MadSci Network: Cell Biology

Re: Could vibrations cause cancer?

Date: Wed Dec 13 22:23:02 2000
Posted By: John Moulder, Faculty, Radiation Biology, Medical College of Wisconsin
Area of science: Cell Biology
ID: 969593952.Cb

Vibration and cancer Mary Queen of Scots:

You ask whether the "rise" in cancer could be due to increased exposure to vibrations.

First, except for lung cancer (largely caused by tobacco use), age- adjusted cancer rates are not rising much (if at all) in the industrialized world. The age-adjusted part of that statement is important; because the older the population gets, the higher the cancer rate will be, since cancer is largely a disease of old age.

Second, I know of no evidence that the sorts of vibration that most of us are exposed to could either cause cancer, or contribute to the development of cancer.

But, there is some evidence that long-term exposure to high-intensity low- frequency noise and vibration may be harmful to human health. The syndrome is called "vibroacoustic disease", and the health effects it causes may include cancer. The disease is not caused by ordinary vibration and noise; it is caused by the sort of noise and vibration that people are exposed to who work, for example, near airplane engines.

The best source of information on vibroacoustic disease and its relationship to cancer is the March 1999 issue of "Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine" (vol 70, No. 3, Section II).

John Moulder
Radiation Biologist
Medical College of Wisconsin

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