeling of EMF exposure sources and penetration into the
Lloyd Morgan of the Environmental Health Trust, a US scientific
watchdog group, wrote: “The importance of this paper cannot be
It suggests that a shift is required towards a new paradigm
that non-ionizing radiation could be a universal carcinogen similar to ionizing
The study points to the need for better understanding of the
carcinogenic potency of EMF and better protective measures against
“These young men and women are the nation’s eyes and ears, Richter
wrote in a letter to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein. “Our results state the
case for protecting those who are protecting us. This means recognizing their
risks now and taking action to protect them from high exposure to radio-frequency