We investigated the effects of extremely-low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMFs; 50 Hz) on the secretion of cortisol in 14 men (mean age = 38.0 ± 0.9 years) working in extra-high voltage (EHV) substations. The workers dwelt in houses that were close to substations and high-voltage lines. Thus, they had long histories (1-20 years) of long-yerm exposure to ELF-EMFs. Magnetic field strength was recorded using Emdex dosimeters worn by the volunteers day and night for seven days; the one-week geometric mean ranged from 0.1 to 2.6 μT. Blood samples were taken hourly from 20:00 to 08:00 the next morning. Cortisol concentrations and patterns were compared to age-matched, unexposed control subjects whose exposure level was ten times lower. The comparison of the control group (n = 15) and the groups exposed to fields of 0.1-0.3 μT (n = 5) and > 0.3 μT (n = 9), respectively, revealed a significant effect of field intensity on the cortisol secretory pattern. This study strongly suggests that chronic exposure to ELF-EMFs alters the peak-time serum cortisol levels. Studies are required on the effect of this disruption in high-risk populations such as children, elderly people, and patients with cancer.
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