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Last Updated: Friday, 3 June, 2005, 09:01 GMT 10:01 UK
'Pylons caused my son's cancer'
Linda Tatten
Mrs Tatten believes power lines caused her son's leukaemia
A study in the British Medical Journal this week suggests that living too close to overhead power lines increases the risk of childhood leukaemia.

The authors are cautious of their findings and say they may be down to chance because they could not find any reason why this trend might be.

Linda Tatten, 56, believes living close to power lines caused her son's leukaemia.

"I'm absolutely convinced it was the cables.

"When we first moved to the house in Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent, in 1973, when David was only 18 months old, there was no question about any connection between power lines and leukaemia.

It is too much of a coincidence. There must be a link
Linda Tatten, whose son died of leukaemia

"The power lines ran right across our back garden but it didn't really worry us.

"Then David was diagnosed with leukaemia in 1978 and died in 1979 when he was eight."

Some years later, Linda began to hear of research suggesting power lines might be associated in some way with leukaemia.

She says the latest study, by Dr Gerald Draper and colleagues from the Childhood Cancer Research Group at Oxford University and Dr John Swanson, a scientific adviser at National Grid Transco, is yet more proof that there is a link.

"It is too much of a coincidence. There must be a link.

"I just wonder how many other people have gone through my experience, living under power cables, but have never come forward.

"The estate that we lived on was a new housing estate, crowded with families with young children.

"The sad part is that I do not think a lot of people realise the link even now."


She said it was now time for government to step in.

"Somebody's got to stand up and take responsibility for this. The government are responsible for the health of our children.

"I think it has got to go direct to the Prime Minister."

Another good reason to get solar energy
Andrew Briggs, UK

Dr Swanson said a stakeholder group, including the electricity industry, government, patient groups and cancer charities, had been set up to investigate.

He said the fact that the industry had been involved in the latest study showed how committed it was and that it took the matter seriously.

"We are as determined as anybody to get to the bottom of this.

"Even if we don't know for certain what is causing it, just the fact that there does seem to be an increased rate of cancer near power lines means we have got to think about these questions of 'should people carry on living near power lines or not?'" he said.

Both Cancer Research UK and Leukaemia Research said there was no reason why anyone should be advised to move house on the basis of these new results.

They said there were many possible causes of leukaemia, including genes and exposure to infections.

The BMJ study estimated that if living in close proximity to power lines at birth did increase the chance of leukaemia, it would account for only 1% of all childhood leukaemias.

Experts say a direct link with the power lines is unproven

Fresh debate over pylon cancer risk
10 Jun 03 |  Science/Nature

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