IDF electromagnetics could raise cancer risk

New study addresses issue of short latency periods from exposure to electromagnetic fields, IDF employees at risk.

IDF soldiers  (R) 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
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 researchers.
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 Forces.
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.
In the 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.
The patterns of latency for different types of tumors suggest a coherent and biologically plausible pattern in relation to the onset of exposure to EMFs.
The report, which was recently published in the European Journal of Oncology, was written by Dr. Yael Stein, researcher Or Levy- Nativ and Prof. Elihu D.
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 body.
Lloyd Morgan of the Environmental Health Trust, a US scientific watchdog group, wrote: “The importance of this paper cannot be overstated.
It suggests that a shift is required towards a new paradigm that non-ionizing radiation could be a universal carcinogen similar to ionizing radiation”.
The study points to the need for better understanding of the carcinogenic potency of EMF and better protective measures against them.
“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 [and] microwaves.”