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Health Phys. 2003 Jul;85(1):43-6.

Dose response and temporal patterns of radiation-associated solid cancer risks.

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  • 1Department of Statistics, Radiation Effects Research Foundation, 5-2 Hijiyama Koen, Minami Ku, Hiroshima, 732-0815 Japan.


Findings of the Life Span Study (LSS) cohort of atomic-bomb survivors are a primary source for quantitative risk estimates that underlie radiation protection. Because of the size and length of follow-up, the LSS provides considerable information on both the nature of the dose response and on how radiation-associated excess risks vary with age, age at exposure, sex, and other factors. Our current analyses extend the mortality follow-up by 7 y (through 1997) and add 8 y (through 1995) to the incidence follow-up. During the follow-up periods there have been a total of about 9,300 solid cancer deaths and almost 12,200 incident cases. As outlined in this presentation, while discussing issues related to the shape of the dose response and low dose risks in some detail, the new reports consider temporal patterns in greater detail than has been done previously. As we have reported, the LSS solid cancer dose response is well described by simple linear dose response over the 0 to 2 Sv range (with some leveling off at higher estimated doses). This remains the case with the extended follow-up. Although LSS is often referred to as a high dose study, about 75% of the 50,000 cohort members with doses in excess of 5 mSv have dose estimates in a range of direct interest for radiation protection (0-200 mSv). Analyses of data limited to this low dose range provide direct evidence of a significant solid cancer dose response with a risk per unit dose that is consistent with that seen for the full dose range. Previous LSS reports have focused on descriptions of the solid cancer excess risks in which the excess relative risk varies with age at exposure and sex. In addition to the age at exposure effects, our current analyses suggest excess relative risks also vary with age (at death or diagnosis). Excess relative risks are higher for those exposed earlier in life, with attained age-specific risks changing by about 20% per decade, but tend to decrease with increasing attained age, roughly in proportion to (1/attained-age)1.5, for any age at exposure. Despite the decreasing relative risk, excess rates have increased rapidly throughout the study period with some indication, especially for the incidence data, that attained-age-specific rates are higher for those exposed at younger ages. Simple comparisons of site-specific excess risks are used to illustrate how the interpretation of age-at-exposure effects on excess relative risks or excess rates is complicated by changes in baseline rates with birth cohort or time period.

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