A new study has been published looking at brain cancer rates in the UK. It is normally said that brain cancer rates are not changing much over time. This study identifies one type which seems to have increased, from 1995 to 2015 – glioblastoma multiforme – with decreases in other sorts to give the limited overall change.
The paper itself mentions several possible causes for an increase without being specific. The accompanying press release (issued by MobileWise), however, focuses in on a possible link to mobile phone use, and that aspect was picked up by some of the media.
The relevance to power lines and substations
Radio-frequency magnetic fields (such as are emitted by mobile phones) are a different physical phenomenon to power-frequency electric and magnetic fields (emitted by power lines and substations). The evidence on possible health effects has to be considered completely separately, so this new work has no direct relevance to power frequencies.
This website is concerned with power frequencies – we have just some basic information on radiofrequencies.
Looking at trends over time in a disease and comparing it to changes in an exposure is a perfectly valid (if limited) technique. It’s been done for power frequencies, on childhood leukaemia, with the conclusion that changes over time don’t seem to correlate, reducing the evidence for a causal link in that case.