Does living close to power lines cause cancer?

I remember a time in my life not all that long ago when my parents were searching for a new house for my family. They looked long and hard for the perfect house. Then they stumbled across it. The house had everything they wanted but the surrounding property possessed a feature that they didn’t desire. Behind this house was a set of power lines. Although these power lines were blocked by trees and not an eyesore, my parents were concerned about them for a greater reason. The realtor had informed them that these lines were thought to have a link to cancer in children. pylon-power-line-compensationAt the time, when I heard this I didn’t believe it in the slightest way. Being a narrow-minded twelve-year-old, all I wanted was for my parents to pull the trigger on the nice house with the big pool. Now that I am a little older and wiser, the thought of these power lines causing cancer is an interesting topic to me. Upon further thought, I was able to raise a few questions about if there actually is a causal link between power lines and cancer in children.

The first being whether or not living in close proximity to powerlines is directly causal to cancer in young children. 

Another would be whether or not living close to power lines is reversely causal to cancer, but there is no logical way for cancer to cause living closely to power lines. 

This leaves only an independent third variable such as geographic location, and chance to prove this theory to be true.

Studies to further investigate this hypothesis

In order to investigate this further, I happened upon a study found here which describes a trial that was conducted in 1979 and uncovered a correlation between high-voltage power lines and leukemia in children. ca_v_emfThe study compared cancer rate of children who lived in close proximity to power lines to others who lived in houses, not near power lines. Researchers went out into the areas where power lines were present and measured the amount of radiation being emitted at different points throughout the day, then compared them to already known levels which were linked to cancer. Although no concrete results were discovered, it seemed to them that children who spent their whole childhood in close proximity to these power lines were most at risk. Then in 1995, the evidence was reviewed and there was no mechanism found which the magnetic fields generated by powerlines had any role in the development of cancer in children. The review of the evidence was able to rule out chance due to a high sample size. However, researchers did warn that residential magnetic field exposure and leukemia in children were regularly associated. These results only added to the question of whether or not there was any merit behind the theory that exposure to the magnetic fields given off by high voltage power lines does in fact cause cancer.radiation-from-powerlines-safe In 2002, another study was conducted and put the theory of power lines causing cancer to rest. There was no evidence found that supported the link between power lines and any form of cancer in children or adults or anything. Scientists didn’t give up, though. In 2013, one of the most recent studies to date came to the conclusion that there is no association between close proximity to powerlines any the development of any form of cancer thanks to review of previous evidence as well as further experiments conducted.

Final thoughts

Now that there is experimental evidence supporting the fact that cancer and close proximity to power lines have no effect on your health, you shouldn’t worry if you are planning on purchasing or living in a house near these lines. The alternate hypotheses which states power lines do cause cancer was rejected because the null hypothesis which states that power lines do not cause cancer was proven to be true thanks to the study from 2013. Although power lines may be ugly and an eyesore, there is no mechanism or link between the two variables. Having this evidence, I now wonder if my parents knew this at the time I would be living in a different house than the one I do today.

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