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Fear of frying: power lines and cancer

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7287.682 (Published 17 March 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:682
  1. Simon Chapman, professor of public health
  1. University of Sydney, Australia

    Those in the media who believe that high voltage power lines and pylons cause cancer in children are like the plucky, armless black knight in Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail: they just won't give up.

    Last week they thought their Christmases were all about to come at once when they got wind of a report not yet published that was “expected to show” that the power lines were killers. Even better, among the authors of the report was none other than Sir Richard Doll, whose every mention noted that he was the first to show conclusively the link between smoking and lung cancer. These electricity doomsayers were about to be vindicated over their perennial story by the Mike Tyson of epidemiology: if Doll said there was danger, there was no turning back.

    Except for one tiny problem-ette. The then unreleased report was not actually going to say that. The UK National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) review (http://www.nrpb.org.uk/Absd12-1.htm) published on 6 March …

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