Electric Blankets and Breast Cancer

Kelly Anne Spratt, D.O., Director of Women's Cardiovascular Health at the University of Pennsylvania Presbyterian Medical Center, answers your questions.

Q. I have heard that electric blankets can contribute to breast cancer, and that if you use one you should heat the bed only and then unplug the blanket. Is there any medical data available?

A. Electric blankets have been blamed for a number of ailments, including breast cancer and brain tumors in children. There has not been any scientific evidence to substantiate this, however. Specifically, in the American Journal of Epidemiology in June 1996, a study of electric blankets and water-bed heaters did not show increased risk of brain tumors. In June of 1998, the same journal looked at breast cancer risk in women and did not find a link.

In 2000, the American Journal of Epidemiology published results of another study that had the same outcome: No link was found between electric blanket use and breast cancer.