Study Targets Vatican RF in Leukemia Increase

For several years, residents of Cesano, Italy have argued that RF from the nearby Vatican Radio shortwave transmission site increased the number of leukemia and lymphoma cases in the community. The Vatican disagrees. A recent 300-page research report from a team at Milan's National Tumor Institute supports the residents' claims.

Do the shortwave signals really cause an increase in these cancers?

The article Vatican Radio: Still Making Waves in IEEE Spectrum casts some doubt on the study, by quoting University of Pennsylvania researcher Kenneth Foster.

"Doing an epidemiology study in a small area, dealing with a rare disease, is a mission impossible," said Foster.

Paola Michelozzi of the Local Health Authority in Rome reported an increase in childhood leukemia in the 60,000 people within 10 km of the Vatican antenna complex in an earlier study. Michelozzi told IEEE Spectrum she sees a reason why the data might be distorted.

"If you consider an area with a radius of more than 5 km, you include the suburbs of Rome, and then you include many other sources of exposure, such as low [-frequency] electromagnetic fields," said Michelozzi.

Radio World is also covering the story in its article Vatican Radio Fighting Charges That Towers Are Linked to Cancer Risk.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.