One group that has the potential to be exposed to radiation is workers in the nuclear industry. Results of a systematic medical follow-up and dosimetric monitoring of these workers can form the basis for a study of the relationship between cancer incidence and radiation dose. As part of such efforts in Russia, a major institution of the nuclear industry with an established medical care unit, archiving capabilities, and dosimetry department was selected: the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering (IPPE) in Obninsk. In the study, a comparative analysis of cancer incidence rates for the IPPE workers and for the general population of Russia in 1991-1997 was carried out. The subjects were the IPPE workers hired before 1981. This restriction was imposed to reduce the uncertainty associated with the possible latent period in the development of solid cancers. Thus the possibility of including persons who already had the disease at the time when they were hired was minimized. The analysis is based on information about 158 cancer cases, including 24 cancers in persons under individual dosimetric monitoring. A statistically significant excess in cancer incidence was found among the IPPE workers compared with a comparison population (the general population of Russia) for some types of cancers. The SIR values for all cancers (ICD-9: 140-208) is 0.93 (95% CI 0.76, 1.12) for males and 1.42 (95% CI 1.06, 1.87) for females. A statistically significant excess for all cancers was also observed for residents of Obninsk compared to the control comparison population. The corresponding SIR value was 1.20 (95% CI 1.12, 1.28) for males and 1.58 (95% CI 1.49, 1.69) for females. An important reason for the observed excess in cancer incidence compared to the control population may be the higher level of health care in the so-called nuclear cities of Russia which may have resulted in increased diagnosis and registration of cancers. A statistically significant dependence of the cancer incidence on the dose of ionizing radiation was not established. The excess relative risk per gray for all types of cancer was 0.91 (95% CI -2.75, 4.61) for males and 0.40 (95% CI -6.94, 7.83) for females. These estimates should be considered to be preliminary, as the number of cases considered in the analysis of the dose response is small (17 males and 7 females).
Long-lived, sensitive, and specific biomarkers of particular mutagenic agents are much sought after and potentially have broad applications in the fields of cancer biology, epidemiology, and prevention. Many clastogens induce a spectrum of chromosome aberrations, and some of them can be exploited as biomarkers of exposure. Densely ionizing radiation, for example, alpha particle radiation (from radon or plutonium) and neutron radiation, preferentially induces complex chromosome aberrations, which can be detected by the 24-color multifluor fluorescence in situ hybridization (mFISH) technique. We report the detection and quantification of stable complex chromosome aberrations in lymphocytes of healthy former nuclear-weapons workers, who were exposed many years ago to plutonium, gamma rays, or both, at the Mayak weapons complex in Russia. We analyzed peripheral-blood lymphocytes from these individuals for the presence of persistent complex chromosome aberrations. A significantly elevated frequency of complex chromosome translocations was detected in the highly exposed plutonium workers but not in the group exposed only to high doses of gamma radiation. No such differences were found for simple chromosomal aberrations. The results suggest that stable complex chromosomal translocations represent a long-lived, quantitative, low-background biomarker of densely ionizing radiation for human populations exposed many years ago.
The paper discusses the provision of targeted health care to nuclear workers in Russia based on radiation-epidemiological estimates of cancer risks. Cancer incidence rates are analysed for the workers of the Institute of Physical Power Engineering (the first nuclear installation in the world) who were subjected to individual dosimetric monitoring from 1950 to 2002. The value of excess relative risk for solid cancers was found to be ERR Gy(-1) = 0.24 (95% CI: -4.22; 7.96). It has been shown that 81.8% of the persons covered by individual dosimetric monitoring have potential attributive risk up to 5%, and the risk is more than 10% for 3.7% of the workers. Among the detected cancer cases, 73.5% of the individuals show an attributive risk up to 5% and the risk is in excess of 10% for 3.9% of the workers. Principles for the provision of targeted health care, given voluntary health insurance, are outlined.
The paper is concerned with the results of a follow-up over the period of 1986-1989 of function of the hypophyseo-thyroid system in children and adolescents (approximately 6000 persons), residing in the South-West of the Kaluga Region, where radiation fallouts were observed after the Chernobyl accident. The results were based upon the analysis of medical examinations and determination of the blood levels of TSH, T4 and T3. A certain functional activation of the thyroid system was observed in a majority of the examinees. A conclusion has been made of a necessity of a long-term follow-up of the thyroid of persons who received radioactive iodine in childhood.
Speculation has long surrounded the question of whether past exposure to ionizing radiation leaves a unique permanent signature in the genome. Intrachromosomal rearrangements or deletions are produced much more efficiently by densely ionizing radiation than by chemical mutagens, x-rays, or endogenous aging processes. Until recently, such stable intrachromosomal aberrations have been very hard to detect, but a new chromosome band painting technique has made their detection practical. We report the detection and quantification of stable intrachromosomal aberrations in lymphocytes of healthy former nuclear-weapons workers who were exposed to plutonium many years ago. Even many years after occupational exposure, more than half the blood cells of the healthy plutonium workers contain large (>6 Mb) intrachromosomal rearrangements. The yield of these aberrations was highly correlated with plutonium dose to the bone marrow. The control groups contained very few such intrachromosomal aberrations. Quantification of this large-scale chromosomal damage in human populations exposed many years earlier will lead to new insights into the mechanisms and risks of cytogenetic damage.
A multicolor banding (mBAND) fluorescence in situ hybridization technique was used to investigate the presence inhuman populations of a stable biomarker-intrachromosomal chromosome aberrations-of past exposure to high-LET radiation. Peripheral blood lymphocytes were taken from healthy Russian nuclear workers occupationally exposed from 1949 onward to either plutonium, gamma rays or both. Metaphase spreads were produced and chromosomes 1 and 2 were hybridized with mBAND FISH probes and scored for intra-chromosomal aberrations. A large yield of intrachromosomal aberrations was observed in both chromosomes of the individuals exposed to high doses of plutonium, whereas there was no significant increase over the (low) background control rate in the population who were exposed to high doses of gamma rays. Interchromosome aberration yields were similar in both the high plutonium and the high gamma-ray groups. These results for chromosome 1 and 2 confirm and extend data published previously for chromosome 5. Intrachromosomal aberrations thus represent a potential biomarker for past exposure to high-LET radiations such as alpha particles and neutrons and could possibly be used as a biodosimeter to estimate both the dose and type of radiation exposure in previously exposed populations.