The Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident happened on April 26, 1986. We investigated the cause of the striking increase in frequency of thyroid cancer in children who lived within a 150 km radius of Chernobyl and who were born before and after the accident. No thyroid cancer was seen in 9472 children born in 1987-89, whereas one and 31 thyroid cancers were recorded in 2409 children born April 27, 1986, to Dec 31, 1986, and 9720 born Jan 1, 1983, to April 26, 1986, respectively. Short-lived radioactive fallout caused by the Chernobyl accident probably induced thyroid cancer in children living near Chernobyl.
Health effects as a result of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant occurred in 1986 are considered in the paper. Wrong prognosis of the health effects with respect to mortality and morbidity among the population exposed to low radiation doses is shown. Proven increase in thyroid cancer cases among people who were children aged from 0 to 18 at the time of the accident is shown. Linear relationship between thyroid cancer cases and dose to thyroid ranged from 0.2 to 4.0 Gy is considered. An additional absolute risk of thyroid cancer in children varies in the range 1.9-2.6 cases per 10(4) person-year Gy. During the fifteen years following the accident no cases of acute and chronic radiation sickness have been revealed because the population living in contaminated areas received low radiation doses. Also, exposures to low radiation doses did not result in excess of malignant tumors among population. In some cases the outcomes of acute radiation sickness were as follows: radiation damages to the skin, cancer cataracts, development of oncopathology.
Presented are the results of morphological studies of radiation sickness, congenital malformations and malignant tumors which have developed in Chemobyl victims. Until now consequences of the accident remain a subject of practical and research medicine. Scope of relevant topical problems the pathologists will have to investigate in the future is discussed.
The magnetic fields from overhead power lines and other electromagnetic sources were determined at the birth and diagnosis dwellings of all tumor cases reported in the county of Stockholm during the years 1958-73 for individuals 0-18 years of age. The study was limited to 716 cases having a permanent address in the county both at time of birth and diagnosis. An equivalent number of controls was matched to the cases according to church district of birth, age, and sex. Outside each dwelling, the occurrence of visible electrical constructions (6-200-kV high-voltage wires, substations, transformers, electric railroads, and subways) within 150 m of the dwelling was noted. Also, the 50-Hz magnetic field was measured outside the main entrance of the dwelling. Visible 200-kv wires were noted at 45 of 2,098 dwellings and were found twice as frequently among cases as among controls (P less than .05). The magnetic field measured at the dwelling varied between 0.0004 to 1.9 microT (mean value 0.069 microT). The magnetic field was higher (0.22 microT) at dwellings with visible 200-kV wires than at those without such wires. Magnetic fields of 0.3 microT or more were measured at 48 dwellings, and were found twice as frequently among cases as among controls (P less than .05). The difference was most pronounced for dwellings of nervous system tumors and was less for leukemias.
The Chernobyl accident resulted in a number of cases of thyroid cancer in females under the age of 20 y. Many of these individuals were treated with surgical removal of the thyroid gland followed by 131I ablation of residual thyroid tissue. Epidemiologic evidence demonstrates that 131I treatment for thyroid cancer or hyperthyroidism in adult women confers negligible risk of breast cancer. However, comparable data for younger women do not exist. Studies of external radiation exposure indicate that, for radiation exposures of as low as 0.2-0.7 Gy, the risk of breast cancer is greater for infant and adolescent female breast tissues than for adult female breast tissues. METHODS: The effective half-time of 131I measured in athyrotic patients was used together with the OLINDA/EXM computer code to estimate doses to breast tissue in 10-y-old, 15-y-old, and young adult females from ablation treatment. RESULTS: The dose to pediatric and young adult female breast tissue associated with a 5.6-GBq (150 mCi) ablation treatment may range from 0.35 to 0.55 Gy, resulting in a lifetime risk of breast cancer ranging from 2-4 cases per 100 such individuals exposed and a lifetime risk of solid tumors ranging from 8 to 17 solid tumors per 100 such individuals exposed. Administration of multiple ablation treatments, as often occurs with metastases, could result in doses ranging from 0.7 to 1 Gy, with corresponding increases in the lifetime cancer risk. CONCLUSION: These estimates suggest the need for additional research and a possible need for surveillance of young Chernobyl thyroid cancer patients who received 131I ablation treatment.
The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has published a substantive series of reports concerning sources, effects, and risks of ionizing radiation. This article summarizes the highlights and conclusions from the most recent 1986 and 1988 reports. The present annual per person effective dose equivalent for the world's population is about 3 mSv. The majority of this (2.4 mSv) comes from natural background, and 0.4 to 1 mSv is from medical exposures. Other sources contribute less than 0.02 mSv annually. The worldwide collective effective dose equivalent annually is between 13 and 16 million person-Sv. The Committee assessed the collective effective dose equivalent to the population of the northern hemisphere from the reactor accident at Chernobyl and concluded that this is about 600,000 person-Sv. The Committee also reviewed risk estimates for radiation carcinogenesis which included the new Japanese dosimetry at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These data indicate that risk coefficient estimates for high doses and high dose rate low-LET radiation in the Japanese population are approximately 3-10% Sv-1, depending on the projection model utilized. The Committee also indicated that, in calculation of such risks at low doses and low dose rates, a risk-reduction factor in the range of 2-10 may be considered.
Thyroid carcinomas of an additional series of 34 children exposed to radioactive fall-out after the Chernobyl reactor accident were analysed for mutations in the H-, K- and N-RAS and the p53 gene. Allele-specific oligonucleotide hybridization, single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) and direct sequencing did not disclose mutations in codons 12, 13 and 61 of RAS genes nor mutations in exons 5, 7 and 8 of p53. Considering the recently reported high prevalence of RET rearrangements of the PTC3 type in childhood tumours after Chernobyl (Klugbauer et al, 1995, Oncogene 11: 2459-2467), it follows that RET rearrangements are the most relevant molecular aberration in these radiation-induced tumours. RAS or p53 mutations do not play a role in childhood thyroid carcinogenesis after Chernobyl.