PYLONS: Linked to dementia
LIVING close to pylons and high-voltage cables doubles the risk of dying from Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia, a study claims.
Researchers say they have found a direct link between the electromagnetic fields created by power lines and all types of dementia.
The study by doctors at Bern University’s Institute of Social and Preventative Medicine in Switzerland is the latest evidence pointing to the dangers posed by power lines.
An estimated 150,000 Britons live within the 165 ft danger zone of electricity pylons, according to Professor Denis Henshaw, an expert on human radiation.
And last night the University of Bristol scientist said: “It is now time that electricity pylons are pulled down and power cables are buried in highly populated areas of the country.”
It is now time that electricity pylons are pulled down.
Professor Denis Hensha
However, National Grid, which manages the network, said putting high-voltage cables underground posed different risks and was prohibitively expensive.
It said: “Underground cabling for high-voltage lines can cost between six and 17 times as much as using overhead lines.
“Underground cables can also pose more of a risk because of the danger of them being hit by excavation, and they are more difficult to maintain.”
The UK has at least 14,000 miles of high-voltage cable carrying electricity from power stations to homes and businesses.
The Swiss team, led by Professor Matthias Egger, found the risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases the longer people live next to electricity pylons.
He said yesterday: “Anyone who lives within the immediate vicinity of high-voltage power lines for more than 10 years has a significantly higher risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s.”
The paper has been published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Professor Henshaw claims that radiation caused by power lines and other high-power electrical sources stops the body creating the natural hormone melatonin in the pineal gland, which is lacking in Alzheimer’s sufferers.
He said: “This paper is like the final piece of a jigsaw. The link between childhood leukemia and power lines is already accepted by everybody. And there is strong evidence of a link to other diseases as well.”
Professor Egger warns that sleeping next to a radio-operated alarm clock or living beside an electrified railway line present a similar dementia risk, due to proximity of the radiation source and the strength of the electric charge. He said: “Anything that is plugged in and that is on all the time and that is near to your body is a source of this type of radiation.”
National Grid said last night: “We recognise that there is some scientific evidence suggesting certain specific health effects may be linked to electric and magnetic fields. This can cause public concern.
“However, the balance of evidence remains against electric and magnetic fields causing ill health.”
Last night the Department of Health said it was reviewing its position in the light of the study.
Harold Wilson may have had early Alzheimer’s when he resigned as Prime Minister in 1976, research into his final Commons speeches suggests.
The study, which indicated cognitive deterioration, appears in the Journal of Neurolinguistics.
Click on any of the pictures below
to learn more