An analysis of lung cancer mortality in a cohort of 1,669 Mayak workers who started their employment in the plutonium and reprocessing plants between 1948 and 1958 has been carried out in terms of a relative risk model. Particular emphasis has been given to a discrimination of the effects of external gamma-ray exposure and internal alpha-particle exposure due to incorporated plutonium. This study has also used the information from a cohort of 2,172 Mayak reactor workers who were exposed only to external gamma rays. The baseline lung cancer mortality rate has not been taken from national statistics but has been derived from the cohort itself. For both alpha particles and gamma rays, the results of the analysis are consistent with linear dose dependences. The estimated excess relative risk per unit organ dose equivalent in the lung due to the plutonium alpha particles at age 60 equals, according to the present study, 0.6/Sv, with a radiation weighting factor of 20 for alpha particles. The 95% confidence range is 0.39/Sv to 1.0/Sv. For the gamma-ray component, the present analysis suggests an excess relative risk for lung cancer mortality at age 60 of 0.20/Sv, with, however, a large 95% confidence range of-0.04/Sv to 0.69/Sv.
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.
The authors evaluated prevalence of aortal atherosclerosis in dependence on radiation and non-radiation factors in workers underwent occupational prolonged irradiation.The study included 22,377 workers of nuclear industry enterprise "Mayak", with verified diagnosis of aortal atherosclerosis. Up to 31th December 2008, a total of 1,840 aortal atherosclerosis cases were registered in the examinees group. Aortal atherosclerosis prevalence appeared to depend reliably on sex, age, smoking habit (in males), alcohol consumption (in males) and arterial hypertension. Findings are that aortal atherosclerosis prevalence was higher in males and females underwent external gamma-irradiation of total dose over 0.5 Gy, in males and females underwent internal alpha-irradiation from incorporated plutonium of total absorbed radiation dose in liver over 0.025 Gy. Thus, aortal atherosclerosis prevalence in workers underwent occupational irradiation de- pended both on radiational and non-radiational factors.
Telomeres consist of GC-rich DNA repeats and the "shelterin" protein complex that together protect chromosome ends from fusion and degradation. Telomeres shorten with age due to incomplete end replication and upon exposure to environmental and intrinsic stressors. Exposure to ionizing radiation is known to modulate telomere length. However, the response of telomere length in humans chronically exposed to radiation is poorly understood. Here, we studied relative telomere length (RTL) by IQ-FISH to leukocyte nuclei in a group of 100 workers from the plutonium production facility at the Mayak Production Association (PA) who were chronically exposed to alpha-emitting ((239)Pu) radiation and/or gamma (photon) radiation, and 51 local residents serving as controls, with a similar mean age of about 80 years. We applied generalized linear statistical models adjusted for age at biosampling and the second exposure type on a linear scale and observed an age-dependent telomere length reduction. In those individuals with the lowest exposure, a significant reduction of about 20% RTL was observed, both for external gamma radiation (=1 Gy) and internal alpha radiation (=0.05-0.1 Gy to the red bone marrow). In highly exposed individuals (>0.1 Gy alpha, 1-1.5 Gy gamma), the RTL was similar to control. Stratification by gender revealed a significant (~30%) telomere reduction in low-dose-exposed males, which was absent in females. While the gender differences in RTL may reflect different working conditions, lifestyle and/or telomere biology, absence of a dose response in the highly exposed individuals may reflect selection against cells with short telomeres or induction of telomere-protective effects. Our observations suggest that chronic systemic exposure to radiation leads to variable dose-dependent effects on telomere length.