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.
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).
At Branch No. 1 of the Russian State Research Center "Biophysics Institute", a registry has been created of workers at the "Mayak" Production Association, the first nuclear complex in Russia. This registry includes 18,830 persons hired at Mayak's nuclear reactors and radiochemical and plutonium production plant between 1948 and 1972. Twenty-five percent of these workers are women. As of December 31, 1994, the vital status is known for approximately 90% of the cohort members. A total of 5,118 persons have died. The cause for 97% of total deaths has been ascertained. The cohort members were exposed to both external gamma radiation and internal radiation from incorporated plutonium. The plutonium body burden has been measured in 30% of the cohort members with potential for plutonium exposure. External gamma-ray doses were in the range from tenths of milligrays to about 10 Gy, and plutonium body burdens were up to about 260 kBq. In view of the nature of the Mayak worker cohort, it has the potential to provide reasonably precise, quantitative estimates of the long-term health effects associated with chronic low-dose-rate exposure to external gamma radiation as well as internal radiation from plutonium. However, a number of issues must be addressed before credible risk estimates can be obtained from this cohort. These issues include the development of an appropriate internal comparison group and/or external rates and separating of the effects of internal and external exposures on risk estimates.
The objective of the European Childhood Leukaemia-Lymphoma Incidence Study (ECLIS) is to investigate trends in incidence rates of childhood leukaemia and lymphoma in Europe, in relation to the exposure to radiation which resulted from the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in April 1986. In this first report, the incidence of leukaemia in children aged 0-14 is presented from cancer registries in 20 European countries for the period 1980-1988. Risk of leukaemia in 1987-1988 (8-32 months post-accident) relative to that before 1986, is compared with estimated average dose of radiation received by the population in 30 geographic areas. The observed changes in incidence do not relate to exposure. The period of follow-up is so far rather brief, and the study is planned to continue for at least 10 years.