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WOMEN IN ELECTRICAL OCCUPATIONS HAVE HIGHER RATE OF BREAST CANCER

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Women exposed to electrical or magnetic fields on the job had a higher incidence of breast cancer than other women, according to North Carolina researchers.

The study being published Wednesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute analyzed more than 140,000 death certificates from 24 states and found that women in electrical occupations had a 38 percent higher rate of breast cancer mortality.The lead author, Dana P. Loomis of the University of North Carolina School of Public Health, acknowledged that the study had "important limitations" but adds new information on the suggestion from other studies that low level electromagnetic energy can cause cancer.

"I don't think we've proven it," Loomis said in an interview. "But we have taken it one step closer."

Loomis said his study did not take into account other exposures, such as diet or smoking, that could contribute to the cancer risk of the women.

An editorial in the Journal by Dr. Dimitrios Trichopoulos of the Harvard School of Public Health said the added breast cancer risk detected by the North Carolina researchers "appears to be small and marginally significant."