A few studies have investigated a possible relationship between Alzheimer's disease (AD) and occupations with extremely low frequency magnetic field (MF) exposure. The purpose of this study was to further evaluate this possible association in a large patient population with expert diagnoses.
Subjects came from the 8 of the 9 California Alzheimer's Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centers not previously used in an earlier study. Cases had probable or definite AD; controls primarily had a dementia-related problem other than vascular dementia (VaD) and some were not demented upon expert examination. Occupations were classified as having low, medium or high MF exposure, based upon previous research, replicating the exposure methodology used in our previous published studies.
Occupational information was available for 98.6% of the 1527 cases and 98.5% of the 404 controls with age-at-initial examination known to be at least 65. Among cases, 2.1% and 5.4% had high and medium occupational MF exposure, respectively, while among controls the percentages were 0.8% and 3.0%. In univariate analyses, the odds ratio (OR) for subjects with medium or high MF exposures combined was 2.1 (p < 0.01), while for high exposure alone the OR was 2.9 (p < 0.08). Two models were used in multivariate analyses, with gender, stroke, and either age-at-onset or age-at-initial examination as covariates. The ORs for MF exposure varied little between the two models: 2.2 (p < 0.02) and 1.9 (p < 0.03) for medium or high exposure; 2.7 (p < 0.11) and 3.2 (p < 0.12) for high exposure. OR estimates for females were higher than for males, but not significantly higher. There were no material differences between the ORs resulting from univariate and multivariate analyses.
Elevated occupational MF exposure was associated with an increased risk of AD. Based on previous published studies, the results likely pertain to the general population.