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16/08/2004 - FM radiation causes skin cancer

In a new study, Swedish scientists looked at skin cancer incidence to see if it was linked to proximity to FM broadcasting or to increased UV radiation from travelling abroad. The rate of increase in malignant melanoma of the skin in different parts of Sweden was linked to the date of development of the FM broadcasting network, rather than the increase in "sun-travelling".

Key findings

  • The skin cancer rise in Sweden follows FM TV broadcasting network development
  • Sun holidays a secondary risk
  • EMFs disturb cell repair mechanisms, increasing the damage caused by UV radiation

Related paper

"Malignant melanoma of the skin" - not a sunshine story! - Hallberg O & Johansson O, 2004, Medical Science Monitor 10 (7), pp 336-340

Further details

There has been a dramatic increase in mortality from melanoma of the skin in many countries in the second half of the 20th century. It has been attributed to increased travelling to sunny holiday spots leading to increased exposure to the carcinogenic effects of UV radiation. However, Hallberg and Johansson looked at charter travel statistics for Sweden and show that melanoma deaths increased sharply in 1955, 6 years before the major upsurge in holiday arrangements.

Hallberg and Johansson found in 2002, see below, an association between the commencement of FM broadcasting in Sweden in 1955 and an increase in melanoma mortality. In their new study, the increase in mortality seemed to match county for county, the FM network development. They hypothesise that the EMFs affect the immune defence system, cell repair and apoptosis (programmed cell death) mechanisms. This would account for the rapid increase in mortality statistics and the slower increase in incidence data, as environmental pollutants take some time to translate into diagnosed illness.

Powerwatch has been concerned about local FM broadcasting towers increasing poeple's susceptibility to mobile phone base station emissions in the UK. This study seems to point to a link that may be significant in adding a factor to explain the 'mystery' of cancer clusters.

See also: Hallberg O & Johansson O - Melanoma incidence & frequency modulation (FM) braodcasting. Arch Envir Health 2002, 51, 32-40