HPA-RPD (formerly National Radiological Protection Board) Report of an independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation: Power Frequency Electromagnetic Fields, Melatonin and the Risk of Breast Cancer – Version 2, revised June 2006

Critique by

Professor Denis L Henshaw
Wills Physics Laboratory
University of Bristol
Tyndall Avenue

Tel: +44 (0) 117 9260353; Fax: +44 (0) 117 9251723; E-mail: d.l.henshaw@bris.ac.uk


Some parts of the Report are satisfactory but the melatonin/cancer connection is not well illustrated considering the large amount of data available. As a result, the Report is rather un‑authoritative when it discusses melatonin and cancer. There appears to be scientific misunderstanding and confusion in certain areas and lack of insightful comment. The widely differing concentrations of melatonin in blood, within cells and in certain organs is not discussed nor the reasons for its efficacy as an antioxidant and radical scavenger.

The distinction between electric fields(EFs), magnetic fields(MFs) and electric and magnetic fields(EMFs) is not brought out, especially in relation to reported effects of melatonin and circadian rhythm disruption in the human body. The limitations of human volunteer studies involving acute magnetic fields exposures are only briefly discussed. The body of studies for populations chronically exposed to neighbourhood EMFs, including some volunteer studies where exposure was carried out over several days, is not collated in a way which illustrates the overall trend in melatonin suppression/disruption. Reports of melatonin disruption and other adverse health effects resulting from fluctuations in the earth’s geomagnetic field are not mentioned.

More should have been said about the use of melatonin in the treatment of breast cancer. Important work published in the peer-reviewed literature, of core relevance to EMFs,melatonin and cancer is not cited. Overall, the substantial evidence supporting the hypothesis that exposure to power frequency EMFs affects melatonin levels or the risk of breast cancer is not brought out, indeed there is confusion on this question. While this report contains some useful reading, most evident is the lack of insightful comments at the research level.

Specific issues not discussed or otherwise brought out in the AGNIR Melatonin Report

Click here for Professor Henshaw’s full critique on the AGNIR Melatonin Report

Click here to see HPA-RPD AGNIR Melatonin Report

Back to Human Radiation Effects Group Home Page