High voltage power lines dot our landscape like enormous, gnarly monsters with tentacles that go on for miles. No matter where you go in the United States, even in some of our most remote areas these less than aesthetically pleasing structures reminiscent of Erector sets let us know that civilization as we know it is with us. Ugly yes, but do they cause cancer?
According to Forbes the short and unequivocal answer is no. And as the article points out that should be the end of it, but of course it’s not.
All of those electrical devices and appliances that we take for granted as we go about our very busy lives produce what’s known as an Electro Magnetic Field (EMF), and the more electrical devices we and others use, the more we are exposed to EMFs. Not surprisingly, anything that pervasive is bound to generate speculation, and just as unsurprisingly much of the speculation says that EMFs are bad, so bad that they cause cancer.
“This debate (about EMFs) sounds very familiar. Many false hypotheses, such as the notion that vaccines cause autism, or that acupuncture can reduce pain, show the same pattern: a few small studies produce weak positive evidence, but then larger, better studies fail to back them up. Proponents always call for more studies, but if the effect is real, it doesn’t disappear when you do a bigger study. If anything, the effect should appear stronger.”
“So no, electrical power lines do not cause cancer. But they’re still ugly. We should bury them all underground.”