Occupational exposure to magnetic fields and electric shocks and risk of ALS: The Swiss National Cohort

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has been associated with exposures in so-called ‘electrical occupations’. It is unclear if this possible link may be explained by exposure to extremely low-frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF) or by electrical shocks. In this study, the authors evaluated ALS mortality in 2000-2008 and exposure to ELF-MF and electrical shocks in the Swiss National Cohort, using job exposure matrices for occupations at censuses 1990 and 2000. 2.2 million workers with high or medium versus low exposure to ELF-MF and electrical shocks were compared using Cox proportional hazard models. The results showed that mortality from ALS was higher in people who had medium or high ELF-MF exposure in both censuses (HR 1.55 (95% CI 1.11-2.15)), but closer to unity for electrical shocks (HR 1.17 (95% CI 0.83-1.65)). When both exposures were included in the same model, the HR for ELF-MF changed little (HR 1.56), but the HR for electric shocks was attenuated to 0.97. In conclusion, there was an association between exposure to ELF-MF and mortality from ALS among workers with a higher likelihood of long-term exposure.

Authors: Huss A, Spoerri A, Egger M, Kromhout H, Vermeulen R; For The Swiss National Cohort. ;Full Source: Amyotroph Lateral Scler Frontotemporal Degener. 2014 Sep 17:1-6. [Epub ahead of print] ;